If you’re editing portraits, you’ll likely need to know how to soften wrinkles on a person’s skin. Luckily, this is a simple process – you don’t need to use any difficult or high-level tools. In fact, you can easily remove wrinkles in Lightroom in a few simple steps using the Healing Brush.
How To Soften & Remove Wrinkles In Lightroom
Step 1: Find And Select The Healing Brush
Lightroom comes with a set of brushes that you can use to heal, clone, or change specific pixels in an image rather than the image as a whole. You can use these brushes to remove blemishes and soften skin. Each tool has a different effect, and the one that works best for removing wrinkles is the Healing Brush.
To use the Healing Brush Tool, start with the image you’d like to edit open in the Develop module.
Click the Healing Tool, which sits between the Histogram and the Basic tabs on the right.
The Healing panel will open, and you’ll see several icons at the top to choose from. These are the different brushes you can use on your image: The Content-Aware Remove Tool, the Healing Tool, and the Clone Tool. Select the middle icon, which is the Healing Brush Tool.
I’ll show you the differences between the Healing Brush Tool and another of the options, the Clone Tool, later on. They are quite similar but have one vital difference that makes the Healing Brush Tool the better choice.
Step 2: Set The Healing Brush Tool Settings
For the best results with the Healing Brush Tool, you’ll want to ensure the brush’s settings have been set correctly. The settings available for the Healing Brush Tool are Size, Feather, and Opacity.
You can set the Size of the brush based on the size of the area you’re editing – you want the brush to be able to cover the individual wrinkles and a bit of the area around them. Keep the Feather set to 100 so the brush blends in with the surrounding area.
The Opacity will automatically be set to 100%, but you can drag the toggle down to about 60-70%. With the opacity set to 100, the smoothing effect of the Healing Brush Tool can actually remove the skin’s texture, resulting in an unrealistic appearance. With a lower Opacity, the wrinkles won’t fully disappear, but they won’t appear as deep and will be much less noticeable.
Note the difference between the effect on the lower left corner below the eye, set to 100% opacity and 70% opacity.
You can see that, in the image on the right, a bit more texture is visible in the bottom left corner of the eye, while the image on the left has almost entirely smoothed the skin.
Step 3: Heal A Wrinkle In The Image
Once you’ve set the settings for the Healing Brush Tool, click and drag along one or a few of the wrinkles in the photo to heal the area.
The Healing Brush Tool will pull pixels from an area of the image near the area you brushed over and uses these pixels to “heal” the spot, covering it and smoothing it out.
You can click inside the sampled area and drag it to a new spot. You want the sampled pixels to match your desired color and texture as closely as possible. A good sample area would be a smooth part of the woman’s face, like her forehead.
Now, before we heal the rest of the image, let’s look at the difference between the Healing Brush Tool and the Clone Tool.
The Clone Tool acts similarly to the Healing Brush Tool by pulling pixels from a nearby area to cover a spot. However, rather than “blending” the pixels with those of the original spot for a natural effect, the tool directly clones the sampled pixels.
See the difference in the wrinkles covered by the Healing Brush Tool above and the Clone Tool below.
As you can see, the area covered by the Clone Tool is a direct replica of the sampled pixels rather than a natural-looking blend. This can be helpful in some cases, like if you’re trying to cover something distracting in an image.
But the tool has to be used carefully, as observant viewers may notice the cloned pixels. For the purpose of covering wrinkles and blemishes, the Healing Brush Tool is the best option.
Step 4: Remove All Wrinkles In The Image
Once you’ve practiced and are comfortable using the Healing Brush Tool, continue to brush over the wrinkles in your image until you’re satisfied with the final picture. You just need to repeat the healing and clone adjustments over all the wrinkles on your subject until you are happy with the result.
The image above shows that while the woman’s wrinkles have been considerably softened, the effect still looks like her own skin.
If you want to remove any brushed sections, simply right-click or Control + click any of them and select Delete from the list of options.
You’ve learned one of the many uses of Lightroom’s Healing Brush Tool, which you can now utilize whenever you need to fix wrinkles or blemishes in your images.