Great Cure for Ailing Images: Photoshop's Healing Brush
by James Miotke
If you've spent many hours mastering the art of cloning in a previous version of Photoshop (anything before version 7), you have quite likely become very attached to the Clone Stamp tool. After saving countless photos, you may feel a bit guarded and skeptical when friends or salespeople talk to you about the wonders of the Healing Brush. Why, after all, would anyone need such a tool once they have learned the art of cloning or rubber stamping "old school"?
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The fact of the matter is that the Healing Brush is an extremely powerful and time-saving improvement, even for those who have previously mastered the Clone Stamp tool.
Whereas the Clone Stamp tool forces you to think about things like matching color and tonal values, the Healing Brush does most of the thinking for you.
The Healing Brush works much like the Clone Stamp, except that as soon as you let go of your mouse button after placing a sample, it tries to match colors and cause your work to blend seamlessly.
The result is that all you have to think about when using the Healing Brush is what kind of texture you are grabbing. Sample an appropriate texture and Photoshop does the rest for you. You may need to do this once for yourself to fully understand the difference - but once you do, you'll be hooked. In fact, you may find yourself never wanting to go back to the old way of cloning again.
However, there will be times when you will want to don your traditional cloning gloves. Even masters of the Healing Brush will have to resort to the good ol' Clone Stamp tool from time to time.
One case in point: When your "healing" is happening on a contrasty edge, using the Healing Brush will likely cause a strange glow to occur. When you see this glow, consider using the Clone Stamp tool instead, following the step-by-step instructions found in our article on rubber stamping:
Removing Unwanted Elements
The Healing Brush is indeed an awesome feature of Photoshop 7+. Mastering it and occasionally falling back on the Clone Stamp tool will give you a huge advantage when it comes to correcting and restoring photos.
About Author / Instructor / Photographer, James Miotke
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