There are several retouch tools in Photoshop and you can use them effectively on any images from portraits to landscapes. You only need to learn how to work with them properly. In this section we will go through the 3 basic retouch tools: Clone Stamp tool, Healing Brush tool, Spot Healing Brush tool and we will also discuss how to use the Liquify filter properly for more complicated retouch scenarios. Finally I would also like to share a special technique for adding shadows and highlights to an image completely nondestructively.

Parts of this series:
1. Digital Image Theory
2. Working with Bridge
3. User Interface
4. Making Selections
5. Tonal and Colour Adjustments
6. Working with Layers
7. Retouching Images

Clone Stamp tool

The Clone Stamp tool is the most practical way to get rid of disturbing parts in your photographs but it can also duplicate parts of an image.

You need to define a sample point first with Alt/Option clicking on the part you would like to copy to somewhere else and than just simply start painting over the parts you would like to hide.

There are three important rules when you use the Clone Stamp tool:
1. Always make a blank new layer and make your retouch on that layer (you will need to set the sampling to All layers for the Clone tool).
2. Use a soft edge brush for the cloning.
3. Try to sample from edges and align your starting point of your cloning properly.

Healing Brush tools

TThe Healing Brush tool works very similarly to the Clone Stamp tool, the only difference is that it blends the colours of the original and the copied parts together.

It is hard to define when to use Healing Brush tool instead of the Clone Stamp tool. I always use them side by side. Generally I start with the Clone tool and then smoothen out the edges with the Healing Brush. Remember to also set the sampling for this tool to All layers.

The Spot Healing Brush tool does the same as the Healing Brush but you don’t have to define sample points, it will automatically find them when you draw over the parts that you would like to get rid of.

In Photoshop CS5 you have the amazing Content-aware function added to the Spot Healing Brush tool, which makes it even better.

Liquify filter

Liquify is a special retouch filter, which can reshape your layer’s content in a special way. There are several tools in the filter, but the most useful one is the first called Forward Warp tool. With this tool you can change shapes in your images and keep them real at the same time.

You can always redraw the original image if you add Alt/Option while drawing with the Forward Warp tool.

Dodge and Burn

The Dodge and Burn tool are for changing the exposure of the image by drawing over parts of it, but they are destructive tools.

To do the same thing you can make a blank layer, fill it with 50% grey colour and then change its blend mode to Overlay or Soft Light.

If you paint black or white on this layer you will be able to add shadows and highlights to the layers below it. This is the nondestructive way.

Conclusion and advices

I hope you found this tutorial series useful, easy and fun. It’s your turn now to unleash your imagination and create something extraordinary!

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About the author 

Martin Perhiniak

Martin Perhiniak is a Certified Adobe Design Master and Instructor. He was voted to be one of the top 10 Adobe instructors in the world by student feedback in 2015. In his online courses besides the technical knowledge you need, Martin will also teach you a lot about design principles, compositional techniques and plenty of best practices that he picked up and developed while working as a designer and retoucher on projects such as Pixar’s Cars and Toy Story, BBC’s Dr Who or Mattel’s Team Hot Wheels. He feels it his mission to share his insights of the design industry and its latest trends with beginners and creative professionals around the World.

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