2007 SLP Curriculum Guide #12 Retouch Tools
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Up to this point in the guides we have worked with PSP features that effect or enhance the whole photograph. However, there may well be times when we want to fix or change or enhance only portions of a photograph. Hence, the Retouch Tools are those tools that will allow us to accomplish this task.

If you have not reviewed the use of the Retouch Tools in the 2006 SLP Curriculum, please do so to obtain an understanding of how they work.

  1. Introduction to the use of the Retouch Tools, what they are and do.
  2. Using the Clone Brush to remove (or sometimes add) portions of the photograph in a seamless fashion.
  3. An Example and some Hints and Tips for using the Retouch Tools.
  4. Changing Colors in a photograph.
  5. Removing Scratches and Objects in a photograph.


Often when using any one of these tools, consider having fairly low values for 'Hardness' (I use between 25 and 50) and 'Opacity' (between 50 and 80). I also often will check the 'Continuous' box in order not to build up the effect, at least initially. And, when I have a desired effect for one tool, I will 'Duplicate' that layer and work the next tool on this new layer. Also, I will use 'Rename' to keep a brief record of what I am doing so I can return to earlier steps.

There is no secret to learning to use these tools. It is often a matter of using them, experimenting with them, trying out different values, and just exploring. With practice one will develop an eye for being able to create, fix, enhance portions of a photograph.


In this example, I will be using most of the Retouch tools to illustrate their effect upon a photograph. I encourage you to explore and experiment with the tools and their values. The presentation of the steps taken will only be a brief review. Also, keep in mind it takes a bit of time to accomplish a finished result.

My ultimate objective is to use various retouch tools and create a very unique and interesting photograph. This photograph was take by my brother.
CLONE: As a result of the end result, particularly enhancing branches, I wanted to remove just a couple of the flowers below the branch. Look carefully and you will see the result of using the clone tool. Also, I click rather than drag to make sure the result is seamless.
BURN & SHARPEN: This retouch is subtle. I wanted to make some branches darker (burn) and more prominent (sharpen) so they would tend to stick out more. Look at the upper right corner branches.
SATURATION UP/DOWN: The Saturation up/down tool will either saturate to make color more rich or desaturate to make color less vivid or ultimately greyscaled. There are easier ways to make a total photograph unsaturated but wanting to keep areas as indicated above with their current colors, I chose to desaturate the rest of the photograph. After using a small brush size around the colored areas (flower and branches) I then used a large brush size to desaturate the rest of the photograph. One could keep the photograph as is but I have additional plans.
CHANGE TO TARGET & HUE: In order to make the next set of changes, I first created selections around the flower, the branches and flower and just the leaves. Then without the selections I used Change to Target to color the inner buds of other flowers, then Saturation Up to color the main colored flower's bud more rich and used the Sharpen Tool to sharpen those buds. Finally, using the selection around the flower I changed its pink color to purple color using the Hue tool.
SMUDGE & PUSH: Next, I used my selection around the branches and flower and inverted it so I could use the Smudge Brush first to smudge the greyscaled areas. I then used Adjust || Blur || Radial Blur || Zoom to get the background design I wanted. The Push Tool normally is used to push in or move small areas of the original to perhaps clean up an area or smooth over edges. However if one sets the steps to a relatively high value and then from the first capture area (the flower in my case) and dragging to another area, the original captured area will be reproduced. Thus, using this technique I added three additional flowers to my picture.
FINAL TOUCHES: I finished off the photograph is a frame-border created by first using Selections || Select all, then Selections || Modify || Select Selection Borders, flood filled it with White, then used Effects || Distortion Effects || Displacement Maps and found a pattern that created a border I liked. I finished up the board (on a separate layer) using Effects || Texture Effects || Emboss and then filled that layer with a texture.


Generally one uses the retouch tools to just retouch areas of a photograph that they want enhanced such as to darken or burn an area, lighten or dodge, maybe smudge or push an area, change the color by saturation or hue or change to target. However, one can also create an artful photograph from any photograph by learning how each of these retouch tools work.

The process of retouching or creating an artful photograph using the retouch tools takes time. My illustration is roughly about an eight hour project over several days of experimenting and trying different tools out on the original photograph.

Also, keep in mind that you will want to use many layers by finding a product from a tool you like and then duplicating it so you can move on to another tool or trial. Working with the retouch tools can be a lot of fun and often will allow one to become very creative in their work.


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • Name or Screen Name.
    • Web Site URL.
    • Version of PSP using.
    • List of Tutorials completed.
  2. Post your Work:
    • List what you did, feature, options used, values.
    • Indicate steps taken and results.
    • Indicate things you found interesting, worthwhile and any other comments.
  3. Comment on any particular techniques you used or discovered, any particular results you found perhaps by accident and any ideas you have for creating a particular result.
  4. Post any questions and comments in the SLP Forum.

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