If you’ve ever dealt with a damaged photo before, chances are that you have a little bit of experience with the Photoshop Patch Tool. As a “healing brush tool,” the Patch Tool can help you repair the damage, deal with blemishes, and let you get a little creative with retouching.

The Patch Tool is especially effective if you’re dealing with portrait photography, but you can use it with any kind of subject you want. Regardless of your skill level or what type of photography you work with, these tutorials help you understand about working with the Patch Tool in Photoshop: 

What is the Patch Tool Used For? 

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Photo by TheAngryTeddy Licensed Under CC0

Whether you’re trying to erase an embarrassing pimple or deal with retouching a huge part of your picture, the Patch Tool is effective in both scenarios. This Photoshop tool works by “cloning” certain parts of the picture onto the damaged section. Many people can repair even large sections of their photos without it being noticeable.

However, as a cloning and spot healing brush tool, the Patch Tool will make the lighting, texture, and color of the section you took it from. If you’re trying to repair a section of the photo that has completely different lighting, this can be an issue. It’s also important to remember that the Patch Tool can begin to look a little different if you’re using it multiple times, especially in the same spot. 

Where is the Patch Tool Located? 

Once you put your image in Photoshop CS6, the next step is figuring out where the Patch Tool in Photoshop is located. When you go to the Tools Panel, you should be able to locate the Patch Tool in Photoshop under the Healing Brushes panel.

Why Use the Patch Tool?

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Like any of the healing brushes, the Patch Tool has its downsides for an image, but there are also plenty of reasons to use it as well. Firstly, many object removal tools only work with small sections of your image.

You can use a spot healing brush tool to remove a pimple, but getting rid of a giant stain or an unwanted object in the background can be tricky. This is where the Patch Tool can come in handy in Adobe Photoshop.

Unlike a lot of similar tools, the Patch brush can repair large areas of the image without looking out of place. You can also use it with any selection tool, so you have a little bit more flexibility than some other healing brushes. 

Don’t Alter the Original Image

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One of the issues that people run into when they select the Patch Tool and many object removal brushes is using these tools without making permanent changes or damages to the original image. 

One of the best ways to work non-destructively is to create a new layer above the original background layer and select the Content-Aware option from the options bar and menu while you’ve got the Patch Tool handy.

This way, you can hide potential distractions with a blank layer with the Content-Aware button but still sample all the information from the image layers below. 

The alternative to using the Content-Aware option from the options bar is slightly more complicated and might require a selection tool with the Patch brush. If you want to use the Patch Tool in Normal Mode, you’re going to need to work on a layer that still preserves all the image information. 

To use normal mode without affecting the original background layer, you’ll need to create a new layer, go to the Image menu, and select the option to Apply Image.

This will give you a snapshot of every visible layer on the new blank layer you’ve created while you’re still in normal mode. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with an image, some photographers might choose to use content-aware while others don’t. 

Destination and Source

When you want to fill in an area with the Patch tool from the menu, there are two ways you can do so on your image. The first option, Source, lets you select the area that you want to remove from the photo and then click and drag the area that you want to replace it with. Photoshop calls this the “Source” method. 

The Destination method in Photoshop works a little differently on your image than Source does. All you need to do is click an area of the image and drag it to the place you want it to replace. 

How To Use Patch Tool in Photoshop to Clean Up Your Image 

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A lot of people like to use the Patch Tool to clean up or tidy up an almost perfect image. Instead of scrapping the whole photo, tidying it up with the Patch Tool should only take a few minutes. These tutorials can give you a better idea of what to do.

Open the Photograph

The first step of these tutorials is opening your photo in Photoshop. The version you use is important. If you’re using CC2018, Photoshop CS6, or a later version, this method should work for cleaning up the photo. For earlier versions, you might need to adjust a few of the steps.

After you’ve selected the photo you want to clean up, and put it in Photoshop tutorials, you’ll also want to click on the Content-Aware option from the options bar and get ready to use the Patch Tool. 

Select the Area You’re Trying to Remove

The next step in these tutorials is to select the area you want to remove with the Patch Tool in Photoshop and which area you want to duplicate. It should allow you to “draw” around this area, and a dotted line that looks like little ants marching should appear. This line marks the area that you’re getting rid of with the Patch Tool. 

Clear the Space

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Now that you’ve got the area you want to get rid of in Patch Tool Photoshop, the next step is to clear the space and duplicate. You can click the area you’ve drawn, and drag it to a nearby area that’s clear. 

Your original shape should have a similar appearance to the new area, and the object you wanted to get rid of should be completely gone. You can use a keyboard shortcut (ctrl + d) to also get rid of the ‘marching ant line’ that the Patch Tool gives you. Now, you can duplicate with the Patch Tool, and should have your end result. 

Conclusion

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Photo by Jason Strull Licensed Under CC0

Many people use the Patch Tool to get rid of distractions or erase blemishes, but there’s no reason to limit yourself with what you can duplicate. Although you should be careful to make sure you don’t damage the original background layer when you adjust the image, there are plenty of different things you can do with the Patch Tool.

Feel free to experiment with the tool, try out different software, and get a different result. It won’t be long before you’re a pro at using the Patch Tool.