Healing Brush and Patch Tools
Retouching has always been one of the major reasons why people buy and learn to use Photoshop. Recognizing this, the folks at Adobe have made the job easier with two new tools specifically designed to touch up your photos. They are the Healing Brush and Patch Tools.
The Healing Brush, which looks like a Band-Aid, can be applied to any kind of spot that needs removal. Instantly, it's gone, and without affecting anything but the spot. Sort of like digital zit cream... But it works quite differently, by using some fairly complicated math to average out the texture, lighting and shading of each group of pixels to locate the ones that are out of the normal range. Those pixels are the spot, and they're simply replaced by pixels that match the average tone that should be there. You can actually watch them change. Of course, you can heal any kind of surface, not just skin.
The difference between the Healing Brush and the Rubber Stamp is that the Rubber Stamp works by simply copying and pasting the group of pixels you have selected, whereas the Healing Brush melds the replacement pixels into the original ones. The changes are less obvious. In Figure 21.11, I've tried to clean up the stray hair and sweat on the man's forehead with both the Clone Stamp, on the left, and the Healing Brush on the right. Judge for yourself which looks better. (You really have to see this in color. Flip to the color plate section.)
Figure 21.11 On the left, cleaned up with the Clone Stamp. On the right, same skin, cleaned with the Healing Brush.
For larger areas, there's the Patch Tool. Like the Healing Brush Tool, it matches the texture, lighting, and shading of the sampled pixels to the source pixels. It's not completely opaque, so it blends the new pixels with the old ones, rather than copying and pasting. To use it, you must first decide whether the piece you select is the source or the destination. Click the appropriate button on the Tool Options bar. The tool pointer for the Patch Tool is a lasso. Select the area you want to replace. Drag the shape you've lassoed over the stuff you want to replace it with, and Photoshop does the rest. In Figure 21.12, you can see how I am using the Patch Tool to get rid of the power lines in the sky. I've already done a piece on the left. To continue, I will drag the lassoed piece on the right upward until it's on top of clear sky. When I release the mouse button the patch will fill in.
Figure 21.12 Though the lasso is the default, you can use any selection tool to make the selection and then click on the Patch Tool and continue to make the repair.
In the following exercise, we'll use the Healing Brush and Patch and probably all the tricks in the book.