BVI’s Photoshop Tool of the Day: Healing Brush Tool

In today’s blog post I’ll be showing you how to use the healing brush tool to edit out small details from a photo. You will be able to use this technique to edit out wires from a shot, cover up holes or any small defect.

The healing brush tool can be found by clicking and holding on the spot healing brush and then selecting healing brush from the drop down menu.

Healing Brush: selecting your source

The healing brush tool is used by alt-clicking the spot you’d like to use as your source and then painting over the spot you’d like covered up. The healing brush essentially copies the part of the image you select as the source and tries to blend it over wherever you paint.


Healing Brush: normal mode and replace mode

When you have the healing brush selected you can choose between different modes on the option toolbar that appears at the top of the window. The only modes you’ll need to use are normal and replace. For fixes like this it’s good to start with replace and then switch to normal once you’ve covered up the thing you are trying to fix. Normal mode is good for smoothing out the area where you replaced part of the image. In the example below I use this two mode method to erase a framed picture from the wall.


This example is a little bit more difficult. There is a plant growing out of a gutter. The plant isn’t just covering up a solid part of a wall, it is overlapping the siding of the house and two sections of the gutter. We will want to replace the plant with samples taken from the image. When working with siding on houses, or wallpaper with lines running through it, it helps to sample something adjacent to the part you want to cover up. The lines curve slightly so it is important to sample from a place closeby as to minimize the difference between the lines. To cover up the part where the plant overlaps the gutter and the side of the house you should sample from a place higher up on the gutter, being careful to make sure the horizontal lines match up. For this example you’ll need to use alt-click a lot to sample different sections. I sampled from higher up on the vertical gutter, higher up on the diagonal gutter, and I sampled from some of the house on either side of the vertical gutter. After you’ve successfully covered up the plant with the “replace” mode you can switch to normal and smooth out any blending marks. Normal mode is a softer touch and helps make a smooth gradient between color differences. A really useful shortcut for any brush tool is using the “[“ and “]” keys to quickly adjust the brush size.


Being able to effectively edit something out often depends on what is behind the object you want to remove. After looking through the lens you can often reposition a cord to make it easier to edit out in photoshop. If a cord is going along the wall and back and forth across the molding that can be very time consuming to edit out. But if you coil up the cord and pull it out into an empty spot on the floor this makes for a quick edit later.


I hope you found this tutorial useful and have a better understanding of the abilities of the photoshop healing brush tool. This tool can be used for editing out much more interesting things than cords or plants. Use your imagination! Share your photoshop creations with us!