The Spot Removal tool in Camera Raw lets you repair a selected area of an image by sampling from a different area of the same image. Its default behavior enables you to mark areas to touch up by dragging the brush across the photo. For example, in the following photo you could remove a portion of the wire (connecting the helmet and the overhead wire) that is distracting the view of the blue sky.

Using the Spot Removal tool on a raw image means that you are processing the raw image data directly. Working with raw image data directly can provide cleaner matches for retouching (healing or cloning) actions. Also, since any edits and modifications to camera raw images are stored in sidecar files, this process is non-destructive.

The zipline that appears to be connecting the wire and the helmet (image left) has been removed (image right)
The zipline that appears to be connecting the wire and the helmet (image left) has been removed (image right)

Use the Spot Removal tool

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Open a camera raw file.
    • With an image open in Photoshop, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
  2. Select the Spot Removal tool from the toolbar.

  3. Select one of the following from the Type menu:

    Heal Matches the texture, lighting, and shading of the sampled area to the selected area.
    Clone Applies the sampled area of the image to the selected area.

  4. (Optional) In the Spot Removal tool options area under the Histogram, drag the Size slider to specify the size of the area the Spot Removal tool affects.

    Note:

    Use the bracket keys on your keyboard to change brush size

    • Left bracket ([) reduces the tool radius size.
    • Right bracket (]) increases the tool radius size.

  5. In the photo, click and drag the part of the photo to retouch.

    • A red-and-white marquee area (red handle) designates your selection.
    • A green-and-white marquee area (green handle) designates the sampled area.
    Use the Spot Removal tool to retouch the image
    Identify the part of the image to heal, and then use the Spot Removal tool to paint the area. Use the green and red handles (image right) to reposition the selected and sample areas

  6. (Optional) To change the sampled area selected by default, do one of the following:

    • Automatically Click the handle of a selected area, and press the forward slash key (/). A new area is sampled. Press the forward slash key until you find a sample area that fits best.
    • Manually Use the green handle to reposition the sampled area.

    Note:

    When you select larger portions of an image using longer strokes, the right sample area match is not found immediately. To experiment with various options, click the forward slash (/), and the tool auto-samples more areas for you.

  7. To remove all the adjustments made using the Spot Removal tool, click Clear All.

Keyboard shortcuts and modifiers

Circular spot:

  • Control/Command + click to create a circular spot; drag to set the source of the spot.
  • Command/Control + Option/Alt + click to create a circular spot; drag to set the size of the spot.

Rectangular selection:

  • Click Option/Alt + drag to define a rectangular selection. All spots within that selection (highlighted in red) are deleted once the mouse is released.

Extend a selected area or spot:

  • Shift + click to extend an existing selected spot in "connect the dots" fashion.

Delete a selected area or spot:

  • Select a red or green handle, and press Delete to delete a selected adjustment.
  • Press Option/Alt and click a handle to delete it.

Clean up a photo with the Visualize Spots feature

While working on a computer screen, you may be able to identify and remove most visible spots or imperfections. However, when you print a photo at its full resolution, the printed output may contain many imperfections that were not visible on a computer screen. These imperfections could be of many types: dust on a camera sensor, blemishes on a model's skin in a portrait, tiny wisps of clouds on blue skies. At full resolution, these imperfections are visually distracting.

The Visualize Spots feature lets you search for imperfections that may not be immediately visible. When you select the Visualize Spots checkbox (found in the options for the Spot Removal tool), the image is inverted. You can then use the Spot Removal tool in the Visualize Spots mode to clean up the image further.

The Visualize Spots checkbox
The Visualize Spots checkbox is a Spot Removal tool option

  1. Do one of the following:

    • Open a camera raw file.
    • With an image open in Photoshop CC, choose Filter > Camera Raw Filter.
  2. Select the Spot Removal tool from the toolbar, and then select the Visualize Spots checkbox.

    The image is inverted, and the outlines of the image's elements are visible.

    Visualize Spots view is on, and unnecessary elements have been removed (top); Visualize Spots view is off, and unnecessary elements have been removed (bottom)
    Above, Visualize Spots view is off, and unnecessary elements like wispy clouds (left) have been removed (right)

  3. Use the Visualize Spots slider to vary the contrast threshold of the inverted image. Move the slider to different contrast levels to view imperfections like sensor dust, dots, or other unwanted elements.

    Note:

    When the Spot Visualization checkbox is selected, to change the visualization threshold:

    • Increase: Press period (.)
    • Increase (in larger steps): Press Shift+period (.)
    • Reduce: Press comma (,)
    • Reduce (in larger steps): Press Shift=comma (,)

  4. Use the Spot Removal tool to clone or heal out unwanted elements in the photo. Uncheck the Visualize Spots checkbox to view the resulting image.

  5. Repeat steps 2, 3, and 4 as needed.

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