Removing Spots and Wrinkles

Select the Clone Stamp tool from the tool palette. When you select it, you’ll see that at the top of the screen is a box with a drop-down arrow, labelled Brush Presets. Click on this, and select a soft round brush 21 pixels in diameter. This should be ideal for our portrait shot, though if your pictures are of a different size you may need a smaller or larger brush.

Pick an area adjacent to the skin blemish that you wish to remove. It needs to be a good match for the skin tone around the blemish, because we’re going to use a sample of this area to cover up the blemish.

Hold down the ‘Alt’ key on your keyboard and you’ll see the cursor change to a round cross-hair. Click this cross-hair on the point you want to start sampling. In some image editing programs, including Paint Shop Pro, you right-click to select the sample point.

Using short, smooth strokes with your mouse or graphics pen, paint over the blemish you want to hide. You’ll see that there is a cross that follows the path of the brush cursor, indicating the place from which the sample is being taken. Keep an eye on this, because if it passes over any other marks, these will be copied too. You may need to use several sample points to cover up a larger blemish, but with practice you can achieve apparent miracles with this technique.

Remember that you can drag the image around on the screen at any time by holding down the space bar and left-clicking the mouse.

Photoshop Elements has another tool for removing skin blemishes, which while not as precise as the Clone Stamp, is certainly quicker and easier to use. It’s called the Healing Brush, and you’ll find it on Photoshop 7, CS1 and CS2, as well as Elements from version 3.0 onwards. Paint Shop Pro X and XI have tools called the Scratch Remover and Makeover Tool, which operate in much the same way.

The Healing Brush is best for small blemishes such as spots or small scars. To use it, Alt-click anywhere on the image that has skin texture, and then simply click over the blemish you wish to remove. We’ll use the same 21-pixel soft brush as before. Go over each blemish in turn. If you’re not satisfied with the result, remember that you can undo each step by using Ctrl-Z. Photoshop Elements 5.0 supports multiple undoes, as do Paint Shop Pro and most other recent editing programs.

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