MORE Retouching Tools Adobe Photoshop

Hi, and welcome to this tutorial!  Here we will be discussing more of the retouching tools within Adobe Photoshop.  There are eleven tools I would like to discuss today that will complete the Tools Panel Retouching Tools.  Remember to take your time as you go through the tools so you can use them to the best!


Clone Stamp

Using the Clone Stamp tool is used to duplicate one area of your image and copy it to another area.  This tool is accessed by pressing the S key.  Scroll through the two options by hitting Shift + S and that will take you from Clone Stamp to the Pattern Stamp.  By understanding this tool’s abilities you can do some pretty cool stuff with it, like, transposing one object from one layer to another, rotating or changing the shape of an object while cloning it, and creating patterns from the objects you are transposing.

We want to work nondestructively.  So, when you first open your image, take your cursor to the Layers panel and right click the Background layer.  Select Duplicate Image.  You can change the name of your new layer if you want, which will keep things much more organized.  Now, you’re on your way to working nondestructively!

Select your brush size using the Brush Preset Picker. Make sure that you have checked the Aligned option in the Options Bar.  This gives you the ability to select multiple brush strokes from the same sample source.

Hold down the Alt key and select the area you want to clone.  This is the starting point for the area that you are cloning.  Now click the new area and you are stamping that copied image onto the new spot in your image.

At the top of your screen go to the windows panel and make sure that the Clone Source Panel is selected and open.  You will notice that at the top of the Clone Source Panel there are five icons.  You can select up to five samples for your clone source.

Here’s a great video to show some fun things you can do with the Clone Stamp Tool:

Pattern Stamp

Working with the pattern stamp is a fun tool to use to make interesting patterns.  You can give some fun textures and backgrounds to you images as well.

In the Options toolbar you will find some options to use with your stamp.  There are the Mode, Opacity, Flow, Aligned and Impressionist.  There is also a pattern picker that’s from a dropdown tab at the top.  It has a few built in patterns for you to choose from.

With the Mode option you have different blending modes that are fun to play with to see what suits your needs and vision.  Play with the modes and you’ll start to learn what each one does and works.  As you get familiar with each mode you will have a more educated understanding of which ones you want to use for what project you are working on.

Opacity and Flow each have a little pen-like icon to the right of them.  If you click on the Opacity pen icon it will indicate that the pressure will always be used.  Turning it off will indicate that the brush preset will control your opacity.  Clicking the icon to the right of the Flow indicates that an airbrush effect will be used and built up as you paint.

Keeping the Aligned checked will keep your pattern aligned with the original even if you pick your pen or mouse up and move around your canvas.  If you uncheck it, on the other hand, it will drop the pattern alignment and start a new pattern each time you pick your pen up, while it still continues to paint with the pattern you selected.

Checking the Impressionist on will give a very blurry look to your pattern.

This tool is also selected by the S key and the Shift + S key as you scroll through the two tools.

The video below shows a very good illustration of how to use the pattern tool.



Eraser Tool

These tools are selected with the E key or Shift + E to scroll through them.

The eraser tool is just that…. and eraser.  In the options bar you are able to change the opacity and flow just like in most of the tools in the Tool Bar.  You are able to change the Mode from using a Brush, Pencil or a Block.

When using the Smoothing selection, it will try to smooth it out more as you go.  The higher the number, the slower your cursor is going to move as the algorithm is trying to perfect the smoothness.

Background Eraser Tool

This is a really great tool to take away the parts of your image you are not wanting to keep, such as a background.  It works well for working with very fine, detailed images such as hair.

So, first you’re going to want to open up your image.  It will show it as your background in the Layers panel.  It will show a little padlock beside it indicating that that image is locked.  In the Layers panel go to the bottom right of that and you will see a little garbage can and to the right of that a square with the bottom left corner flipped up.  Selecting that will give you a new layer to your Layers panel.

Move the new layer underneath your background layer.  You may have to click on the padlock to the left of the layer to unlock it first.

Now, to make things easier, go ahead and fill your new background layer with a color.

Switch back to your image that you need to take the background away and select your Background Eraser Tool.

In the Options Panel you have three different sampling icons.  If you have a fairly detailed background image, use the first icon that gives you to ability to select multiple samples.  If you have a plain, single color background, you’ll just need to use the single sampler icon.  Now you can sample the colors that you want to delete.

The Tolerance Option is something you may have to play around with until you get the desired effect.  This gives you the ability to, as you get closer to the image that you are wanting to keep, it will either tolerate some of those colors and take them away as you erase, or it will not tolerate them and it will keep them untouched.

And then you’ve got the Protect Foreground Color to either check on or off.  You can keep that clicked off so that you can erase your background.

Magic Eraser

The Magic Eraser tool gives you a quick way to get rid of parts of an image as well with a much quicker way of doing it. This will not be used with a brush.  Click on a part of the image that you want erased and it will automatically sample colors from the section that you clicked on, erasing everything within the limits you entered up above in the Options Bar.

In the Options Bar above you will see some familiar tools up there that work along with the Magic Eraser Tool.  Along with Opacity and Sample All Layers, you will see Tolerance, Anti-Alias, and Contiguous.  These are also used with a few other tools.

Opacity gives you the option of how opaque you want your tool to be.

You can check on Sample All Layers if you have multiple layers that you are wanting to erase.

Tolerance is used to select close colors to your selection or no other colors to your selection, if you have it turned all the way down.

Anti-Alias is used to smooth your selections.  If you don’t want to smooth that out go ahead and uncheck it.

And finally the Contiguous selection.  If you are wanting only the colors that are connected to each other and work with that, than check the Contiguous button.  But if you want to select all the pixels that contain that or close colors to your selection, no matter where it is at in your image, then uncheck it.

Blur Tools

Note:  These next three tools do not have a hot key as do the other ones.

Blur Tool

The blur tool is used to give a softened look to parts of images.  In the options panel you have the choices of Mode, Strength and Sample All Layers.

Again with the Mode option you are able to play around with different blending effects for your tool.

The Strength will determine the strength of the softness you want to give to your image.

And then you’ve got the option to sample from all of the layers as you paint.

This is something that is easier to use if you are just wanting to give some softness to a smaller portion of your image.  If you are wanting to give larger parts or the whole thing an effect of bluriness or softness it’s easier to use the blur filter, which we will go into in a later discussion.  But this one is great if you are going to be picking and choosing smaller portions of your image to soften.

Sharpen Tool

In the complete opposit direction as the blur tool, we have the Sharpen Tool.  This will give your images or portions of your image a sharpness which you can manipulate the Mode and Strength of your tool as you work.  This is great to use for finer or smaller detail work.

There is also a Sharpen Filter which we will get into the uses of later.

Smudge Tool

This is kind of a fun little tool to use.  You still get the options of Mode and Strength and Sample All Layers.  But this one also has the option of the effect of Finger Painting.

Just like if you were taking a drawing and smudging or smearing some of the pencil on the paper to blend, the smudge tool smears and blends.

Finger Painting is not going to give a smearing or blending effect if you keep that checked.

Dodge, Burn and Smudge

These tools are activated by pressing the O key or Shift + O to scroll through the three tools.

Dodge Tool

The Dodge Tool is used to brighten an area.  As you brush your cursor around the image it’s going to brighten your image in those places. You can change the size of your brush as well as the shape of your brush.  You’ve got some options to use up in the Options Panel for this.  The Range, Exposure and Protect Tones.

With the Range option you’re given the option of Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights.  So it’s giving you the option to brighten the shadows, midtones or highlights.  If you’ve got the Shadows selected, you will be brightening your shadows as you paint across them, but won’t do anything or much to your highlights or midtones as you paint across those.  Same goes for if you have Midtones selected, you will see that as you paint across the midtones in your image, the midtones will brighten.  And the same for the highlights if you have Highlights selected.

The Exposure is the strength at which you want your highlights to show.

Keeping the Protect Tones checked will protect the colors and minimize the clipping as you paint across your image.  So, say, if you want to just brighten them, keeping this checked will help will actually brightening these colors to the strength that you want them brightened.  If you uncheck it, it won’t protect your tones and it will whiten and wash out, instead of brighten.

Burn Tool

The Burn Tool is much like the Dodge tool except that instead of brightening an image or parts of an image you will be darkening an image.  You get the same options in the Options Bar as the Dodge Tool, it will all just work in the opposite direction.

I’ve included a couple of great videos that illustrate two techniques of using these tools.

Sponge Tool

Much like the previous two tools the sponge tool is going to modify the saturation effects locally.   The two modes that you have are Saturation and Desaturation.  Choosing Saturation will increase the color saturation to your image and the Desaturation will decrease the color, turning it black and white.  So if you want more vibrance to your image use Saturation.  You want less color in parts of your image, use Desaturation.

But, if you want to convert the entire image to Black and White use the fill or adjustment layer down at the bottom of your Layers panel.  It looks like a circle cut in half so the top diagonal half is dark and the bottom diagonal is white.  That gives you a black and white option.

I’ve included a quick tutorial below from Tutvids to illustrate how this tool works.

The End of the Retouching Tools…..for now….

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing these tools with you and what their capabilities are to retouch your images.

I hope you have been able to learn things along with me as we have explored the beginnings of the wonderful world of digital painting!

Please feel free to contact me if you’ve got any questions!  I  would love to answer them 🙂

Have fun and have a wonderfully creative day!


  1. This was a very interesting tutorial! I’m an amateur photographer and I mostly do my editing in Lightroom. Last week during a shoot, I had an issue with my 50mm prime lens and I had to switch over to my regular zoom lens. With this lens I could not create the nice background blur, so I’ve tried your tutorial today to get the background blurry of a portrait photo. It worked great!

    • Oh, I’m so glad that it worked out for you!  That’s wonderful!  Lightroom is great too and I really love it!  But, it’s so nice to have Photoshop as well 🙂

      Thank you so much for visiting!!

  2. I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years, and a huge part of my life has been using Photoshop. It’s simple the best. I have used all these tools except the smudge tool. You’ve inspired me to start using it. Thanks for this excellent tutorial. I’m looking forward to watching the videos and I love Tutvids.

    • That’s awesome! I love Photoshop! I’ve been able to get so many things done through it. Don’t know what I would do without it 🙂
      Right? I love the way Tutvids gives his tutorials. He makes things so understandable and easy!
      Thank you so much for visiting!! 🙂

  3. I would love to learn how to use photoshop properly and thanks to your article I think even I can get the hang of it! 

    I used to have photoshop but I gave up on it as I just didn’t understand it and just felt lost and confused.

    It’s nice to read a post that explains it all so easily and simply and with the videos it aids the instructions superbly, its ideal for visual learners like myself.

    How long did it take you to master the controls in photoshop? 

    I particularly liked the smudge tool, I never used it but as you say it seems fun to use. 

    I’ve learnt a lot from your post and have bookmarked it for when I get photoshop again.

    Thankyou for sharing

    • Oh, that’s wonderful!  I’m so glad I could help you 🙂

      Actually, I’m still not a master.  It seems like there’s always something new to learn every day.  And it’s fun to peruse tutorial videos to see what new and ingenious way someone else has achieved using the tools.  There are things that work for me, but it’s always fun to learn new things too.  

      I think it took me a few short years to learn, but that was also because I was working and raising three kids.  So, sometimes my attention span was cut a little short… not on purpose, lol.

      But, as I’ve been able to give it my complete focus, the learning does go a lot faster and smoother.  And pretty soon, you’re doing things in the program you never thought you would be able to achieve.  And it happens sooner rather than later. 🙂

      Thank you so much for visiting!  🙂

  4. Thank you very much for this photo shop training, wonderful stuff you can do with this program. I learned some new awesome tricks to do with images from the videos too. I love to play around with images, and I want to make them just a little different than the average image. I have enjoyed your lessons and the photo shop videos very much, thank you!


    • You’re welcome and thank you 🙂

      It is so much fun to play with and discover the great images that can be created!

      Have fun with it and thank you for visiting 🙂

  5. Hello Kelly,

    This is a great tutorial. I usually use photoshop for web designing but it has far more capabilities than that. As you have showed in this tutorial, photoshop can easily create amazing effects in photos.

    Although it is not my speciality, I became curious to use these tools with some of my old photos and play with them. The magic eraser makes it easy to change the background and the the dodge and burn tool in the last video creates amazing effect on the photo. Can’t wait to test them.



    • Thank you, I really appreciate that.

      It’s great learning these new tools!   I’m so glad that you’re trying them out on some of your photos 🙂

      Let me know how they turn out.  And if you have any questions let me know 🙂

      Thank you so much!

  6. Cool post! I like visual software like this (I use GIMP). A lot of the features are common to both programmes (like clone for example). So even though I have never used Photoshop I think I at least have some idea about what you are talking about.

    I think these programmes are really cool, especially once you get some descent skill under you belt. I like the smudge tool to sort of hide the mistakes a little bit, probably not right but I never said I was good! I like watching people who know how to use the software well, its fantastic to learn from someone who really knows their stuff and is willing to how you.

    • Thank you!  Gimp is a good program as well.  You’re right, a lot of the programs have similar functions to them.  A few years ago, you couldn’t switch very well from one program to another without having to relearn nearly everything.  Now, programs are very compatible with each other and it’s much easier to switch from one to another.  

      Thank you 🙂

  7. Wow, this is a great share! Adobe Photoshop is amazing. I had no idea that there were so many features to this software. I am glad you shared this with your site visitors as I think that anyone with online aspirations or bloggers in particular could make use of this. After all it is the visuals in an article that can truly bring it to life. Thanks again, Kenny 

    • Thank you so much!  I love Photoshop.  It’s so versatile and you can do so much with it 🙂

      You’re right, it can definitely be used for bringing visuals to any article!

      Thank you so much for visiting 🙂

  8. Hello! Do you know if they have a mobile app for this? I don’t mind going back and forth from my phone to a computer but it can be a problem sometimes. Also, does this program cost? I wouldn’t mind paying much for a photoshop that gives good results. There is a lot of tools that come with the program that I’ve never seen before including the dodge, burn, & smudge. I’ll have to try to see if I can find this program and use these! Rachel

    • Yes, I use it a little but I prefer the computer one.  I have more control over what I’m doing.  The mobile one doesn’t have all of the tools, though it does still have quite a few and it is fun to use. 

      Photoshop does cost.  If you are a student you can get a discounted price for a monthly payment.  If you would rather use a one-time purchase, there is Adobe Photoshop Elements. 

      Thank you so much for visiting! 

  9. Hi

    This is a fantastic set of tutorials.

    I was particularly interested in the information about the pattern stamp and how to make sure it does not get re-aligned.

    Can you keep it aligned but change the colours?  I was wondering about having different coloured bubbles in the video tutorials.

    I also liked the example of the photo being used as a pattern stamp and was very impressed by the effective that gave.

    I shall return!

    Thank you!

    • That’s a really great question!  Sadly, no you can’t, not directly…but that doesn’t mean that you can’t cheat to make it work! 🙂

      If you use different layers this will help you to change the color.  Put the pattern stamp on its own layer.  Add an adjustment filter to that layer – the best one to use is down in the layers panel – the little icon that looks like a circle cut in half with one side dark and the other colored in white. Click on that and then use the black and white.  You can link that adjustment layer to your pattern layer by scrolling over the adjustment layer, pressing Alt and, when you get the little down arrow icon, left click it. 

      Create another layer and fill it with the color you want with the fill bucket tool.

      Then you can adjust the opacity slider for your color layer at the top of the layers panel to what you want.  You can also adjust the modes that are to the left of the opacity slider.

      That might get you started with changing the colors of the patterns.  If you get stuck or have any other questions, let me know.  I’d be happy to help 🙂

  10. Great article!

    I’ve been using Photoshop for a long time now, have been learning this on school for years, and they show you great things there, however, the things you mentioned, like the Magic Eraser, no way you could learn it there.

    They have a program and they have to follow that strictly, I was the “rebelious one”, who wanted to try everything what Photoshop had, but they didn’t like it.

    Now, the tools you brought in the post are very amazing ones, they can give that little trick into that picture you’re making, and retouching things are in fact one of the most important features of it, which is being forgotten by many people, who only thinks about the layers.

    Thanks for sharing this, I’m confident many people who are using Photoshop don’t know even the half of the features, but this post is a very good start for those!

    • Wow!  Thank you so much!  Ya know, I took classes as well for Photoshop and didn’t learn most of this and have had to learn it on my own as well.  They’re such fun tools to use!  There’s so many great things you can do with them 🙂

      You’re welcome and thank you so much!

  11. I’m not a photographer, but your post has made me interested in looking further into it. My daughter is very artistic, and I think she would love to get started in photography. What would you consider to be the minimum age limit for a kid wishing to use the retouching tools? My daughter’s 9, and I think that she would be really excited to be able to take photos and make all sorts of retouches to them. Great post!  

    • Thank you!  My youngest is 9 as well and he loves coding and art, and he’s in an online coding program and uses computer art programs.  I think 9 is a perfect age to start them out with these things.  But then again, if they show interest in it, whatever the age, get them started 🙂  Take it on an individual basis.  If you feel she’s ready for things like that and she learns well, I would totally get her into it 🙂

      Best wishes and have fun with it 🙂

  12. I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years, and a huge part of my life has been using Photoshop. It’s simple the best. I have used all these tools except the smudge tool. You’ve inspired me to start using it. Thanks for this excellent tutorial. I’m looking forward to watching the videos and I love Tutvids.

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