Photoshop: How To Remove Pimples and Blemishes :: Digital Photo Secrets

Photoshop: How To Remove Pimples and Blemishes

by David Peterson 7 comments

Ah, the dreaded pimple on picture day. If you’ve got a teen, or have been a teen yourself, you know what it’s like. You can’t stop that photographer from taking the picture, so it looks you have no other choice but to take matters into your own hands and learn some photoshopping skills. Here’s a quick and easy way to clear up that pimply face.

Photoshop provides an array of tools that you can use to retouch your photos. In this tutorial, we’re going to use a combination of the blur and clone stamp tools to get rid of the pimple on the boy’s face. The clone stamp tool will cover up the pimple, and blur tool will buff it out. Let’s give it a try.

The first tool we’re going to use is the Photoshop clone stamp. You can find the clone stamp in the left toolbar, next to the bandaid, the paintbrush, and the gradient tool.

We’ll also want to pick a brush size for our tool. If we pick a brush that’s too big, we won’t be able to cover up the fine details, and our boy’s chin will look a little strange. To change our brushes, we’ll go to the window menu item, and we’ll select “brushes.”

When you do this, another window pop up, this time containing all of your brush options. We’re going to pick a smaller brush with an airbrush effect. The airbrush effect smoothes the edges and blends as we cover up our pimple.

What the clone stamp does and how it works

The clone stamp copies on part of your photo to another part of your photo. To do that, we first set an anchor point on some clear skin, and then we use the clear skin to paint over the pimple. For the best results, you’ll want to pick an anchor point that’s close enough to the pimple to get the skin texture correct but still far away enough to avoid copying the pimple itself.

To place your anchor point, simply hold down the Alt key while using the clone stamp tool.

Now we can start painting over the pimple with the clone stamp tool. Move the pointer over to the pimple and keep painting until you’ve covered it up with the clear section of skin.

Here’s what I got after covering it up. Now this actually isn’t all that bad. In fact, the only way you’d know it was Photoshopped is if you were told it was. All the same, we can do better. The smudge tool will help us smooth out some of the edges our clone stamp tool left behind.

How to use the smudge tool to remove edges

The smudge tool blends colors together and blurs them, smoothing out rough skin and softening edges. You can find the smudge tool by holding down the right mouse button over the tear-drop shaped icon on the left tool panel in Photoshop.

Don’t worry about changing the brush size on this one. We’ll just stick with the same one we used to cover up the pimple. The smudge tool is best used wherever you see edges that need to be smoothed. I like to work the smudge tool from one color to another, blending them together and smoothing.

It’s also a good idea to zoom in a little further so you can the see the area you’ll be modifying.

This picture has already been fixed with the smudge tool. Can you see where it was modified? I only went along the edges of the clone stamp’s work, and that was it.

I’ll give you this warning. It’s really easy to get carried away with the smudge tool. As soon as you start smudging further and further outward, you need to do more smudging to keep your image looking consistent. Eventually, your face has no texture and is simply too smooth to look real.

By sticking only to the area I modified with the clone stamp, I’ve managed to keep the rest of the texture in the boy’s face. It’s a photoshopped look that isn’t “photoshopped.” Here’s the final result:

It’s kind of funny because he’s pointing to nothing, but this stuff really works. The pimple is completely gone, and you can’t tell it was photoshopped.

Another use of the clone stamp and smudge tool

Have you ever taken photos with your digital SLR and gotten a bunch of black dots all over your image? Those dots are from dust that’s sitting on your camera’s image sensor. If you don’t get your image sensor cleaned every now and again, the dots won’t go away. I recommend you getting the sensor cleaned, as you don't want those dots over all your images.

However, if you have taken a special shot you want to keep, you can use the same techniques we used in this article to get rid of sensor dust dots by covering them with the clone stamp and blurring the edges with the smudge tool.

Do you have any photo retouching tools you like to use? I want to know. Send me an email with a before and after picture as well as a description of the tools you used.

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  1. kathy says:

    great tutorial thanks for this.i have some tutorial to share with others.hope this can help for beginners.

  2. vijayakumar says:

    use content fill in CS5 -cool tool!!

  3. Henk says:

    Try the patchtool. Draw around de blemish, drag to select a clean area, let go and ready. A lot of photographers use it. It works a little beter than the healingbrush

  4. Paul Charsley says:

    another way is you can duplicate the image add a Gaussian blur and then add a vector mask to have the sharpened areas come through. If you use a soft brush it blends quite well. Good for wrinkles too.

  5. Go Inspire says:

    I hadn't tried the smudge tool after cloning. I'll have to try that.
    I practically abandoned the clone tool when the healing brush and spot healing brush came along. They seem to do the trick for me on smaller areas like blemishes.
    Thanks for the tips!

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