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Fix blemishes and wrinkles in Lightroom

During a cleansing exercise I went through last week over my photo library I found out the huge size of Photoshop files there and I had to convert all to 8-bit and flatten the layers in order to gain some of the space on my hard disk. Most of those Photoshop files were portrait photos where I have created just for the sake of removing blemishes and reducing wrinkles using the Spot Healing Brush Tool.

Being a Lightroom enthusiast I have neglected the power of the "Spot Removal Tool" in Lr and went directly to Ps whenever I had to work on a portrait. I am writing this blog to show the effectiveness of this tool in Lr.  

 While the Spot Removal Tool continues to be improved with each Lightroom release, it came a long way since version 4 and it now can handle most of the healing and cloning needs. 

  • The clone mode is best used for hiding unwanted objects by covering them with a another area in the image. This mode is very similar to the Clone Stamp Tool in Ps.
  • The heal mode is used for fixing blemishes, scratches, etc., by blends the area with pixels around it. Similar to Content Aware capability in Ps.

So, the the results between both clone and heal modes differ and you have to experiment with both depending on what you are trying to achieve in your image. How to use the Spot Removal Tool is 100% similar in both modes:

  1. Select the spot removal icon (top right) from the Develop Module or just hit the "Q" key. You will be presented with a target circle-like pointer with another outer circle representing the feathering size.
  2. Select by clicking the target area with your mouse (after clicking the spot removal icon).
  3. Lightroom will try to locate an area based on it's algorithm (this part needs improvement a lot compared to Ps) but it rarely selects the right pixels. I usually hit the Command (Mac) / Control (PC) before clicking on the target area and while at it move the mouse over to the nearest pixels and release it when satisfied with the source area.
  4. If you don't like the area chosen, you can click the source circle and move it to another area that works better.

In version 5 onward of Lr, the spot removal tool got improved to select not just a circular area but now you can paint over literally a target area by clicking and dragging your mouse.

If you want the tool blend in more, try reducing it's opacity. This is specifically useful for wrinkles reduction.

More difficult cloning still need however Photoshop, but while hoping the next release of Lightroom will mimic this tool exactly like the Spot Healing Brush I will continue on using it instead of creating un-necessary Photoshop files


Gaby Awad is offering a complete Adobe Lightroom course for beginners and professional alike. You can master the capabilities of Lightroom by subscribing to this course.