Photoshop tips and tricks for using the Spot Healing and Clone tool to remove problems from an image. I also demonstrate using a separate layer for the fix so it can be erased, blended or undone.


Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this video tutorial. In this tutorial we’re going to have a look at the Spot Healing Brush tool and the Cloning tool in Photoshop and look at some tips for getting a more effective and quick result using these tools.

When it comes to practicing with the Clone Stamp tool this image is just wonderful. It’s one I use in my face to face classes and I’m going to use it here to show you some of the techniques that I would use in fixing this image. What I’m looking to do is to remove the signs of the light pole and this sign here, everything that sort of detracts from a rather quaint little English house. I’m not going to crop until I finish so I want to just start off with fixing what I see as the problem for what I want to fix with this image.

The first thing I’m going to do is to drag the background layer onto this New Layer icon because that makes a duplicate off it. I could also right click and choose Duplicate Layer or I could click Layer, Duplicate Layer. All I want is a duplicate of the image layer so that I’m working on a copy, not on the original.

Now I’m going to add a new blank layer, again just this time by clicking on Create a New Layer or I could choose Layer, New Layer and that would add a new blank layer. The reason why I like to use a new blank layer when I can is that I can put my fixes on this layer and then blend them in later on if I want to or remove them if they’re not quite right or continue to fix them if I need to.

So I’m going to start with this particular problem with the Spot Healing Brush tool because if this tool works it’s just Simply the easiest tool that you can use. Now I’ve just turned off my Caps Lock key so I can see the size of my brush and I’ve got my layer selected. And I have Sample all Layers selected up here. That means that I can sample the layers below but apply the fix to this layer so I’m going to click here and then just Shift Click here to draw a line with my Spot Healing Brush tool. And that takes out that entire piece of electric wire. And I’m going to do the same here. And I’ll continue down here. And hopefully we’ll make it around that bend in the wire, which we did. So we’ve got a reasonably good fix happening there.

Here I’m probably going to have to paint it on because the wire bends too much to use that little trick, but certainly for a straight piece of wire the Click Shift Click option is by far the quickest way of getting rid of things. And I’ll do that here too, Click and then Shift Click to try and get rid of some of this detail in here. I’m going to zoom in so I can see my problem area a bit more clearly, and again, I’m looking for a good fix around here. And I can size my brush down with the Square Bracket key if I want to.

And here I need to get rid of this entire piece here so I’m thinking that probably the Clone Stamp tool would be better for this. So I’m going to switch to the Clone Stamp tool and I’m going to add a new layer because again I don’t want to be doing this on an original. And I want to be able to turn this stuff on and off if necessary if I need to make some fixes like I have lost some pieces over there which I’ll have a look at a little bit later. The Clone tool is one where you have to take a sample. So you want to make it about the size that you want to work with so I’m thinking about this size would be good. And then you’re going to take a sample of the place that you want to start painting with so I just really want the very edge of this chimney. And so I’m going to Alt Click on this position to sample it. I’ve got Sample all Layers selected and so now I can just position my mouse where it is, I can see a little preview of what I’m painting with, and I can just paint an edge onto that chimney and paint out that bracket. And now I need to get some fresh sky so I’m going to Alt Click on some fresh sky and just paint that in over here so that we’ve got rid of that piece. And I want to go back over here to the area where I lost a piece of that chimney.

If I turn this layer off that’s what I get. If I turn it back on again you can see that I really do have some problems and I haven’t done a particularly good fix here. So I’m thinking with this layer I’m just going to erase the bits of the fix that I don’t like and do it some other way, so just double click on that brush to select it. This is an eraser so I’m just going to go into the area where I want to erase back some detail. I can just check and see.

I think I’ve pretty much got what I want to have back into the image at that point. And again, I think I need to do a little bit of cloning here. I’ll just add a new layer just in case I make a mess of it, size my brush down. And with the Clone tool we have to take a sample so I’m going to click here right on the edge and then build back in the edge of my bricks here as I go down. And then I would come back in Alt Click on this and just remove the bits that I want to remove.

Let’s go back to the main image because there are some things that we can use to make some really wholesale fixes here, again New Layers every time. I’m concerned about this light pole here and finding a good fix for it. But as you can see this is a reasonably good fix for this area. What’s happening here is pretty much what’s happening here. So we could go and get the Clone Stamp tool, pick a fairly sizable brush, we could Alt Click just where the — I’m just picking the area. I’m just going to get a pointer here so you can see. I’m just going to pick the area here between this dark and this light roof and the line so that I’m going to start painting it on over here.

So let’s just go back and get the Clone Stamp tool. So this is where I’m going to click to sample. So that’s my sample point and now I can start painting it in. I’m just going to line it up with the piece of roof here. And there we’ve got rid of the worst of that pole. Now we’ve obviously overstepped the mark a little bit, but that’s really not a worry because we could come back to this layer here and erase it. We could just use an eraser so I’m just going to enlarge my Eraser tool here and just on this layer just erase back in that little edge so I’ve got a sort of blending with the original content on that layer.

So I’m going to come back with the Clone tool here. I’m going to have a look at this bottom edge here so I’m going to sample here and start my sample point about here and then just paint this bottom edge in so that we’re getting a sort of consistent look to our roof. And then we can just come back in and Alt Click on some surrounding area here and just use it to clone out that. In actual fact that’s not a very good situation. Maybe we would find it better if we used the Spot Healing Brush tool. And if we did use the Spot Healing Brush tool then we’re going to use this new empty layer that we created a little bit early and fix on it instead. The Spot Healing Brush tool is doing a better job of getting rid of this content here than the Clone tool, but you just need to work out which tools work. In some cases the Clone tool is an ace tool to use, in other cases it may not be what you need.

With this window here there’s a slight problem because we’d need to make up some content that we didn’t already have. But you’ll see that this window is probably a pretty good fix for this one and so too is this one. So if I were to fix up this window surrounds first and just get this looking the way I want it to then I can come in with the Clone Stamp. I’m just ignoring making layers at this stage just to show you what I’m looking for. So I’m actually going to work out which bit of this image I’m going to start sampling on, probably the top corner of this windowsill, start sampling it. And then we’re going to line it up here and paint. And there we’ve got a window back and again, probably the Spot Healing Brush tool I’m thinking for the rest of this plant, at least until we get into the area where we have to start creating content that we don’t have easily available in the surrounding content. And for this I’m thinking this is going to be just fine. So again, back into the Clone Stamp tool, go and find some content we can use starting at the corner of this thing, lining it up to make sure it’s going to fit properly when I start painting it and Click and paint. Now again, we’ve got a fix that’s not perfect here because we’ve started running into wall problems and things. But we can take the Spot Healing Brush and blend it in using that or we could have just erased it. I don’t know what the Spot Healing Brush– it does a reasonable fix of that too.

So that’s how I would approach the task of fixing this image is just having a look and seeing which tool will apply best. If you can use the Spot Healing Brush tool it’s obviously the easiest tool that you can use, so use it. If you need to then perhaps look at the Clone Stamp tool. And sometimes what I’ll do is just go and grab a piece of something. So for example here I might just go and grab this piece of roof here and just say okay well that’s going to fix this area here. So I’m going to do Edit, Copy and I’ll do– I’m not getting it from here so I need to get off this layer, Copy and then Paste it. We’ve got a duplicate piece of the roof and we can just move it into position here, size it if it’s a little bit too big, adjust its rotation, and then just blend it in to make up the bit of the roof that we didn’t have.

So here it is here and now I’m just going to erase over the edges of it, perhaps not quite that much, but erase over the edges, smooth it out a little bit, maybe use some Spot Healing Brush tool because we’re sampling all the layers here to get rid of the greenery and to try and blend this piece in. If I make a mistake, well not actually make a mistake, but if the blending process is not what I want I’ll just Ctrl Alt Z to undo it and go back to where I was.

And so I just continue working on this. But you can see that it’s not going to be a huge job to clean up this house. And let’s just see where we came from. This is what it looked like and this is what we’ve managed to achieve so far.

I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial. Look out for more tutorials on my YouTube channel. Like this video if you like it and visit for more tips, tricks and tutorials on Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and Lightroom.

Helen Bradley