When and how to use the Patch tool in Photoshop

The Patch Tool retouches image using sampled pixels or pattern from a target area. It works as a combination of the Healing Brush and the Lasso Tool. In CS6 Adobe introduced the Content Aware Patch Tool which made the tool indispensable to your post processing arsenal. But the question is, since we have the Spot Healing Brush and the Clone Stamp Tool why do we want to bother with an additional one that does the same?

The Patch tool is great for fixing flaws in a photo like smoothing wrinkles and removing power cables intelligently. As a matter of fact the Patch tool often provides better results and more quickly than the Clone Stamp tool. As a matter of fact the Patch tool also combines the selection power of Photoshop all in one tool.

The tool uses a complex algorithm from Adobe engineers where it not only heals flaws and hides components, it does it with an intelligent blend algorithm on the selection.  With the tool selected, it operates in a lasso selection mode to define the area to ‘patch from' and drag and move to select the area to 'patch to'. You can hold down the Option key (Mac), Alt key (PC) to temporarily convert the tool to become a polygonal lasso tool with which to draw straight lines.

As a mater of fact, any selection method can be used with the patch tool. Once a selection is done, select the patch tool to proceed. The selection area will preview the image as you drag the selection to define the patch selection.

The simplest way to understand the Patch tool is to practice on an image. Begin by opening any photo in Photoshop that has some serious fixing — a street with power lines or a portrait is a good example. 

  1. Duplicate the background layer, click it in the Layers palette and choose Layer > Duplicate Layer. 
  2. Select the Patch tool from the Tools palette and drag over the area that you want to fix. Try to make a close selection and work in small pieces i.e. don't select large areas.
  3. On the Tool Options bar, select the Source option button. 
  4. Drag the selection to an area of the photo that’s a good match. As you do this, Adobe Ps shows a preview of the target area.
  5. Release your hand off the mouse and watch the magic; the to-be fixed area will be replaced with the area you selected, and the Ps will brightly blend blended the source area. 
  6. If you are not happy with the result, drag again from another area. Ps will try to better fix it.
  7. Next, and if the patch is too visible try to reduce the layer opacity. Somewhere around 70% works best. This works best on skin tones. 

The Patch tool is rather simple to use and the results are astonishing. I use it all the time to remove power cable and replace broken or missing window square. Try it and you will enjoy it's bright algorithm!

Just drag to a similar texture to apply the Content Aware feature. You don't have to be precise...

... Ps will reconstruct edges for you.