Adobe® Photoshop® Tutorial

Curing Hot Spots

By Jenny Binder

Week of August 4, 2008

Scrapper's Guide

Hot spots really irritate me. So do blurry photos. And although I haven’t found a fix for blurry photos (or at least a very good one), I DO have a method for getting rid of hot spots.

This is a photo of my 2 children with one of my sisters at my daughter’s birthday party. Everyone dressed as princesses (or in the case of my son, a prince) so this is definitely a photo I want to keep. But look at the hot spots on my sister’s face. Yikes. When you have something like that as a part of your photo, it draws your eye to it. Sometimes you want your eye to be drawn to certain things, but not hot spots. Let’s see if we can’t fix those, shall we?

Step 1) Open, Duplicate, and Zoom

  • Open the photo you want to correct.

  • Press Ctr J (Mac: Cmd J) to duplicate the photo layer. I do this so if I just really mess up the photo, I can always throw this new duplicate layer away and start over.

  • Zoom in close so you can see most of the face, but not necessarily anything else.

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Step 2) Choose and set the Clone tool

In the Tool Bar to the left, choose the Clone Stamp Tool. In the Options Bar above, enter the following settings:

  • From the Brush drop-down menu, choose a Soft Round brush. As far as size goes, if the hot spot is fairly large (like the one on her forehead) you want the brush to be about ¼ to ½ the size of the hot spot you want to correct. To check the size, you have to choose a brush first, then move your mouse over your image to see how big the brush is. You can adjust the size later by pressing the left bracket key to size down, and the right bracket key to size up. I have chosen the 65px one for my image.

  • Mode: Darken

  • Opacity: Around 35%

  • UNcheck Aligned and All Layers

  • Sample: Current Layer
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Step 3) Sample

The Clone Stamp Tool paints one part of an image over another part of the image. In this case, we want to paint a good non-hot-spot part of the image over the hot spot. You must start by setting the sampling point on the good part of the image.

  • Find a part of your photo that is the color and shade you want to change your hot spot to. Usually this is an area close to the hot spot, but not too close.
  • Press and hold the Alt key (Mac: Opt key) and click once in that spot. (If you notice, the mouse pointer that was a circle turns into cross-hairs in a circle when Alt (Mac: Opt) is pressed.) After you have clicked once, you can release the Alt key (Mac: Opt key). This just created the sample you want Photoshop to copy from, and normally you only have to do this once before you start cloning.

Step 4) Clone over the hot spot

Start clicking on the hot spot. Click once and then move to a different area of the hot spot and click again. You may have to click more than once on the same area. I use clicks or very short strokes. The longer the stroke, the greater the chance that you will sample a part of the image you didn’t want to. Continue clicking around until that hot spot is gone.

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Step 5) Move to another hot spot

Chances are good that if there is one hot spot, there are several. Common problem areas are foreheads, cheeks, noses, and chins. When you move to a different hot spot, be sure you “Alt click” (Mac: “Opt click”) a new sample next to it. Also, you may need to adjust the size of the brush. Sometimes I have to make my brush quite small because I can only find a small area to get a clean sample from. On this photo, I have even slightly darkened the reflections on her front teeth, although I didn’t eliminate them altogether. Look at what a difference this makes!

Creating Mats

How does this work?

If you are familiar with the Clone Stamp Tool, you may wonder why I chose Darken as the Mode, which is the real trick to this tip. By changing the Mode to Darken, only those areas that are lighter than our sample (the area we Alt Clicked [Opt Clicked] on) will be replaced by our sample. Amazing, huh!

Questions? Comments?

This week you will find a new thread in the “Tip of the Week” forum titled, “August 4th Tip - Hot Spots”. If you have a question or comment about this week’s tip, please post it there. And if you want to show off your hot-spot-cured photos, post them to your own gallery and then post a link in this forum thread. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing your wonderful work!


Tutorial by Jenny Binder,


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