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Head Games: retouching portraits > The Secret to Better Healing

The Secret to Better Healing

We had just wrapped up the Photoshop “Midnight Madness” session at the PhotoshopWorld Conference & Expo, when a woman came up to me and said, “I’ve got a really neat trick for the Healing Brush if you want to see it.” She was right—this trick rocks! As amazing as the Healing Brush is, it sometimes gives you a mottled look, or you can see the texture repeated in your “healing.” Well, her trick, which changes the shape of the brush, makes those nasties go away. A big thanks to NAPP member Stephanie Cole for letting me share this wonderful tip with you.

Step One.
Open the photo you want to “heal” with the Healing Brush and zoom in close on the area where the healing will take place (in the example shown here, we’re going to remove the little wrinkles under her eyes).


Step Two.
Get the Healing Brush from the Toolbox, then go up to the Options bar and click on the down-facing arrow next to the Brush Thumbnail to bring up the Brush Picker (it’s set to a black, round, hard-edged brush by default). Set the Hardness to 100% and the Spacing to 25%, but the real trick comes in shaping the brush. You’re going to make a tall thin oval brush by setting the Angle to -49 and the Roundness to just 16% (as shown here).

Step Three.
Hold the Option key (PC: Alt key), and click in an area with smooth texture (in the example shown here, you can click just below the wrinkled area, to the right of the bridge of her nose. Then, start painting with the Healing Brush, going from left to right, over the wrinkles. As you paint, the brush creates what looks like a star pattern (as shown here), and it’s this pattern that makes the texture look so random and realistic. The captures below show the traditional method (with a round brush) on the left, and Stephanie Cole’s tall oval brush technique on the right.

Before: With a round Healing Brush, you can see the texture (notice how two tiny bumps are repeated? Also notice the slight darkening added by the healing).

After: Using Stephanie’s tall thin brush technique, you don’t see the repeated skin texture, nor do you get the darkening under the eye or a mottled look.



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