Welcome Pixels!

I want to kick us off with something that’s crucial for retouching. The healing brush!

Do you ever find yourself wanting to break down things to the most basic form so that you can truly feel comfortable knowing that you’re doing the right thing?

Well, my little pixels, that’s exactly what the blog is about. Helping other creatives delve into the world of retouching so that you are equipped to deal with some of the issues you may come across.

All I ask in return for this knowledge is a simple share onto one of your platforms, be it Facebook, your blog, your website etc so that we can help as many people as possible.

What we are covering:

When should I use the healing tool?
Picking a sample point,
How big should my brush be?
What hardness should my brush be?
How to deal with edges (fog),

Part 2 (coming soon):
Salt and Pepper (Darken and Lighten issues),
Can I use the healing brush at the same time as the stamp tool?

The result:

*The after image has dodge and burn, and some stamp tool (lips, eyes), included as healing causes luminosity (brightness/contrast) issues. There’s also colour work to do, but this post is specifically about healing. Aaaannnddd I skipped the neck because you get the point 😀

When should I use the healing tool?

I choose to use the healing brush when I want to remove a blemish from an area that has a consistent texture and away from hard edges (unless straight-ish and clean). This is just when I choose to use it and I’ll show you some examples below.

Removing individual hairs
Removing spots that are not near a hard edge, unless they are clean edges (will define this in just a minute)

If you look the example where I used the healing brush on the edge of the jaw and lips, you can see the horrid “Fog”, where the healing brush smears a disgusting blob over your healing point. I’ll show you how to fix this in the section: How to deal with edges (fog).

What do I mean by a “clean” edge?

When I say a clean edge I refer to an edge that is: Relatively straight, has clean texture available to us somewhere on that line, and has no sharp edges (like a right angle) on either side of our sample point.

Here is an example:

Picking a sample point (where and why)

With regards to picking a sample point I like to keep it simple. I sample from an area that has the same texture as what I’m trying to replace.

When I’m using the healing brush without the texture separated from the colour information (via Frequency Separation), the sample point has to match the area I’m trying to replace in luminosity (brightness), saturation and hue as much as possible.

If you select a texture from somewhere that doesn’t match in these areas you can often fix them later, but are causing yourself unnecessary work.

In my opinion, it’s better to fix as many issues as possible in the healing stage to save time later on in dodge and burn (which can take hours).

Below I’ve given you an example of where I would choose to sample from in order to remove the blemishes on the forehead. This is purely preference and for me, I chose the areas because they were the cleanest side (top, bottom and sides) to sample from.

Green= Good sample point, Red= Bad Sample Point

How big should my brush be?

With regards to the brush size, set it to around the same size as the problem you’re trying to fix. If you’re trying to remove a hair for example, make the brush a little bigger to make sure you cover it completely when you draw over it. The same for spots.

What hardness should my brush be?

Match the hardness of the brush to the sharpness of the focus.
Out of focus area? Use a really soft brush.
Super in focus, tack sharp? Use a harder brush.

How to deal with edges (the dark blur)

When we look at sampling near edges there are 2 solutions to the major problem the healing brush gives us when used incorrectly:

  1. Look to see if the edge is clean. if so, sample from a clean section of the line (shown below) and paint directly over the problem.
  2. Don’t use the healing brush.

Thanks so much for taking the time to invest in your craft! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you liked or how I can improve the blog for you!

Next time:
Salt and Pepper (Darken and Lighten issues)
Can I use the healing brush at the same time as the stamp tool?


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