Skip to main content

Retouching Images in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 9 from: Adobe Photoshop CC: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

Retouching Images in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 9 from: Adobe Photoshop CC: The Complete Guide

Ben Willmore

most popular photo & video

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

9. Retouching Images in Adobe Photoshop

Here are the basic photoshop fixes used in photo editing, such as getting rid of spots and removing unwanted objects.
Summary (Generated from Transcript)

The lesson covers the topic of retouching images in Adobe Photoshop CC. The instructor demonstrates different retouching techniques using tools such as the Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Clone Stamp tool, and Content Aware Fill. He also discusses considerations for retouching images with layers and adjustment layers.


  1. What is the purpose of retouching in Adobe Photoshop?

The purpose of retouching in Adobe Photoshop is to fix defects or remove unwanted elements in an image to improve its overall appearance.

  1. What tools are commonly used for retouching in Photoshop?

Some commonly used tools for retouching in Photoshop include the Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush, Clone Stamp tool, and Content Aware Fill.

  1. How can you remove defects or unwanted elements using the Spot Healing Brush?

To remove defects or unwanted elements using the Spot Healing Brush, you can simply paint over the area you want to remove and Photoshop will automatically generate a replacement based on the surrounding pixels.

  1. When should you consider using the Healing Brush instead of the Spot Healing Brush?

You should consider using the Healing Brush instead of the Spot Healing Brush when you need more control over the source area from which Photoshop copies pixels to replace the problem area.

  1. What should you do if the Spot Healing Brush doesn't work well on the edge of an image?

If the Spot Healing Brush doesn't work well on the edge of an image, you can switch to the Clone Stamp tool to manually copy pixels from one area to another. Additionally, you can create a gap between the problem area and the edge of the image by using the Clone Stamp tool. The lesson discusses the importance of properly using adjustment layers and retouching in Photoshop, and provides tips for managing layers, locking layers, and aligning elements when retouching. The lesson also briefly mentions the upcoming topic of blending modes.


  1. Why is it important to properly use adjustment layers when retouching in Photoshop?

    Turning off or removing adjustment layers can affect the retouching and cause inconsistencies in the image.

  2. Where should the retouching layer be placed in relation to the adjustment layers?

    The retouching layer should be created directly above the bottom-most layer in the document.

  3. How can you prevent accidentally moving the retouching layer?

    Lock the position of the retouching layer by clicking on the lock position symbol.

  4. What can you do if automated tools like the Spot Healing Brush don't work well for specific retouching tasks?

    Break the task into multiple pieces and use manual techniques to achieve the desired results.

  5. How can you align elements when retouching in Photoshop?

    Use the aligned option in the retouching tool and use a large brush to ensure elements line up with each other.

  6. What is the next topic that will be discussed in the upcoming lesson?

    The next topic is blending modes in Photoshop.

Lesson Info

Retouching Images in Adobe Photoshop

Right, we're back with another session in Photoshop CC, The Complete Guide. We're in week two. These are all the sessions we're going through this week. And today's session is the ninth out of 20. Still got a ways to go. And today, we're gonna cover retouching essentials. So if we need to fix any defects in our images or remove anything that shouldn't be there, that kind of stuff, we'll learn how to get started with that today. But know that I also have another session where we're gonna get into advanced retouching. And therefore, anything we can't tackle in this session, we'll do it there. So let's jump into Photoshop so we can spend as much time as possible learning how to use it. Right, I'm gonna start off in Camera Raw because that's the first area I might think of doing some retouching. So I have a raw file here. And if I double-click on it, that should bring me into Camera Raw. In Camera Raw, we have some tools at the top. And one of those tools looks like a brush with some littl...

e specks around it. And if I hover over it, you'll find that's the Spot Removal brush. I'll click on that, and now I have a circle that is my brush. And if I see anything that needs to be removed, like right here, I can see a blob that's down there, I can make sure that circle's large enough to completely cover the problem. I can click and let go and then Photoshop will search the surrounding area, looking for what it thinks would be a good substitute to put in there to get rid of that. It doesn't always do a good job trying to figure out where to copy from. Sometimes it'll copy from an area that has detail that's obviously wrong. Like it would copy from a tree to fix the sky or something. And if that happens, where it doesn't copy from an area that you like, then press the Forward Slash button. It's right next to the Shift key on my Mac, and it's the slash that leans, let's see, from the camera, it'd be leaning this way. And if you press that, it will force it to pick a new area. And you can press it as many times as you need. And it's going to each time pick a different area to get it sourced from. Then you can adjust your brush size in many different ways. There's a slider over here on the right to change the size. You can use the square bracket keys on your keyboard if you'd like, and any other brush changing methods you know. And so you want that circle to be large enough so that when you cover up the defect with it, the circle is not touching the defect. Instead, it's touching the good stuff that's surrounding it. And then when you click, it should be able to get rid of, in this case, I just have some sensor dust specks. Now, I took this picture in Russia, and right before I took it, I changed lenses. And this was back before cameras had dust reduction features built in, where it would shake the camera sensor, and it was a little bit windy, and I got a lot of dust on my sensor. So let's see if we can find that dust easily. On the right side of my screen, near the bottom, is a checkbox called Visualize Spots. If I turn that on, it's gonna change my view of the picture into a way where it's trying to make it easy to see any sensor dust spots that might be within the image. Do you see the circles that are showing up on my screen? Those are all sensor dust spots. And I can go over here now and relatively quickly target each one in an attempt to remove them. And once I think I have most of them, I probably wanna go down to that area where I have the checkbox that said Visualize Spots. And what I wanna do is there's a slider there, and I wanna move it around because I might find a setting that makes other dust spots stick out more. If I bring it down like this, I can see now a few of them that are right up in here. I don't know if you can see those kinda two edges. And I start seeing some lines that are down over here and down over here that might be sensor dust spots. I'll come in here and target a few of those. And I'm just gonna look at these visually and I'll turn off the Visualize Spots checkbox to see what is that. It looks like it's dirt on my camera sensor because it's not in the image. I mean, it's not in this actual sky of the picture unless this was a long exposure and that's a bird flying by or something. Now, with this, you can click and drag to define a noncircular area. And so for those lines, I can click and drag. Also, when you end up clicking on your image, there's a spot right there, unless that's actually on my physical screen on my laptop. And if you don't like where it's copying from, you can physically come over here and move this yourself to pick where you'd like it to copy from. When you're doing this, you will want the setting near the right side of your screen called Type set to Heal. What heal means is that it will match the brightness and color of the surroundings. If you don't have heal turned on and the area it's copying from is a little bit brighter or a little bit darker than where it's being applied, you'd be able to tell that it's brighter or darker. You'd see it. But you need it set to Heal. And you do have a choice called Opacity. That would make it so you're not gonna completely remove something. Instead, when you lower the opacity, you'd still a hint of it being in there. I might use that when I'm retouching faces. If I have faces and someone has a birthmark or something on it, I don't wanna completely remove things like birthmarks because then you wouldn't recognize the person, you know? But I could remove it first and then lower the opacity so that I bring back some of the original. So I'm just lessening the impact of it without completely getting rid of it. Yeah, so I'll often do that with some faces. When I switch out of this tool, I'll switch over to the Hand tool. Then I can see my clean image. So that's one method for doing simple retouching would be in Camera Raw. I got into Camera Raw by double-clicking on a raw file. That sent me directly into Camera Raw. If you have a JPEG file, you can still open it in Camera Raw. All you need to do is instead of double-clicking on it, go to the File menu in Bridge, and there's a choice called Open in Camera Raw. And that will force the JPEG file to be opened there as well. You can do it with JPEGs and TIFFs if you want. It just can't be a file that contains layers. So if there's a layered file, you'll have to open it all the way into Photoshop. So in Photoshop, we have a bunch of different retouching tools. And in this session, I hope to get you where you're got some comfort level with how to think about the individual retouching tools. Then, when we get down another session called Advanced Retouching, we'll get in more depth where we can do more challenging images during that session. So here, I was in Africa, and I got this nice shot of these elephants, but I don't like all the droppings that are on the ground around them. So let's see if we can get rid of some of those relatively quickly. Now, we have a variety of tools to use. I'm gonna come in and start using one called the Spot Healing Brush. The Spot Healing Brush looks like a little bandaid, kinda with a selection behind it or something. And if you click and hold, there's more than one tool in that slot. So you might find that that is not the exact tool that appears. Instead, you might see one of these instead in that slot. And if that's the case, click and hold on the tool so you get the list of all the tools that live in that particular area and go to the Spot Healing Brush. With the Spot Healing Brush, it's similar to being in Camera Raw where you can use the bracket keys to make your brush larger or smaller like that. And then we can come onto our image and just make sure that the circle completely surrounds the problem you have. Click, and when you let go, it will figure out what to use to replace that. But with this, it's not really designed to have you just click and let go. It's really designed to click and drag to go over an area. And so we can come in here and attempt to do this. Now I see some repeated shapes down here. I don't know if you can see it. There's three of 'em in a row. And that's because this tool just seems to constantly wanna copy from the same thing. But I was able to eventually get rid of it. You do need to look for repeated shapes because it's just gonna be copying from surrounding areas and kinda combining them together, and sometimes it copies from an area that will be obvious if it is a repeat. So let's look at the various tools that we have. And to do that, I'm gonna open a different image. Let's go into this image. Take me a moment. This image already has some layers, so I'll get rid of those layers and start again, and we'll see what we need to fix. This is an image where when I took the photograph, I tilted my camera a little bit. And when I tilted my camera, it caused the vertical lines that are here on the side of this doorway to converge. Just like when you tilt your camera when you capture a tall building, you know, you tilt it way up for a skyscraper, the top of the skyscraper looks much smaller than the bottom. Well, there's a feature in Camera Raw where I can try to correct for that, and it's going to try to straighten out those lines. And I used that. And by using it, it caused these vertical lines to become straight. But in the process of doing so, this happened. You see in the left edge? And so it did the same thing at the bottom. So we'll start by trying to address those areas. Then we'll try to address some other areas in this photograph, and in the process, we'll learn about all the retouching tools, at least the important ones. So to get those empty areas to be filled in, I first need to select them so that Photoshop knows which part of the image I'd like to work with. So there's a bunch of different techniques for doing that. We're gonna use a trick. And what it is is I'm gonna come over here to my Layers panel, I'm gonna move my mouse on top of that layer, and I'm gonna hold down the Command key and click. If I Command + Click, it's gonna select all the areas that are not empty. Now that's one technique I could use. If, on the other hand, those areas were full of white, let's say. They weren't just checkerboards. It was full of white. In that case, I would instead go to my Magic Wand tool. The Magic Wand tool, I can do it here on this transparent area as well, I hit Click On, I can hold Shift to get the bottom one if I'd like, and I can get those areas selected. If I Command + Clicked on the image, which I just did here a second ago, I would have the areas where the picture itself is showing up selected. And I would need the exact opposite of that to have the transparent areas. So I'd have to go to the Select menu and choose Inverse. I need this selection to actually overlap the picture. And right now, it doesn't. To make it overlap the picture, I only need it to overlap by one pixel. I'm gonna do the following. It's called Select, Modify, Expand. When it asks me how much, one is fine. Click OK. And that means that now this selection just got bigger and it's one pixel bigger, which means it's overlapping the picture by one pixel. To fill the area, I'll go to the Edit menu. I'm gonna choose Fill. And one of the choices, it's usually the default if you haven't messed with this already, it's called Content Aware. With Content Aware chosen, I'll click OK. And Photoshop should be able to manufacture new information to fill those areas. And it simply looks at the surrounding image and say what would naturally fit in with the surrounding image. And it pretty much figures out what to use. When I'm done, I can go to the Select menu and choose Deselect. And you can see how I filled in those areas. Let's try that on a different picture. Here is a panorama that I stitched. And so I'll do the exact same technique. I'll hold down the Command key, I'll click on the thumbnail for the layer. That gives me the picture itself. I want the opposite of that, so I'll choose Inverse. And then I need the selection to overlap the pictures, so I need it to be a little bit bigger. I choose Expand by one pixel. Then I can go to Edit and choose Fill, just like we did before. And use Content Aware, click OK, and let's see what it's able to accomplish. You will need to be critical of the end result because it might repeat objects in your image, but it's gonna save you a whole heck of a lot of time. Outside, Command + D for deselect. And you can see what we have. But this is when you'll wanna zoom up and look for repeated shapes. And I can see some. You see this little line that's here? This kinda brighter line? And I see it again here and I see it again there. I see this little shape and I see it repeated there, and so on. This little part looks outta place. And that's when I would switch over to the other tool we've used, which is the Spot Healing Brush and I would just use it to paint over those areas to get it to recalculate and retry those particular spots. And try to work with it until it looks a lot better. You can also just reuse the exact same tool again, meaning that if I come over here and find an area I didn't like. Let's say it happened to be this. I can just make a selection around the area that I didn't like. And there's a shortcut for getting to the Fill dialogue. If you hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and hit Delete, that'd be Backspace in Windows, Shift + Delete will bring up the Fill dialogue. And if the last time you used it, it was set to Content Aware, it should still be set to that this time. So all you need to do is press Return or Enter to say OK. So therefore, you can go through this very quickly, where you just look for areas you don't think look appropriate. And once you find them, you select the area, you do a Shift + Delete and just hit Return. Well, here's a repeated shape. I'll select one of them. Shift + Delete and then hit Return. I think that might be the same flower as above, so. And it becomes relatively quick to start fixing some of those areas as long as you know of Shift + Delete, Return. Yes. But you get the idea, hopefully. And now, let's start working up here. Let's say I wanted to remove this text. It's not that the text really needs to go, but we can learn about a lot of tools by trying to get rid of the text. First, I could try using a Spot Healing Brush. With a Spot Healing Brush, I could paint over one of the letters, making sure I completely cover it, and then let go. And you see, it was able to get rid of that letter. Then I go to the next one and do the same thing. But what I don't wanna do is stop partway, like this, where it's not completely covered. Because any time you use a tool that's got the word healing associated with it, it means it's going to precisely match both the brightness and the color of what's immediately outside of the area where you're applying it. And so right now, by letting go when I'm only partially covering up this letter, I'm trying to tell it to blend in with that white color on the left edge of where I painted. And so when I let go, it's gonna look a little weird. But if I paint over the entirety of it without bumping into the next letter over, then it looks at what's around the edge of where I've painted, and there's where it's gonna try to match the color and the brightness, and when I let go, (chuckles) it says fuel. (chuckles) Okay, I've never had it do anything like that. It actually made another word. (audience member chuckling) Oh, I'll try it again there. That was really funny. And so I can most likely do this as long as I completely cover the letter. And I don't wanna go over here and kiss the edge of the next letter because it's gonna look just outside of where I painted and try to match all that stuff. So now it thinks it should match white to the left side, and you see, we've got a little weird bar there. But we can continue and see if we can do it. I think I might have bumped the letter F. No, that's fine. And like that. I coulda tried to paint across all of 'em, but this tool doesn't work great with huge areas. It's better to use it on small areas, so I would tackle the individual letters one at a time. I'm gonna choose Undo. And in case you're not aware, to get multiple undos, there's just a command. Here's Undo, and then there's a choice called Step Backward. Step Backward lets you get more than one undo. And if you're used to the standard keyboard shortcut for undo, which is Command + Z, you see it listed on the right side here, Step Backward is just adding the Option key, that's Alt in Windows. So, Option + Command + Z or Alt + Control + Z in Windows will allow you to get multiple undos. Just type it more than once. That's how I got this back even though I did each letter separately. So, Option + Command + Z, Option + Command + Z to go back. Alright, let's try with a few other tools just so we can learn about those tools. I'm gonna choose the next tool here called the Healing Brush. It's in the same slot in my Tool panel as the Spot Healing Brush, but it's just one slot down. And with that tool, you need to tell it where you wanna copy from. It doesn't choose it for you. And so I'm gonna tell it to copy from up here, and I do that by holding down the Option key, Alt in Windows, and I click where I wanna copy from. I just Option + Clicked right up here. Then I'm gonna come down below and I'll click on a letter and I'll start painting over it. And I get an interactive preview of how it's gonna deal with that. And since it has the word healing attached, it means it will match the brightness and the color of what's immediately outside of where you paint. And so again, it's important, if I copy from up here by Option + Clicking, and I come down here to apply it, that I wanna cover the entirety of the letter E, and I don't wanna come over here and kiss the next letter. Otherwise, it thinks it should blend in with that color and match it. And so I get this weird little edge. You need to make sure you go all the way out so you completely covered the problem and so that the area immediately outside where you've done that is proper, it's the right color, the right brightness. And I should be able to get rid of this. So this is more work though because I needed to mentally think about where to copy from, whereas when I used the Spot Healing Brush, it'd try to figure that out for me. So I switch to this tool when I've already tried the Spot Healing Brush and it just didn't do a good job. And I tried it again and it didn't do a good job. So I said, "Fine. "I'll go to this tool which is more manual, "where I can choose where to copy from." But I find that people that have used Photoshop for a while, they got way too many limitations in their brain, thinking about how Photoshop used to work. And when using a Spot Healing Brush, usually, they'll end up trying to make sure the area they're copying from is the right brightness and the right color, and that's not necessary at all. Watch this. I'm gonna copy from over here. Option + Click, and I'm gonna use that to retouch over here. And it works perfectly fine. I'm gonna get rid of this little mark on the bottom of this, and I'm gonna do it by copying from this blue thing. Works just fine, right? Let's figure out what's going on. I'm gonna copy from this little that's like, I think it's a screw, I'm gonna Option + Click on it and I'm going to apply it right here as if I'm trying to add a screw. Look at what it did. It put it in and it matched the brightness of the surroundings. That's pretty crazy. But what this tool is doing is it's only copying the variation in brightness from the area you Option + Click on. That in general means the texture of what's there. It's ignoring the color. So as long as down here, this is like the drippy paint like stuff, and that's what it's supposed to be over here, this is a perfectly fine place to copy from. But if I were to copy from where this vent is, right here, and apply it there, it can put the vent in just fine. Get the other one in. It's the variation in brightness that it copied. It copied the fact that it was a lot darker than its surroundings where those two bars are. So over on the other side, it said, well, I need to match these surroundings, so we're gonna start off with this red color that we're applying this to in this darkness that's over in the red color, but now, let's make it vary in brightness just like the area you copied from. And so it made it so it ended up getting darker there where the vents were. If you really wanna see what I'm talking about, let's copy from this part of the wall right here on the left side. I'll Option + Click there and try to use it to get rid of this letter O. 'Kay, it can get rid of the O, but it's the wrong texture, isn't it? So the variation in brightness that we get in there just isn't appropriate. But I can copy from all sorts of things that you might not otherwise think about as long as you know that all it's copying is the texture or the variation in brightness from that area. The color and the brightness, overall, will be determined by the area you're applying it to. So it's kinda cool. Then, let's try a different tool. I'm gonna move down here to the Clone Stamp tool, this guy right here. The Clone Stamp tool is another tool where you need to tell it where to copy from. And so I'll come up here and Option + Click up here once more. Say copy from here, and I'll come down here to apply it. There we go. And you notice, it doesn't look that good. It's too dark, isn't it? That's because the Clone Stamp tool, which some people call the Rubber Stamp tool, doesn't help you at all, doesn't have any intelligence. All it does is blatantly copy from the area you Option + Click on and blatantly apply it to where you told it to without any adjustment, without trying to match anything. And so it's the tool I would rather not use unless I absolutely have to. So let's see if we might be able to come up with some reasons why you might absolutely have to. I'm gonna try to get rid of this area down here. You see the shadow? I don't want the shadow. So the first tool I would usually try is the Spot Healing Brush because it does pretty much everything for you. All you gotta do is cover up the problem all the way. So here, I'll cover up the problem all the way. I'll cross my fingers and just hope it does a good job. And if it does, we can end our day early. Not bad. It even put the little, what do you call the, the seam in there. And there's just this one area here. It's a little darker. I'll cover that up. Okay. Let's try it a little further down here. Now, I have to cover up the entire problem. Otherwise, if I stop midway, it might think it needs to blend in with that. I can try. Sometimes it does fine stopping midway. I would try to stop in a small area like maybe right in there. Nah, tried to put a shadow back in. Because I didn't cover up the entire problem, it thinks it should look like the surroundings. And to the left, there's a shadow, so it thinks, well, you probably want a shadow here. If I wanted to completely get rid of the shadow, I'm gonna have to cover up all the shadow, and I doubt it's gonna do a good job. Good, thought there should be some stair there, you know? It doesn't matter how many times I try, it's gonna mess up each time doing something similar. So I'll choose Undo, and let's see how can we use a combination of these tools to try to fix that area. So I'll zoom up on it. Little easier to see here. And what I wanna do is two things. I wanna break the problem into smaller pieces. And I do that by using the manual tool of the Clone Stamp tool, the one that just copies blatantly. I'll use that. I'll come up here and choose Option and click up here somewhere to copy. And I'm just gonna break this in half. So then now, there's two isolated problems, the two pieces, alright? Now that might be enough for me to get rid part of this. Let's see if it is. I'll use the Spot Healing Brush and I'll paint over this entire shadow. And let's see if that's enough. I'm not certain if it is. It's not. Well, not bad. If it's not, I would have broken it up into an even smaller chunks. Maybe it's three chunks instead of two. Then the other thing there is if I try now to deal with that, I don't think it's gonna do a good job because this tool does not always do a good job when you kiss the edge of something, where you just come up and touch it. You see how it thinks that should extend? So I'll choose Undo. Let's see if we can fix it. To fix it, we're gonna go to again, the Clone Stamp tool, the tool that does everything manually. And with that tool, I'm gonna copy from an area over here. Option + Click, and I'm just gonna try to create a gap between the problem and the thing it would usually kiss up against. So I'll come over here and I won't be as precise as I should be just for time's sake, but I would usually be very precise right there to get this right. Like get right into that corner. And I might copy from this area over on the right or here. There. So now I've created a gap between the thing I'm trying to remove and the thing it was kissing up against. And now I'll switch back to my Spot Healing Brush and I'll try to fix those areas. There's one little spot here I don't like. 'Kay, then we'll try this. Because now, when it gets into that gap, it knows the proper brightness over there, it knows the proper color to blend in with, and it doesn't think it should be the edge of a stair. Ah, let's try it one more time. I usually have a rule. It's three strikes and you're out, which is try the tool three times, and if it screws up all three times, switch to a different tool where you might have to do more manual work. Like instead of Spot Healing Brush, the normal Healing Brush where you get to pick where to copy from, that kinda thing. But you get the idea of how I kinda solved that. And now I should have been more precise when I was in here doing that, but that just takes more time is all. And we can do the same thing down here if you want. The main thing we'd wanna do is create a gap between the problem and what it's kissing up against, which means fill this area right here in, fill that area right there in with what should be there in general. So I can copy from either down here or up there and make it so that right content is kissing against there. I'll copy from over here. Apply it right there. So now, that's isolated from this. It's a huge area. These tools don't work great on huge areas, so I break up huge areas into smaller chunks. And so I might copy from over here and use that to break this in two. I'm just trying to make it so it's surrounded on all sides by the proper brightness, the proper texture, proper color so that it knows what to blend into. And I'm not sure, that might still be too big. Let's go to our Spot Healing Brush and find out. I'll try to tackle the bottom portion. Mmm, tells me it's probably too big, so I'll choose Undo. And let's break it up a few more times. Copy from over here. 'Kay, now it's smaller pieces. Might break this one apart so I'll copy again from over there. 'Kay, now we got a lot of little pieces. Go back to the automated tool, which is our Spot Healing Brush, and now, cross your fingers. Let's hope. Mmm, that's a mixed, it's kinda weird spot, but. But you get the idea that it's more doable as you break it down into smaller and smaller chunks. Easier for it to deal with it. Now I probably need this little seam that's here to continue over this way and stuff. That's when it needs very specific information. That's when I'd switch to the normal Healing Brush, where you get to choose where you're copying from. And then I can say, well, this is the variation in brightness I need. It should get darker where this little crack is. And so I can come over and say, let's grab the Healing Brush, let's copy from that crack, Option + Click, and let's put a crack over here. And it will blend in with the brightness in the surroundings to give me that. I'd need to figure out should that extend all the way over here. And if so, I would need to copy from there and keep it going. I don't know if I, no, I didn't get it right. Where is it? If you can't tell, just get a bigger brush. It's sometimes easier to see. Get it to line up just right and then get a small brush. I think I got it. Now I'm gonna hit a crack going vertical, ah, but anyway, you can do that kinda stuff. Hopefully that'll get you an idea, break it down. When it's kissing into things, isolate it. And that's when I use that Clone Stamp tool. I don't wanna ever use the Clone Stamp tool unless I absolutely have to, but in those instances, I really usually need to. Other things is whenever you have something very specific. Here, do you see the grout line that's here? If I end up using the Spot Healing Brush, that's often when it'll mess up, is when it needs exact material, where if you put in something the littlest bit wrong, that it would not look good at all. So if you're retouching a bathroom floor that's full of tiles or something, be careful. And that's when again, I would switch to the Healing Brush, where I get to pick where to copy from. I come up here, Option + Click up here somewhere. Come down here and get that line to line up. Put it in. That kinda stuff. But I'd like to do as much as possible with the Spot Healing Brush because it saves so much time. Let's see what else we have. In this image, we have some telephone lines. Well, we need to see if we can deal with them. There are many different tools I can attempt to use. For one, I could use the Spot Healing Brush and try to paint over it. But the telephone lines, if you look at them, extend all over the place in here. You see how they go from here over to there, all the way down and everything? And if you stop halfway in between, sometimes the tool doesn't like that. So let's just try it. I'll go here. I'll show you a trick. I'm gonna click here and let go. And then I'm gonna move over here. And I don't know if you remember or not, but when we talked about selection essentials, I mentioned when you're painting with the Paintbrush tool that you could click in one spot and hold Shift and click somewhere else and it would connect the dots with a straight line. I think we were working on some coins that had some straight edges. Well, I can do that with any retouching tool, usually. So I'll hold down Shift right here and click, and that's gonna snap a straight line from where I last clicked to here. And hopefully, that will help handle that. I could do the same thing to a lot of these other lines here. I could go to the end of this one, right where it meets the edge of the document, click. Then I could hold down the Shift key, and as long as these are not bowing downward, you know, like where they're curved, then I might be able to Shift + Click here to see if it can deal with it. It did a pretty good job. Click here, Shift + Click. The only reason I'm stopping about here is if I go any further, I'm gonna bump into the other line most likely that's there. And so I can come in here and attempt these. Other tools I could try is I can create a selection and I could try out one of the first tools we used, which is to go to the Edit menu and choose Fill. Remember the choice called Content Aware. And it might not fix the entire area, but I can always tackle smaller and smaller problem areas in here. But you're getting the idea that we can tackle those. If for some reason it doesn't work, first off, with previous, older versions of Photoshop, if you go back a few versions ago, it was nowhere near as good at doing this. And when that was the case, what I would need to do is similar to what we did to the shadow that was in the lower right of the other image, and that is wherever one of these lines kissed up against something, I had to create a little break in it by going to the manual Clone Stamp tool and just breaking off the end of that telephone line at both ends. And then it can deal with it as long as it had the proper brightness and color on the ends. 'Cause I know not everybody has the newest version of Photoshop is why I mention that. Also, if you do this and you notice the sky does not look smooth when you're done, if you can see where that paint stroke went, and it just looks a little bit odd there, I would guess that you're not in a mode called 16-bit. There are very few times when the mode called 16-bit, which gives you thousands and thousands of brightness levels instead of only 256, which is what 8-bit gives you, gives you better looking end results, but one of them is when retouching skies. So if you ever find that your sky does not look smooth when you're done, you can see the paint strokes a bit, then come up to this menu called Image, choose Mode, and go to 16-bit. That won't magically make your image have more brightness levels if you were in 8-bit before that, but it will allow Photoshop to use more brightness levels in doing the retouching, and it will produce a smoother looking end result. Most of the time, when you're done doing the retouching, you can switch right back to 8-bit and it'll look fine. But that is one time when 16-bit usually produces a better result, retouching skies. Also, the Spot Healing Brush used to do a terrible job when whatever it was you were trying to retouch out bumped into the edge of your document, like this. It would do the exact same thing as when something is kissing the edge of something. It would actually try to blend in to what used to be on the edge of the photo. So in this case, it would blend into a silverish thing up here when it was done, because it tries to look outside of the area that you just painted in to say you wanted to remove and match whatever is there. And when you're at the edge of the document, there's nothing beyond for it to look at and match. But in the newer version, it's gotten much better. So let's see if it can handle this. This is the Spot Healing Brush I'm using. Not bad. And so it now works much better. If you're working with an older version of Photoshop though and you find it doesn't do a good job on the edge of your document, then the old fix that I used to have to use, which you can use if you have an older version, is go again to your Spot Healing Brush and just put the right stuff on the edge of your document. That means copy from some sky that's approximately the right brightness. It doesn't have to be absolutely precise, just near, like that. I'll copy from here and just put it on the edge of the document, so that instead of getting it to blend in with the stuff you're about to retouch out, it's gonna blend in with that color I just manually put in. And then you come over to your Spot Healing Brush and just make sure you cover all of the paint that you just painted in. Like that, and it would usually end up looking better. In this case, I don't actually think it looks better, but... This is what it usually looks like. If you look right there, do you see that edge? Most of the time when that happens, being in 16-bit mode would prevent it. It's not in this image 'cause this is a 16-bit image, but that's what it looks like when it doesn't do a good job. If it's something like this and I've used it more than once, then I'll just try a different tool. I could always select this area like this, and I can go to Edit, Fill, Content Aware. See if it does a better job. There. So when one tool fails you, you say what else acts like this, what else does something similar. Let's try that. So we can end up with those objects on the edges of our images and easily try to fix them. Darn tourists getting in my pictures. Oh, that's my wife right there. She's alright, I guess. (chuckles) But these are all friends anyway. Well, most of 'em. But I'd like to get rid of these people. Get outta there. So, I would start using the most automated things I can. And the two most automated things are usually the Spot Healing Brush or making a selection and using the Content Aware Fill. Remember those? So. But this image has layers. And so let's talk about how to do some retouching if you have layers. And in this particular image, I actually have these layers hidden so that you would see it without people. I'll turn the layers on so you can see my end result. There it is without the people. And I have some adjustment layers on top. Let's turn those off. Turn 'em on one at a time and see what they're doing. Here's a curves adjustment layer. If I show you an overlay, you can see it's affecting that area in the distance. And so if I turn it on, I'm guessing it's gonna pull out the contrast. Yeah, do you see the bright parts of that? Got a little brighter. So then we got another one here, and turn it on. It's doing the overall contrast in the entire picture. And this one is darkening blues. That's a hue and saturation adjustment layer, the top one. So if I have those adjustment layers in there, I gotta be careful. Let's say this retouching hadn't been done yet. So I'm gonna throw away the layer that contains it. First off, the kind of retouching we've done up until now, I didn't work with layers at all. We just weren't talking about layers, so I didn't use 'em. But I usually would use layers. I'm gonna create a brand new empty layer to put my retouching on. To create an empty layer, in case you haven't done it before, it's the icon to the left of the trashcan, the bottom of your Layers panel. There, I got my empty layer. I'll double-click on it. I usually call mine Weeds-b-Gone, because I think of it as pulling the weeds in my garden, which is my picture. That's not my original idea to name it that. I don't remember who I first saw name it that, and I was like, oh, I like that. Just like pulling the weeds in my image. So I adapted that. Then when you use your retouching tools, they're not gonna necessarily automatically be able to work on that empty layer. And that's because of a few settings. When you're using a tool with default settings, these tools act as if no other layers exist except for the one that's active. And so if no other layers existed, only this one, what's in that layer? It's empty. There's nothing there. So if I try to use my Spot Healing Brush and I paint over these people to say get rid of 'em, it just doesn't work. You're like, what's going on? It's broke. Well, that's because there is an icon up here, which yours might be text instead of an icon depending on your Photoshop. It's this one here. And if I hover over it, it says, "Samples cloned data from composited data." That sounds really technical. It should say, "Act like the image is flattened," you know? Act like there are no layers when it comes to how it copies, meaning it can copy from whatever this image looks like regardless of how many layers it's made out of. But the end result, the stuff it's going to add is only going to be deposited on the layer you're working on. Now if you don't have it as an icon, instead, it's gonna be called Sample All Layers, I think. And that's the checkbox. And that means copy from the whole image, but deposit the end result only on this layer that's active. So I'm gonna click that, and I need to turn that on for each one of my retouching tools. So right now, I was in the Spot Healing Brush. And before I move on, I'm gonna switch to the normal Healing Brush. And I'm gonna look, and right now, it's set to Current Layer up here. It's a pop-up menu in this case, Current Layer. I'm gonna say Current & Below. Current & Below. If there's a choice where you have more than one option, choose Current & Below. Sometimes there's not a choice. It's just a single choice. It's a checkbox called Sample All Layers, and if so, you have to use that. Then I'm gonna switch to the Clone Stamp tool. All three of those tools we've been using, and it has it up here, Current & Below. So now, if I use any of those tools, they should be able to work even though what is currently active is an empty layer. It's just by default setting, it only thinks about the layer you're working on as if the other layers don't exist. And so it can't copy from them. But when we change that setting, now, it can suddenly copy from all the other layers. So I'm gonna come in here and try to remove some of these people. I'm not gonna be all that precise about it. I'll use a huge brush here and I'll just be a gorilla of a retoucher and get rid of 'em. There's a problem though. I put my retouching on the top of my layer stack. And in general, that's a no-no. And here's why. My original image is down here. On top of it, I have some adjustment layers. What if I choose to turn off one of these adjustment layers? Will that retouching still match what is in the rest of the image? No. If I turn off all these adjustment layers, I don't know if you can see it though, let me make, I'm gonna do this once more, because I'm gonna make one of these adjustment layers much more obvious. I'll come in here and do a, well here, I'll make it real obvious by making it black and white, okay? That should make it pretty obvious. Now I'm gonna do my retouching on top of that. So the retouched information that's being put on that layer on top is black and white stuff. So if later on, I come in here and say, "Wow, I didn't want the picture black and white," and I turn off the adjustment layer called Black & White, well, that's not gonna look right. And the same is true for all the other adjustment layers. It just is a more subtle adjustment. They were making it have a tiny bit more contrast or something. So you would have noticed it if you looked real close at those areas, that the contrast wouldn't have quite matched, but here, it's more blatantly obvious. So how can we deal with this, where if we wanna do retouching, we have adjustment layers in our picture and we need to be able to have the flexibility of being able to turn on and off those adjustment layers and still have a retouching patch? Well, here's how you do it. I'll get rid of that retouching, turn that adjustment layer back on. I need to create my retouching layer directly above the bottom-most layer in my document. I'm just gonna create a brand new layer when that bottom layer is active, and that's where we'll do our retouching. I'll retouch out these people now. And this is where the choice is actually, it's, hold on. It depends on the tool that I'm using. If the tool I'm using has the choice of Current & Below, you remember that was a choice on some of 'em? Then it means copy from the current layer and all the layers underneath it. And if so, that'll work perfectly fine. It'll be copying from the original image down here, putting the result here, right? But if I have the one that has the checkbox called All Layers, then it could be an issue because that means act as if all these layers have been combined. So when I turn off these eyeballs, let's see, no, it did fine. There's the potential with ones that have the choice of all layers that it would think of all those layers put together and then put the end result down there, and it can sometimes mess things up. But we're fine here, it looks like. But that's where I end up putting my retouching, directly above the original image. Other things that I will commonly do is the bottom-most layer, I usually wanna make sure I don't retouch it because then it's something that's not undoable. It'd be permanently done to that image. So there's a lock symbol right here. This is gonna lock all, but you can lock certain things. I can lock the image pixels, I can lock moving it, and I like to lock all for the bottom layer. That just means preserve this no matter what. That way, my original image is totally preserved. Can't change it even if I try. Then I take the layer that contains the retouching and I click this symbol right here. What does that symbol mean? It means lock position. It means don't let me physically move this layer around by accident. I click that so that now, I can paint on it still and all that, but if I use the Move tool, I can't accidentally move it around. 'Cause sometimes, that can happen, where you got tiny little retouchings in a layer and you just don't realize that layer was active at the time you move something. And there, I can make it now so that it's not gonna get out of alignment with what's underneath it. Does that make any sense? 'Kay. Sometimes, you need to be very careful with aligning things. And we'll talk more about that when we get into advanced retouching. But here, let's say that I need to get rid of these signs. Do you see the sign over here on the right side? If I wanna get rid of that sign, there is very specific information I need to put in there. I can't just have it randomly choose things and expect it to do a good job because if the grout line on those tiles doesn't look right or this blue line doesn't extend all the way across, it's not gonna look right. So we'll try it with a Spot Healing Brush, but I don't expect it to do a good job. That's not the right kinda tile to put in there. That's more like by the edge, and I needed the plain tile in there, right? So the ones that are more automated won't quite do it there. So this is another instance when I might break something up into multiple pieces. I might break it up right here so I can deal with this blue line first. And then I might break it up into other pieces. Get rid of this to begin with, where the grout lines might not be perfect. It just no longer looks like a sheet of paper. It looks like things are somewhat gotten rid of. Then I start putting in the very specifics. But I just wanna show you a little tip about this. We'll see if I can copy from down here. I'm not sure if the angle and everything will be proper, but I'll try. I'll use the Healing Brush. I'm going to attempt to copy from right here, no, actually, right there. Option + Click. I'm looking at the grout line that's here. Do you see that grout line? And thinking where would it be if it continued over there, because do you see this grout line there continues over here and everything? So that gives me a clue as where should the grout line be. I'm gonna get a larger brush and I'm gonna get it so big that I can tell when the blue line makes contact with the blue line that's above. You know, the part up there. So that way, I can go back and forth like this until the blue line touches right spot there. Like that. And then I'm moving up and down to see when does the grout look approximately the right height. So about there. I'm gonna click and let go and then choose Undo. Oh, it's not gonna work in this one. Hold on. There's one other change I'll need to make. I'm not used to this being icons, so it'll take me a minute to find it. Think it's this one. Yes. There's an icon here, it's called Use Same Offset for Each Stroke. On yours, if it's a checkbox, it might be called Aligned, something like that. And what that means is remember the distance that I moved from where I copied to where I started to apply it, even if I use the tool again and again, like I let go, don't reset yourself back or anything. And so by doing so, what I can do is copy from down here, Option + Click, come up here and get a huge brush, where I'm just trying to see if the blue is gonna line up at the top and the grout's at the right height. Think there, the blue lines up pretty good, the vertical line. I'm gonna click to establish how far of a difference it is from where I first Option + Clicked to where I was about to apply it. Then I choose Undo. And now, it's locked in with where it's going to be applied. It's already determined how far it's gonna be moved up there when it is applied. So do you see that? It's stationary within my brush. So now, I can get a smaller brush, whatever size I need to actually cover this area. See if, ooh, that grout line's not quite right, but I'll try to get close, if I can tackle more of it. I shouldn't have gone up that high. I'll choose Undo, try one more time. Not gonna go as high. And this grout line doesn't quite match up. What I will show you when we do advanced retouching is how you can make this move. Like for instance, here, do you notice the grout line not lining up? Do you see how, watch the grout line. Do you see it moving? There's a special technique we can use for moving it. I can scale it, I can even rotate it. But that's advanced retouching. That's not this session. Anyway, I can come in there and apply this. But the main tip there was simply turn on the choice where it's aligned, and sometimes use a huge brush just to see does it line up with various other elements and click when it lines up. Then choose Undo. So you've just established how far up is it going to be moved, and then you can use a small brush to actually apply it. And once you know about the special features that you will learn in our other session, you'll be able to quickly move things over like I am right now. See if you can line it up and that part's not good but, get it close. Alright. So you can do really complex retouching using Photoshop if you just get used to the basic retouching tools. And if you wanna see an example of what kinda retouching that I commonly do, here is one of them. First, on the right side, let me get rid of the tinted black and white. On the right side, do you see this whole awning coming over? You see all this junk that's over here. And if I declutter the right edge, do you see how suddenly, all that stuff is somewhat gone? And if I do this one too, it's all gone. Do you see the tower and telephone lines that are there? Buh-bye. Even though, if you look over here, these things are going right through trees. That kinda stuff. It's mainly learning how to think about the individual tools. And then, electronic sign's gone too. But we'll end up talking more about those kinds of more crazy retouch jobs when we get into advanced retouching, 'kay? So, we've had our little demo time here. And tomorrow, we're gonna talk about blending modes. And blending modes are a menu that you find in many areas of Photoshop, one of which is at the top of your Layers panel. Usually, it says Normal up there. And if you click, there's a long menu of choices. You have things like Multiply, Screen, Hard Light, Soft Light, all that kinda stuff. You also find it in your painting tools. And it's one of my favorite features in all of Photoshop. You can do some really creative things with it and some really useful things with it. So that's what we'll be discussing in tomorrow's episode. But before tomorrow rolls around, why not head on over to Facebook? Remember, we have our private Facebook group there. And if you haven't gone in there yet, here is the website address you can go to to find it. It is a private group, which means you have to ask to join. There's just a button to ask. And the somebody, one of our administrators has to approve you. Don't worry, everybody gets approved. You'll get in. And that's where you can post all your questions. And finally, here's how to find me online if you'd like to check me out on Facebook or go to my website, that kinda thing. I have many other classes. And so if you visit my website, you can find out about those classes. On CreativeLive, my catalog is, I don't know, 30-some classes maybe, that kinda thing, so. Anyway, this has been another episode of Photoshop CC, The Complete Guide. I hope to see you next time.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Color Palettes
Edges and Textures
Hand-drawn Frames
Hand-drawn Graphics
Layout Templates
Practice Images - Lesson 18: Tips and Tricks
Practice Images - Lesson 19: Actions and Automation
Practice Images - Lesson 17: Advanced Layers
Practice Images - Lesson 12: Advanced Masking
Practice Images - Lesson 15: Advanced Retouching
Practice Images - Lesson 10: Blending Modes
Practice Images - Lesson 2: Camera Raw
Practice Images - Lesson 8: Color Adjustments
Practice Images - Lesson 5: Layer Masks
Practice Images - Lesson 4: Layers
Practice Images - Lesson 9: Retouching Essentials
Practice Images - Lesson 3: Selection Essentials
Practice Images - Lesson 14: Shooting for Photoshop
Practice Images - Lesson 13: Smart Objects
Practice Images - Lesson 1: Starting from Zero
Practice Images - Lesson 7: Tonal Adjustments
Practice Images - Lesson 6: Tools and Panels
Practice Images - Lesson 20: Troubleshooting and Advice
Practice Images - Lesson 16: Warp Bend Liquify
Practice Images - Lesson 11: Filters
Script Elements
Week 1 - Day 1 Homework
Week 1 - Day 2 Homework
Week 1 - Day 3 Homework
Week 1 - Day 4 Homework
Week 1 - Day 5 Homework
Week 1 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Bit Depth
Color Modes
Color Spaces
Logic of Keyboard Shortcuts
Pen Tool
Week 2 - Day 6 Homework
Week 2 - Day 7 Homework
Week 2 - Day 8 Homework
Week 2 - Day 9 Homework
Week 2 - Day 10 Homework
Week 2 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Homework - Shooting for Photoshop in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Filters in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Advanced Masking in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Advanced Retouching in Adobe Photoshop CC
Week 3 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Homework - Warp, Bend, Liquify, in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Tips & Tricks in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Actions & Automation in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Troubleshooting & Advice in Adobe Photoshop CC
Homework - Advanced Layers in Adobe Photoshop CC
Week 4 - Photoshop CC Workbook
Bens Actions Sampler ReadMe
Bens Actions Sampler
Bens Styles Sampler ReadMe
Bens Styles Sampler
Texture Sampler
Save for Web
Facebook Q&A #1
Facebook Q&A #2
Q&A #3
PSD Preferences
File Formats
Customizing PSD

Ratings and Reviews


Ben Willmore is exceptionally and intimately knowledgeable about Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, including Bridge and Camera Raw, and how they work together. He's also a wonderful photographer. That's great, but what's even better for us is that he's an incredible and generous teacher. He shares his knowledge and experience in an organized, thorough, thoughtful and relatable way. I envy his efficiency with words and ideas! He isolates hard-to-understand concepts - things we'd be unlikely to figure out on our own - and explains them in simple terms and with on point and memorable examples. I completely enjoy Ben's teaching methods and his personality. His admiration and appreciation of his wife, Karen, are telling of what a good guy he must be, and he's got just an overall pleasant personality. I love his amusement when something "ridiculous" happens during an edit! This bootcamp is fantastic and just what I need. It's only one of Ben's many CL classes that I've watched and learned from - they are all excellent. Thank you, Ben Willmore. (And Karen!)

Lynn Buente

I purchased this course ---SMART MOVE!--because, at 74, I learn more slowly and need more practice. While I've had some "novice" experience with PS, this course is moving me along in a totally different way. Most tutorials just tell you what to do. Ben tells you not only WHAT to do, but WHY (--or why not) and HOW. Understanding better can lead to using the practices in PS more fluently AND to greater freedom to be creative. I find Ben's approach to be kind of a "come as you are" session. No matter where you are on the learning spectrum, there is something to review, something new, or a brand new challenge. The relaxed manner of presentation is great, but doesn't minimize the content of the class. I appreciate the additional explanations and theory. These help to make total sense of the tools and practices of good editing. I would really recommend that, if possible, you purchase the course. The practice images, the homework, and the evolving workbook are great review and reference points. Personally, I have downloaded the classes by week so I can view, re-view, and stop, start, and repeat segments as often as I need to --which is often! Also, sometimes I like to view and work on one segment of the class at a time. My study of this course will be a LOT LONGER than four weeks, and I know I'll be referring to it as long as I'm a Photoshop user. Thanks, Ben! (And thanks to your wife for her contribution as well.)

Carol Senske

I've used PS for about five years in many of it's various versions. Learning on your won is a tough proposition, and I've struggled the whole time. Seeing work I admired and that inspired me to strive for great er things then not being ablr to figure out how to do them was a major frustration. The jargon was sometimes foreign, the complexity of the program overwhelming but I soldiered on and learned bits and pieces. A friend recommended Ben's course and I immediately came to CL to see what she was so thrilled about - I was amazed! Ben is down-to-earth, explains each step, gives shortcuts, defines terms, and shows how to accomplish what he's teaching. After two weeks I bought the class. I not only bought the Photoshop course but I added the Lightroom course as well. I'll do that, on my own, when things slow down a bit, and I have no doubt that course will help me even more than the PS course. I'm totally at sea with LR. I like Ben's teaching style, appreciate all the homework and extras included, and greatly appreciate the magnificent, easy to use, workbook by Ben's wife. I give my wholehearted endorsement for this course!

Student Work