Easy Retouching With The Spot Healing Brush In Photoshop

    Jennifer Farley


    The Spot Healing Brush tool (J) first appeared in Photoshop CS2. And although this is a great way to quickly and easily remove blemishes and other imperfections from photos, it tends to be overlooked or forgotten about by Photoshop users. It works by painting with sampled pixels from an image or pattern and matches the texture, lighting, transparency of the sampled pixels to the pixels being “healed”. Unlike the Clone Tool, the Spot Healing Brush doesn’t require you to specify a sample spot first. It automatically samples from around the retouched area. This tool still amazes me every time I use it because it so simple to use and so fast, with great results.

    The Spot Healing Brush is superb for retouching blemishes (or zits) in portraits, but for this example I’m using it to remove spots from a butterfly’s wings. You can use it anywhere you need to remove small imperfections.

    1. I’m using this image of a yellow butterfly with 4 orange spots on its wings.


    1. In the toolbox, select the Spot Healing Brush tool (clip_image004).


    1. On the tool options bar, click the Brush pop-up menu and make the brush slightly larger than the spot you want to remove. In this case I set the brush to be about 32 pixels and set the hardness to 25%.

      Brush Size

    2. Using the Spot Healing Brush, click just once over the spot you want to remove.


    When you press down with the mouse, the shape of the brush will appear black or dark grey. However, once you release the mouse button, the area will be “healed” and the spot will disappear.
    The magical part of the Healing Brush is the way it holds on to the texture and colors but removes the spot.

    To remove all spots on the butterfly, just adjust the brush size for each spot so that it’s only slightly larger and click once. If you leave the brush the same size for each spot you won’t get good results. This is a much quicker way to deal with blemishes than using the Clone tool.

    Ta da!