Removing Blemishes With One Click: The Spot Healing Brush In Photoshop

Jennifer Farley

The Spot Healing Brush is basically a round brush used for fixing up spots on skin, moles and blemishes. This is truly a wondrous tool because it is so quick and so easy. The magic here is that when you click on a spot with this tool, Photoshop looks at all of the pixels around the edge of the cursor and blends them with the pixels where you have clicked. It’s perfect for removing specks, scratches and dust in old photographs or anything reasonably small and round. As well as the one click approach, you can also remove lines from solid backgrounds. If you’re using Photoshop CS5, you can also use the Spot Healing Brush in conjunction with the new Content Aware Fill. As long as you have CS2 or later you will be able to zap spots with one click. Here’s how it works.

1. Open up a picture with a spot, freckle, blemish, dust or scratch that you want to remove. Here’s a picture of a well-known supermodel, with a well-known mole.


2. Select the Spot Healing Brush tool from the Toolbox, or press J.


3. Hover your cursor over the offending blemish and adjust the cursor’s size so it’s slightly larger than the area you want to fix. A quick way to change the size of your brush is to press the square bracket keys on your keyboard: press the left bracket key ([) to go down in size, and the right bracket key (]) to go up.


4. Click once. Notice that the cursor momentarily looks as if it’s filled with black. Once you release the mouse, it will magically remove the offending article.


Et voila!


In the Options bar you can change settings for the tool to get different results. Note this screengrab and these options are from CS5 but they are very similar on all versions since CS2.


In the Options bar, you can control exactly how the Spot Healing Brush works with these settings:

• Mode.  Multiply, Screen, Darken, Lighten, Color, Luminosity, and Replace. Normal mode tends to work very well.

• Type.

  • Proximity Match is the factory default and uses pixels just outside the edge of your cursor to fix the blemish.
  • Create Texture. Suitable if the area you want to fix is surrounded by a lot of details.
  • Content-Aware Fill. New in Photoshop CS5, it is useful for removing larger objects. You can either single click or drag to remove the item and Photoshop fills in the area with surrounding pixels.

• Sample All Layers. Turn on this option to have Photoshop sample pixel info from all layers instead of just the one you’re on. This lets you heal on another layer instead of your original image.