Fixing Blemishes in Lightroom

When you have an image which needs some spot fixing before printing you can often do the work in Lightroom and avoid the necessity of a round trip to Photoshop. Lightroom has both a Clone and a Heal tool available for fixing blemishes and removing problems such as spots caused by dust on your camera’s sensor.

To see how to use these tools in Lightroom, start by selecting an image to fix and select the Lightroom Develop module.

Step 1

Spot Step 1

Spot Step 1

Locate the Spot Removal tool which is situated below the Histogram and to the immediate right of the Crop tool. You can also select it by pressing its shortcut key N.

For the brush options, you have the choice of Clone or Heal so select the option to use.

Clone works similarly to the Clone Stamp in Photoshop where you select the portion of the image to fix and then the portion to replace it with. Apart from choosing the Size of the brush and the Opacity Lightroom simply replaces one area of the image with another without making an attempt to blend the fix.

If you choose Heal then Lightroom samples the area you’re trying to fix and attempts to blend in the replacement area so the fix is less apparent.

Step 2

Spot Step 2

Spot Step 2

Select Clone or Heal and then adjust the size using the slider or the square brackets [ and ]. Your brush size needs to be large enough to cover the area to fix.

You can click on the area to fix and leave Lightroom to choose the source image data to fix it with or click on the part of the image to fix and continue to hold the left mouse button as you drag to find an area to use to for the fix. You will see a preview of how the fix will look to help you determine a good part of the image to use. Only let go the mouse button when you have your selection in place.

When you have applied the fix you will see two circles on your image – they appear when you hold the Spot Removal Tool over the image. The circle with the thickest edge is the selected area and the circle with the + symbol in it defines the area you are fixing.

Spot Drag

Spot Drag

If you did not get the fix exactly right you can click inside either of the circles and drag the selected circle to a different position.

Spot Resize

Spot Resize

You can also select a circle and then position your mouse over the edge till it turns into a double headed arrow and then drag to resize it.

You can change a fix applied using the Heal option to a Clone fix (or vice versa). To do this, select either of the two circular marker and click Heal or Clone in the Develop tools panel to change the fix type. This allows you to experiment to find which gives the better results.

In our example, Heal worked well on the lion’s nose in areas which were all hair and Clone worked along the top edge of the nose where the fix markers spanned part of the nose and part of the background behind.

To see the image without the circular markers, press H to hide them. Press H again to display them.

To see the Before/After results reflecting just the effect of applying the Spot Removal Tool, click the On/Off switch in the Spot Removal tool area of the Develop panel. This works better than the backslash key (\) which toggles on/off all the fixes you have made to the image and not just the most recent one.

Spot Copy

Spot Copy

If you have problems such as sensor dust that appear in the same position in a series of images, you’ll appreciate the ability to copy the Spot Removal tool fix from one image to others. Right-click the fixed image, choose Settings > Copy Settings and from the Copy Settings dialog enable the Spot Removal checkbox disabling all other options that you do not want to copy. Click Copy to copy the effect and then paste it onto the other images which also suffer the same problem. While this may not be an ideal fix for all of them, it will give you head start on fixing most of them.


Helen Bradley

I am an expatriate Australian lifestyle writer, videographer and photographer. I write tutorials and produce videos on Photoshop, Lightroom and Illustrator as well as photography, office computer applications and DIY crafts. I have written for most of the big names in consumer tech including PC World, PC […]

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