There are occasions when a subjects skin only has a few trouble spots that could use light retouching. For that, I like to use a simple fade selection with the patch tool, and I want to share that technique today.


In this photo, my very sad looking daughter has a few spots Id like to touch up on her forehead, nose, and under her eyes. I do want to preserve most of the wrinkle above her eyebrows, as it is part of her expression, but some of the shadowing is a little strange and makes the skin look uneven.

I will be using the patch tool, but take note that this technique can be used with brushes, clone stamp, and more.

1. Duplicate Background

After opening the image in Photoshop, duplicate the background layer [Command+J for Mac or Control+J for PC] to make the changes in a non-destructive format.

2. Select the Patch Tool

Next, select the Patch tool by right clicking the Spot Healing Brush drop down menu. Make sure that the Mode in the Options bar is set to Normal and Source.PatchSelection

3. Making Your Patch Selection

Using the Patch Tool, draw around the areas you want to clean up, leaving a bit of room around the edges. Then, click and drag the selected area to a nearby area of skin that is similar in texture.

PatchUndereyeAs you can see, the patched spot under her eye was a little too obvious and not at all flattering. To create a more natural look, we will fade the patched area.

4. Fade Selection

From the menu bar, go to Edit > Fade Patch Selection.

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.42.12 PM

5. Change Opacity

A box will pop up that will allow the opacity of the patched area to be adjusted. Adjust the slider until the patched area looks natural and has a nice faded edge. Generally, anywhere between 50-60% creates a nice natural fade.

While adjusting the opacity slider, the change will be visible. Once it looks good, press ENTER to accept the adjustment. I felt happy with the fade at 57% for the area under her eye, camera-left.


You can see in the before & after the areas that I cleaned up using this technique are nice and subtle with no obvious edges.BeforeAfter2

As I mentioned, this technique can be used for most selection tools, and gives us most control over the final results. Give it a try and let me know how it worked for you in the comment section below.