remove scars using photoshop

How to Remove Scars Using Photoshop

Posted on Posted in Graphic Design Tutorials

Scars and blemishes are one of the common issues with human skin. I am not calling them problem because it is so common among us and we always learn to accept them. But in Photography the always appears as an issue. If the Photo is taken with a good quality lens, it will reveal a lot about the scar and obviously it will not be something comfortable for either the model or the Photographer. The presence of a scar or blemish might destroy the beauty of a good photograph. So in most cases Photographers will remove scars using Photoshop. So it is important to know how to retouch scars.


Remove scars using Photoshop – Total Removing may not be the only solution!

Scars are real parts of our life. People who have scars will gradually learn to live with it. So every one might not want to remove it fully. Consider a person who has a visible scar on his hand and people around him/her are well aware of it. Then the total removal of the scar may appear unnatural to people’s eyes. But the person with the scar may want to make the scar a bit lighter or less noticeable. In that case, without removing it, we have to deal with how to minimize the scar effect. Beside how to remove scars, this article will show you how to minimize the appearance of a scar.


In this article we will discuss:

  • How we can change the lightness or darkness of the scar area. Some scars will have darker areas around it. We will show how to minimize that and how to fix the extra white parts of a scar.
  • We will talk about how to change and correct the red colors of the scar areas.
  • Finally we will show how to remove scars using Photoshop.
  • And there will be a video tutorial with detail examples on both reducing scar effects and how to remove scars using Photoshop. That will be at the end of this post.


So lets get to work!


Remove scars using Photoshop Step 1 – Removing Dark areas around the scar

Scars usually will have lighter part in the centre and a darker part that is surrounding it. Some scars may have red areas too. We should start by removing the dark surrounding parts first.

If we take a close look at our photo, we will realize that there is a dark boundary around this scar too. To fix these dark areas first we need to create Black & White adjustment layer. From the Photoshop menu, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black and white. A window will appear. Just press Ok on that.

Now the image has become Black & White and we can see the dark areas clearly. First we need to lighten up the darker parts.


Lighten up the image

To lighten up the blackish areas, we need to create a Curves Adjustment Layer. In the same way as before, go to Layers > New Adjustment layer and select Curves. A curves adjustment layer will be created. Press Ok on the dialogue box. Now you need to increase the light of the photo by using the curves.


Make the layer invisible

You will see that the layer mask of this curve adjustment layer is white. That means the layer is visible. We need to make this invisible. So click on the layer mask and from Photoshop menu, go to Edit > Fill. Select Black in the Contents section and press ok.  It will paint the layer mask in to black. That means the layer will be invisible now.


(If you want to know more about layer mask, check our post on how to work with a layer mask).


Using Brush tool

Now select the Brush tool from the tools section. You need to use a large brush with soft age for this task. Also the Flow must be lowered to 20%. This will help us to work gradually. Now select the foreground color to white and start using the brush tool to pain over the blackish scar area.

remove scars using photoshop
Using soft edge large brush

We know that in layer masks, white color will make anything visible and black color will make anything invisible. So we are basically painting this part of the layer white to make it visible. Because we will do some editing later and we do not want the other parts to be affected.

Now go to the layers palette and double click on the thumbnail icon of the layer mask (half-filled circle beside layer mask). It will bring up the curves window. Now adjust the curves to make the image a bit lighter.

remove scars using photoshop
Using Curves to make the scars lighter

We see that only the scar area is getting affected by the curve. That’s what we wanted. Now adjust the curves till it becomes blended with other areas as much as possible. Once we finish we will see there is no more dark area around the scar.


Remove scars using Photoshop Step 2 – Reducing the White effect

After removing the dark parts, we still have to deal with the whiter parts of the scar. We need to reduce it. For this again we need to create a curves adjustment layer like before (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Curves). Now we will use curve to make the image a bit darker then it is.  After making it dark, click on the layer mask and go to Edit > Fill and select Black. It will fill the layer mask with Black (invisible).

Now select a small size brush and use the Brush tool to paint on the white scar areas. The brush size needs to be small because it needs to match the size of the white scar. Our goal is to darken the extra white areas. This method is known as dodging and burning.

Keep using the brush tool through out all of the white areas of the scar. Gradually it will lose the extra white color and once you are done, you will see the effect of the scar has been considerably reduced.

This is the basic methods of dealing with the extra light and dark areas of a scar. So far we have reduced the presence of the scar and it is looking a lot minimized. Some cars may have some red color. If you are dealing with a scar which has a red part too, then read the next section.



Remove scars using Photoshop Step 3 – Fixing the Red areas of a scar

Now I will show you how to work with the red parts of a scar. To fix the red areas of the scar, we need to target or select the red colors. Then we will edit it so it matches the rest of the skin. For this we will use a Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer. Lets go and create one from Layers > New Adjustment Layer > Hue/Saturation.  Press Ok on the window. The specialty of Hue / Saturation layer is, it is able to target specific colors and it can change those colors. In this case we will try to change the red color.

Go to the Hue/Saturation Property. Under the Preset option you will see Master is selected by default. Click on it and change it to Red. Now this will enable targeting the Red colors. Now use the Eye Dropper tool to select the particular red we want to edit. Select the eye dropper tool and click on the red part of the scar. This will select the red. But along with it will also select the skin around it due to feathering. You can increase the Hue, Saturation and lightness to maximum only to see which areas are effected. It will be the whole image.

Now if we start working with the Hue/Saturation layer then it will affect the colors of the other parts of the body. But that is not our intention. We only need to change the scar area. So we have to narrow down the focus.

remove scars using photoshop
Narrowing down the focus

To do this we will have to go to the Hue/Saturation adjusting window. Here at the bottom part there is an option to adjust the selection. It is right under the lightness bar. I have marked this red in my screenshot. From this option we can control which parts we want to color correct. It will narrow down the focus so you can work on the selected area.

Once the adjustment is done then we can start editing the red color and make it more close to the skin color. Check out for more details in the video. Once you are done with this, you can use the Hue, Saturation and Lightness options to remove the red effect from the scar tissue. Adjust the hue to around 5-10, saturation to some where around 7-10 and increase the lightness (around 25-28). This will make the red color gone.


Step 4 – Remove scars using Photoshop – Retouching off the scars

So far we have discussed about how to reduce the dark and light parts. We have also showed how we can get rid of the red colors of the scar. Now we will show how to remove the scar completely.

Removing scar is rather easy than minimizing it. It is a kind of retouching and in can be done in many ways. We also must be careful to keep the skin texture usual.  The first tool I will talk about the Healing Brush tool.


Remove scars using Photoshop: using Photoshop Healing brush tool

Photoshop Healing brush tool is a great tool for Photoshop retouching. It allows us to sample the texture of a particular area. Then we can apply texture wherever we want. It will allow you to use the color of the part where you will use the tool. It will also allow us to blend the applied texture with the existing one. We can find it within the Brush tool menu, right under Spot healing Brush tool. Once you select the tool, you will see several options will appear at the top part, just underneath of Photoshop menu. Make sure that you set the Sample option to Current Layer and bellow.

remove scars using photoshop
Using Healing Brush Tool

Now press and hold Alt/Option key and that will allow us to sample from a particular area. Release Alt/Option and start using the brush tool in the affected area. It will cover the scar area with texture that we have sampled. After finishing make sure you zoom out and check everything is looking perfect.


Remove scars using Photoshop:  using Photoshop Clone Stump tool

Another great tool is the Photoshop clone stump tool. It works almost in the same way as the Healing brush tool. But the difference is, clone stump tool will not blend. Rather it will sample the color and simply apply it on the area where the tool is used as if a paint work is done.

Now select the clone stump tool by pressing S on the keyboard. Press and hold Alt/Option key and sample from your desired area. Then use the tool to cover up the scar. Keep using until the scar is fully dissolved. Do not hesitate to take samples several times because it is really hard to match the skin texture. So take your time and proceed slowly.

remove scars using photoshop
Using Photoshop Clone Stump Tool

In most of cases healing brush will do a pretty good job. But there are places with lots of textures. In those areas, clone stump tool will come handy. We always recommend starting with the healing brush. If it doesn’t work up to your expectation then you can use the clone stump tool.

So these are the ways in which we can deal with scars or spots with the help of Photoshop. Either we will lighten it and reduce its appearance, or we will eliminate it completely. Let us recap the steps again:

To reduce the effect of the scar:

  • Most scars will have a lighter and a darker part. We should start by removing the dark part. We can do it by using curves adjustment layer.
  • Scars will also have a whiter and lighter part. To reduce the appearance of the whiter part, we need to make it darker so it matches the skin tone. We can do it by using the curves adjustment layer.
  • Some scar might have red color too. We can reduce the red colors by using Hue/Saturation Adjustment layer.


To remove the scar effect completely

Finally if you want to remove scars using Photoshop then we can do that with couple of tools. These are Healing Brush tool and Clone stump tool. The tools will sample the skin texture and colors from the good areas and will cover the scar area with sampled texture.


Video Tutorial on how to remove scars using Photoshop


Hope this article will help you in dealing with how to remove scars using Photoshop. I thank you for learning with me. If you have any questions, please do let me know in the comment section bellow.


Article Courtesy: Written by Ron Zepplin, CEO of ClippingPathed.Com, a professional photo editing company providing editing services like clipping path, Photo masking, drop shadow, photo retouching, photo manipulation, reflection effect, raster to vector conversion and many more. Please contact us if you need any kind of photo editing services at affordable cost. Video courtesy: Phlearn.

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