If you regularly use Adobe Photoshop or a similar graphics program for photographic retouching than you are probably very familiar with the Clone Stamp Tool. The Clone Tool, also know as the Rubberstamp, works by sampling a designated area of your image and then painting that area onto a target area. When done well, this method of retouching works perfectly, but there are many instances when sampling the correct area to fix damaged or blemished spots is nearly impossible. Fortunately, the wizards at Adobe have done it again, added a feature to Photoshop we didnt know we needed until they told us we did.
Photoshop 7 introduces the Healing Brush and Patch Tools. Both of these are very useful to retouchers. The Healing Brush works in a similar fashion to the Clone Tool. Pick a cloning source by Alt-Clicking (Windows) or Option-Clicking (Mac OS), and then paint over the damaged area. Here is where the magic lies. When you do this with the Clone Tool, you need to use careful judgment in choosing your source. It is easy to get a result that shows the footprints of the Rubberstamp or where the edges are blurred compared to the rest of the image.
The Healing Brush
, on the other hand, analyzes the area underneath when you are painting with it and preserves the original tonality, shading and texture. It is a real joy to work with. For my example image, I have a damaged family photo from the early 1940s (Fig. 1
). This is a slightly tricky image for the Healing Brush since the bottom edge of the scooter is missing, but there is enough of it to work.
To start, I selected the Healing Brush (it looks like a Band-Aid) in the Tools palette. Next, I selected the source area in the grass to clone from and painted out the scratches at the bottom of the image (Fig. 2). When you paint with the Healing Brush it will look like you are using the standard Clone Tool, dont worry that it doesnt match up immediately. When you let go of the mouse button, Photoshop processes the image data and blends everything together nicely. Since Photoshop is actually performing calculations, the results are not as immediate as when using the Clone Tool.