PATCH & FADE – Remove blemishes easily ~Dave Stabley

I am not certain how much editing other photographers do to their images in post, but for me, that is a major part of the job. I can’t begin to relate the number of clients (models included) who have asked that I smooth out some of the wrinkles and eliminate a blemish or two in their final edits. Because of that, I thought in this blog I would share a very simple, and easy method for you to use to correct, or mitigate age lines, bags under the eyes, blemishes, or rough skin – using Photoshop.

For those who are familiar with the power and available options in Photoshop, you will quickly recognize this is not the only way to address these problems. It is just “another” way that you can add to your skill set, in case the way you happen to try, doesn’t work for some reason.


Open your headshot in Photoshop, then duplicate the Background layer using CTRL+J on the PC, or CMD + J on a Mac. (This step isn’t absolutely necessary, but I prefer to work on a new layer, just in case I totally go off course, and need to start over again.)


Select the PATCH TOOL (it’s located under the Spot Healing Brush Tool).

Now using the Patch Tool, select an area that needs some help, then Click & Drag that area to another area that contains a similar skin tone, but without a similar problem. For instance, if it is a blemish we are trying to eliminate, circle the blemish with the Patch Tool, then drag the selected area to an area of clear skin and release the mouse. Try to drag it to an area with similar skin texture – the texture around the cheeks is different from the skin around the forehead which is different from the skin around the nose. Try for a close match.

In some cases, this may be all you need to do…the blend may be exactly what you were looking for. However, there are times when the Patch Tool can leave a distinct edge around where you made the selection, or the blend just isn’t perfect. In cases like that, move on to STEP 3.



After you remove the selection (CTRL+D or CMD+D), or Hide it (CTRL+H or CMD+H), if the Patch Tool has left a noticeable edge around the selected area, and BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE, go to EDIT on the top menu and slide down to FADE (since you just used the Patch Tool, it will say FADE PATCH TOOL). The shortcut for this is CTRL+Shift+F or CMD+Shift+F. This will bring up a window that will allow you to adjust the transparency of the patch you just made. Move the slider until the patch matches or blends with the skin below it. In my experience, 50-60% usually works fairly well.

If you didn’t get it all corrected perfectly on the first try, don’t worry, you can do it again and again until it looks the way you want it.

This technique is ideal for fixing blemishes, rough skin, wrinkles or bags under the eyes. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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