Use Photoshop’s Spot Healing Brush to Heal Spots

Spot Healing Brush Tool

Sounds pretty obvious when you spell it out right? You have spots on your photo (from digital sensor dust) so use the spot healer. I’m not sure when the tool was introduced to Photoshop, but I’ve encountered more than one person constantly using the Clone Stamp to take care of spots, blissfully unaware of the Spot Healing Tool. Also, before anybody else says it I’ll say it first: the Retouch Tool in ACR (and probably Lightroom) is WAY better than the Spot Healing Brush in Photoshop — so I’ll cover that one in another article. Back to the Spot Healing Brush…

HOW TO ACCESS THE SPOT HEALING BRUSH

  • On your tools palette just above the brush tool, click on the icon that you see in this post (it’s a little bandage with a spot under it).
  • OR press “J” to bring up the most recently used healing tool or “Shift+J” to cycle through the tools until you find the right one.

HOW TO USE THE SPOT HEALING BRUSH

  1. Zoom your photo to an appropriate level so you can see the spots clearly.
  2. Make sure your Spot Healing Brush Tool is still activated.
  3. Set the brush size to about twice that of the spot.
  4. Set your brush hardness fairly low to ensure smooth blending.
  5. Click the spot.

That’s it. Bye bye. If you want to keep things non-destructive, throw an empty layer on top of your background and make sure you’re sampling all layers. This is a good idea anyways so you can erase stuff or touch it up.

WHEN SPOT HEALING FAILS

No, it’s not the perfect tool, but it’s certainly faster than doing the sample click, click, sample click, click, sample click, click thing with the Clone Stamp. The Spot Healing Brush usually fails miserably around sharp edges. So if you have spots near areas of high contrast or sharpness, you might be better off reverting back to the clone stamp.

Anybody else have tips for getting rid of spots or working with the Spot Healing Brush?

9 thoughts on “Use Photoshop’s Spot Healing Brush to Heal Spots

  1. Luis Cruz

    Also, before anybody else says it I’ll say it first: the Retouch Tool in ACR (and probably Lightroom) is WAY better than the Spot Healing Brush in Photoshop — so I’ll cover that one in another article.

    Really?!? I’ve tried to use LR’s retouch tool a few times, and I’m not fond of it. I’m very comfortable with Photoshop, so maybe that’s why I found the LR retouch tool clunky. I’ll be waiting for your next article – maybe that’ll change my mind.

  2. Brian Auer Post author

    hmm… I’m not 100% sure that the retouch tool in Lightroom is the same as ACR, but I would imagine it is. I’ll definitely do that article within the next week or so.

  3. Susheel Chandradhas

    Brian, Luis,

    I worked with LR 2 beta for a while, and found the retouch options to be really neat. Now, you’re going to say… but the spot healing tool is the same in both LR1 and LR2; and you’d be right… however, the placement – the top right, right below the histogram – is very convenient, and that makes it a winner (along with the dodge and burn retouch options…

    I’m not sure about ACR, but from what I’ve seen, its a bit depressing in the interface and workflow department (but you have bridge for that).

    However, having said that, the Photoshop version of the spot healing brush is much more flexible, letting you really really zoom in when needed….

    Using the spot healing brush alongside the healing brush tool is a winner. If you had to make me choose one of them to work with on a deserted island, i’d pick the healing brush tool though…

  4. Brian Auer Post author

    Thanks for the comments and insights on the healing tools, Susheel. It should be interesting to continue this conversation into ACR and Lightroom — I’m certainlly curious to hear how some of these tools differ between software packages and which ones people prefer.

    Oh, and about the ad… thanks! Though it’s not 100% certain yet (they’re on a one week trial right now). I’m also going to test out their service this week before we talk about a paid spot.

  5. Trude

    Don’t forget your [ and ] keys to make the brush size smaller and bigger, respectively! It really helped my sanity when I found that out. :) And playing around with the retouch option in LR, it seems that those keys work there too.

  6. Cyler

    I found Lightroom’s spot-healing tool to be better at removing the actual spot, but the super clunky interface of it makes Photoshop’s equivalent much better for me.

  7. Pingback: Retouch Tool in Adobe Camera Raw

  8. Nomi

    Spot healing tool outperforms regular clone stamp tool in blurry areas so definitely it is a good addition. Both clone stamp tool and spot healing tool have their own uses so i thing it is not a good idea to compare them. Especially when you can see that spot healing tool has some kind of AI within it due to which it smoths the colors itself in application area.

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