Using The Healing Brush Tool In Photoshop [Tutorial]

Photoshop is a photographer’s best friend. Have you ever taken what you thought was a perfect photo only to realize afterwards there were a bunch of distracting spots or blemishes? Fortunately, there’s a handy tool that can magically eliminate these annoying distractions. Keep reading to learn how to use the healing brush tool in Photoshop, a phenomenal editing software.

beautiful girl with butterful on mouth

Check out how much better the second image looks than the first.

girl with blue eyes

Here’s the original image:


girl with pimples

There are five different tools in the healing tools toolbox. In this post, I want to talk about the first two tools; the spot healing brush tool and the healing brush tool. They are two of the most used tools in the Photoshop tool bar. They’re awesome for smoothing skin, and removing unnecessary elements from the background of an image.

The Spot Healing Brush Tool

The spot healing brush tool is the 7th tool from the top in the toolbar, and the first of the healing tools. The shortcut key is the letter “J” on the keyboard. You’ll always see the short command to the right of the tool. See below:

healing brush tool in Photoshop

Before I start editing with the healing tools, I complete all my basic edits, such as cropping, correcting exposure and color balance, and dodging and burning. To begin using the spot healing brush, first create a new layer so you can toggle your layers on and off to see your progress.

Go to “Layer,” “New,” and “New Layer:”

creating a new layer

You’ll see this box pop up. Name your layer. I’m naming mine “Blemish Removal.”

Naming new layer

Open an image you want to edit. I chose the one below because it’s the perfect type of photo for using the spot healing tool. As you can see, the girl’s complexion needs some work!

girl with blue eyes and pimples


Learn Photo Editing

To begin editing, I select the spot healing brush while working on my new layer. To make the brush bigger or smaller, press the [ ] keys. To remove each blemish, I’ll I need to do is place my brush, using my mouse cursor or stylus pen, on the area I want to remove.

Simply click this area with your brush, and presto the blemish is gone. To change the brush size, hardness, angle, and pen pressure, go to the brush icon on the top, left hand side of the screen. Now press the drop down area to see these controls, and adjust them accordingly.

brush size in Photoshop

Here’s what the edited image looks like:


edited image

Much better, right?


Save 20% on the white Refurbished Canon EOS M50 Body and Kit with promo code FEBFLASH, plus free shipping! Kit (final price $575.99)


Healing Brush Tool

The spot healing brush is the default healing tool, and is similar to the healing brush, however it does not require a source point. Both brushes are adept at fixing imperfections in an image, but the healing brush tool does so by sampling the surrounding area, in order to blend the edited area, into the rest of the image. It is more applicable for editing larger areas that require more complex editing.

Unlike the spot healing brush tool, when using the healing brush tool, you’ll need to press the “Option” key to sample a source point before editing. It behaves quite similar to the clone stamp tool.

Check out Adobe products here.

Watch the video below for how to use the spot healing brush and healing brush tool in real time:

Key Points

Photoshop is the premiere editing software for photographers, developers, and graphic designers. The healing brush tools are indispensable for eliminating distracting spots and marks from an image. Because I’m a portrait photographer, I use them extensively for removing blemishes and smoothing skin tone, and rely heavily on these tools to transform a good image into a great one!

Watch 36 Photoshop tutorials for the price of a camera strap

What’s your favorite tool in Photoshop? Let me know in the comments:)


10 thoughts on “Using The Healing Brush Tool In Photoshop [Tutorial]”

  1. Fascinating. Edited pictures can do a lot for the self esteem of a person. Adobe Photoshop is probably that best and most popular software among it’s competitors and there’s no secret why. 

    Features like the one you highlighted in this tutorial are just mind boggling when you realize how images can be so highly manipulated. Totally a fan of Photoshop. But I’m a very basic user

    • Very true, Photoshop is unrivaled in the editing software world, and for good reason. It is possible to totally transform images, but what I prefer, is to edit my images so they look natural, just enhanced. 

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. Although I am not an expert, I have become accustomed to using Photoshop, and am slowly becoming better at it. Before I started using Photoshop, I was really amazed at the way my photos turned out. They had spots on them that were easily removed with the spot healing tool. And it didn’t take much time at all. 

    As soon as I started making use of Photoshop, I realized that many pictures we see today are in fact edited. I think the healing brush tool is amazing, and I have used it many times to make my photos better. 

    Photoshop is a must for anyone that wants to take their images up a notch! Thank you… 

    • Thanks for you comment Jay,

      It takes a while to learn Photoshop, but slowly over time, you’ll get familiar with the different tools and how to use them. The healing tools are definitely indispensable for me, especially for editing portraits. 

      I would venture to guess that virtually every photographer today uses Photoshop because of its versatility!

  3. I absolutely love this insightful article because it is full of great information. This is fascinating and intriguing to me. You did an excellent job of providing education and resources; The article was well written and easy to understand.

    I am just learning how to use Photoshop, but I didn’t know how to use the spot healing brush tool to edit my images. This is another eye-opener for me and I will make sure I implement this knowledge. 

    • Thank you Ola!

      Experiment with the healing tools in Photoshop. There’s not much of a learning curve, and you’ll love the results!

  4. Honestly, I don’t like to fiddle around with my photographs, especially when it comes to people’s faces. Like most of us today, I don’t use cameras any more, even though a Canon mirror camera stands on my shelf. 

    Smartphones now have great options for correcting photos. But photoshop is a really great software, although I’m a beginner in applying it. I have a lot of photos I need edited. I’ll have to try the spot healing brush tool! 

    Thank you!

    • Andre,

      You can use Photoshop to edit the photos you shoot on your phone. I know what you mean about using your phone a lot. I do as well. Photoshop is an amazing software with so many applications it can be dizzying.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  5. This is an awesome article! Informative and exhaustive with a great expository skill. Photoshop is a great tool for photographers who love retouching photos. Photoshop is a software application for image editing and photo retouching for use on Windows or Mac OS computers. 

    I am a Photoshop user and lover but I have never use the healing brush tool in Photoshop. Thus, this article is an eye opener for me and many users of Photoshop. Thanks for the information!

    • Thank you. Yes, Photoshop is simply the best, isn’t it?!

      Give the healing tools a try. They’re easy to use and so effective. You’ll love them!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.