Digital Spot Tone - THE RUBBER STAMP TOOL

Photographers who do their own printing usually have to do a little spotting on finished prints where dust on the negative prevented light from reaching the paper. Scanners have the same problem - the glass might be dirty on a flatbed or drum or the print or film might have had dust on it when it was scanned. The most common method of touching up these flaws in Photoshop is using the Rubber Stamp Tool to clone an area next to the spot and cover (“paint”) the spot with it. This is the basic function of the Rubber Stamp Tool set in its default (Normal, Clone aligned) mode. With 100% Opacity (the default) use one of the smaller soft-edged brushes - the lower the resolution, the smaller the choice should be. I usually use the smallest two brush tips for 300 dpi scans but will use a larger tip to clone over larger areas. In order to better see what you’re doing, the Painting Cursor should be either set up at Precise or Brush Size in Preferences. Holding the Option Key down, press the mouse button over an area of the most similar density, texture and color closest to the area you want to “spot.” Then release the Option Key and click on the spot you want to remove and, presto, it disappears. The soft edge of the brush helps merge in the cloned area. Do this kind of work at a large magnification and constantly search for the best choice of areas to clone. Use the “undo” function (Command Z) and “redo” to see how effective your work is - always looking for the best approach and the most invisible results. Once you’ve used the Rubber Stamp Tool for touching up dirt and dust spots you can easily graduate to re-touching photographs. The before and after example to the right shows the removal of freckles and blemishes on the model’s face - all done with the procedures I’ve outlined above. When doing re-touching work of this nature it often helps to set the Opacity at 50% or even less for smoothing over areas that have harsh changes in density or to soften a highlight if necessary. Experiment until you find the best results. Final spotting of a scan is often done after Levels adjustment and sharpening, which will bring out more subtle flaws. Re-touching, however, is good to do before before re-sizing down - the resampling process will tend to smooth out your work as well.


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