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photoshop backscatter removal tutorial

This Tutorial Is Removing Backscatter In Photoshop With Spot Healing Brush 

This is a Photoshop Retouching tutorial for underwater photographers looking at Removing Backscatter In Photoshop using one of the most amazing and time saving photo retouching tools available, the Spot Healing Brush. The Spot Healing Brush was first introduced in Photoshop CS2 and just the same as the two other healing tools (the standard Healing Brush and the Patch Tool), it's essentially a texture replacement tool, meaning that it tries to create a seamless repair by replacing damaged or unwanted texture from one area in an image with good texture from another area, without changing the problem area's original color or brightness values. What makes the Spot Healing Brush so amazing and fast is that it does this with almost no effort from us!

When using either the standard Healing Brush or Patch Tool for example, Photoshop needs us to tell it which area of good texture we want to use to replace the bad texture with, however the Spot Healing Brush intelligently decides all on its own meaning in most of the time from now on when you are Removing Backscatter In Photoshop the only thing we need to do is click on whether we want to retouch with the Spot Healing Brush and Photoshop repairs it instantly! Photoshop's Spot Healing Brush looks around the areas we click and chooses what it needs from the area surrounding the spot we clicked on, the Spot Healing Brush works best on little spots in photographs  just like backscatter from the your underwater photographs! Its almost too easy! Lets take a look and see how to use it to quickly and effortlessly remove backscatter from the your underwater pictures.

Working in Photoshop Even Faster With Keyboard Shortcuts

Before you begin Removing Back Scatter In Photoshop using the Spot Healing Brush, know that although this technique is a fast,  single click of a mouse, some tasks are not so quick clicking around the screen, so here are some simple keyboard shortcuts that you will use a lot to make things even faster. To zoom in on the image, hold down Ctrl+spacebar (Win) / Command+spacebar (Mac) to temporarily access the Zoom Tool and click on the spot you need to zoom in on. To zoom out, hold down Alt+spacebar (Win) / Option+spacebar (Mac) and click. To scroll around inside the image when you're zoomed in, hold down the spacebar by itself to temporarily switch to the Hand Tool, then click and drag to move the image around.

When you use the Spot Healing Brush, it is best to select a brush size that's just slightly larger than the area you're trying to fix, which means you'll usually need to change your brush size quite often as you make your way from one back scatter spot to another. The fastest way to change your brush size is with the left and right bracket keys on your keyboard. Press the left bracket key ( [ ) to make the brush smaller or the right bracket key ( ] ) to make it larger. Also, since the Spot Healing Brush chooses the new texture on its own, sometimes it makes a mistake. When it does, simply undo the step by pressing Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac), then try again.

For this Removing Backscatter In Photoshop tutorial, I'll be using the Spot Healing Brush to quickly remove some Backscatter in the underwater photograph below, but the technique is the same no matter what it is you're trying to remove or repair as long as the area is small enough for the Spot Healing Brush to be effective.

Let's Get Started Removing Backscatter In Photoshop!

Step 1: Add A New Blank Layer

Open up your underwater photo in Photoshop take a look in the Layers panel which shows one layer, the Background layer, which is our image.
When you are Removing Backscatter In Photoshop or retouching your underwater photos in general, it is best practice to get in the habit of protecting the original, to do this you will want to add a new blank layer above the Background layer. This way all the spot healing retouch work on this separate layer. Click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel:

Step 2: Rename New Layer

Photoshop will create a new layer and name it by default, Layer 1. When working with multiple layers in photoshop it really helps to double-click directly on the layer's name in the Layers panel and rename it so you know which layer is for what elements you're working on.
For example I used "spot healing". It's not uncommon when retouching images to end up with lots of layers, and giving each one a descriptive name makes it easier to keep them organized. Press Enter (Win) /Return (Mac) when you're done to accept the new name:

Step 3: Select The Spot Healing Brush

From your Tools panel in Photoshop you’ll find the heals grouped in with one and other. Select the Spot Healing Brush.
If at first glance, one of the other tools is showing in place of the Spot Healing Brush, click on the tool and hold your mouse button down for a second or two until a small fly-out menu appears, then select the Spot Healing Brush from the menu

Step 4: Select The “Sample All Layers” Option

By default, the Spot Healing Brush works only with the layer that’s currently selected in the Layers panel. That will cause us some problems if we try to use it right now since we have a blank layer selected, which means all we’d be able to do is replace nothing with different nothing.
We need to tell Photoshop to look at the image on the Background layer as well.
To do that, select the Sample All Layers option in the Options Bar along the top of the screen:

Step 5: Select “Content-Aware”

If you’re using Photoshop CS5 or later, make sure you have Content-Aware selected in the Options Bar. This feature is new in CS5 and allows the Spot Healing Brush to more intelligently choose good replacement texture for the problem area you’ve clicked on, using texture from the surrounding area. If you’re using CS4 or earlier, you won’t have Content-Aware available. In that case, you’ll want to select Proximity Match which can still give you great results:

Step 6: Click On The Problem Spots To Heal Them

Now you are read to begin Removing Back Scatter In Photoshop With the Spot Healing Brush, Sample All Layers and Content-Aware (or Proximity Match) selected, all we need to do now is click on the back scatter in the image to fix them! I’ll zoom in on an area of the back scatter so I can see the problem spots more clearly, then I’ll move my brush cursor over one of the white spots and adjust my brush size with the left and right bracket keys so it’s just slightly larger than the spot itself .
photoshop-tutorial-backscatter-zoom

I circled the spot im working on in red just so we can see it more clearly in the screenshot

6-photoshop-tutorial-backscatter-click

I clicked on the white backscatter spot with the Spot Healing Brush, and just like that, it’s gone, replaced with good texture from the surrounding area

One click is all it took to remove that backscatter spot.

As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the Spot Healing Brush can make a mistake, so if whilst you are Removing Back Scatter In Photoshop and you get this problem, just press Ctrl+Z (Win) / Command+Z (Mac) to undo it and try again. Each time you try again, you’ll get a different result. I’ll continue clearing up other spots in the area by moving my brush over them, adjusting its size with the left and right bracket keys, and clicking:
Removing the isolated spots before moving on to the larger areas is much easier.
Rather than trying to fix a large area with a super wide brush and a single click, I will usually take it spot by spot and retouch it in smaller sections first, beginning from the outside and making my way inward. Along with clicking the Spot Healing Brush, you can also click and drag in short strokes. As you drag, your brush stroke will appear black:

Dragging a short brush stroke across the area.

Release your mouse button and Photoshop attempts to heal the area with surrounding texture:

Releasing the brush to heal the area.

I’ll continue clicking and dragging over the area one small section at a time, going back over any problem spots as needed with additional clicks, and after just a couple of minutes worth of effort, another great job by the Spot Healing Brush.
removing back scatter with photoshop

Here, once again, is what the original photo looked like: The original untouched image.

photoshop-tutorial-backscatter-example-backscatter-removed

And here’s the final retouched result: The final result.

So there we are! How to clean you Backscatter from your underwater photographs using the Spot Healing Brush in Photoshop! Thanks for reading we hope it helps you, please subscribe or follow us for future tips and tricks! Happy Clicking

Andrew Jennings
Andrew Jennings
You host and creator of underwater clicks.