How to Use the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom

March 27, 2012

in Jessica Thew, Lightroom, Photography Creative Team, Photography Tutorials

I Heart Faces Lightroom Tutorial:  Spot Removal Tool

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Lightroom is a wonderful, user-friendly program for editing photos. If you are just getting started with Lightroom, though, you might be wondering how to use its photo editing features and tools. In the first of her series on editing in Lightroom, Jessica Paige from One Willow teaches us how to use the Spot Removal tool.

Using the Spot Removal Tool in Lightroom

There are a few reasons you might find yourself using the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom: to remove dust or dirt spots (perhaps on your camera sensor and showing up on your photos), to remove minor distractions appearing in the photo, or to heal minor blemishes in portraiture. There are more reasons, but that is the general idea. Whatever the reason, you will learn exactly how to use this tool in today’s tutorial on Lightroom’s Spot Removal Tool.

To get started, let’s introduce you to the basics of the Spot Removal tool.

You can locate the tool just below the histogram in the Develop module.

I Heart Faces Lightroom Tutorial:  Spot Removal Tool

When you click the tool, two options will appear; Clone and Heal. Clone is more dramatic with a more defined border and Heal is more subtle with a faded border. I almost always use Heal as it seems to provide a more natural looking coverage. You can choose your desired option by clicking on it while you have your Spot Removal tool open, and it is very easy to toggle between the two with just a click.

I Heart Faces Lightroom Tutorial

A few ways you can adjust the size of the tool is by using the Size slider or by using your [ (left bracket) key to decrease the size or the ] (right bracket) key to increase the size.

You can adjust the opacity of the tool by using the Opacity slider. This is a great option if you only want to lighten a spot but not remove it entirely.

Now, let’s move on to using the tool on your image. I captured this photo of my son one afternoon this winter. Typically he either runs from the camera or puts on a big ol’ cheesy grin… so, you can imagine how incredibly excited I was to get a soft smile AND him looking at the camera in the same shot, at.the.same.time! I knew that I was going to have to do some post process clean up because I saw that the lint from his hat was showing up on his navy blue jacket; plus, I knew that he had some chapping on his chin as well as a few other dry skin spots. So, I imported into Lightroom, applied a preset, tweaked with the adjustment brush and ended by grabbing the Spot Removal tool (set to Heal) and removed various spots throughout the image. (In case you’re wondering, you can use this tool before or after your edit. I chose to make all the other adjustments first, then use the spot removal tool this time.)

To use the Spot Removal Tool, move the cursor (adjusted to the appropriate size) directly over top of the spot and click. Two circles will appear; one to cover the spot and one to grab the area for coverage. Lightroom automatically tries to grab from an area that it thinks will work; sometimes it chooses correctly, but often you have to adjust. To adjust, click-and-drag the highlighted circle to a more appropriate sample or area. While you have your spot removal tool open, continue to scroll the image and apply where needed.

I Heart Faces Lightroom Tutorial:  Spot Removal Tool

I Heart Faces Lightroom Tutorial:  Spot Removal Tool

A few more tips when using this tool:

If you want to zoom in tight on your image you must do so before opening the spot removal tool or close the tool, zoom and then re-open it. A few ways to zoom in: double click your image or press command +(Mac) or Control + (PC). Also, use your space bar to zoom at 100%.

To adjust a circle, click on it and make the appropriate adjustments.

To delete a spot removal circle simply click on the circle and press delete. Poof, gone.

I Heart Faces Lightroom Tutorial:  Spot Removal Tool

I hope this tutorial has given some guidance for utilizing the spot removal tool. While more complex edits might require the help of additional editing programs, this tool can be great for your Lightroom workflow.

One Willow Presets Ad ButtonJessica Paige is mom to a busy brood of five and the designer of One Willow Presets for Lightroom and ACR, a proud sponsor of I Heart Faces. View her beautiful presets collections on her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Charles Stafford March 29, 2012

Small tip as far as zooming goes, you can use zoom when the tool is active. Just click over to the navigator screen and select the zoom level you wish. You can also move the zoomed area around in navigator as well.

Hope this helps.


Nan Gutiérrez March 29, 2012

#software q verás en #taller d RT @paseoclick: RT @FotoBridge: How to Use Spot Removal Tool {Lightroom Tutorial}


Lacey12 March 28, 2012

Very impressive photographic application, I always expected for unexpected things.. I’m so excited to study photography..


Soly March 27, 2012

Angie! that was it! I calibrated my screen and voila!!!!
thank you so much for the advice….crazy that something like that can make such a difference…thank you again!


Soly March 27, 2012

Hi Angie,
I never would have thought it was the computer screen!
thank you so much for the info. What is it called, just a computer calibrator?


dorisdays88 March 27, 2012

Cool RT @livinglocurto: Do you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? Here a a great tutorial over on I Heart Faces.


Amy Locurto March 27, 2012

Do you use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom? Here a a great tutorial over on I Heart Faces.


angie {the arthur clan} March 27, 2012

Hi Soly,

If the image in this tutorial is showing up on your screen looking overexposed, you probably need to look into getting a calibrator for your computer screen. On my calibrated screen the image is showing up perfectly exposed with all facial features showing.

This is something that I wish I had known when I was first starting out in photography. It was only after I purchased my calibrator that I realized I was color correcting all of my images incorrectly and they actually all looked pretty bad to anyone else viewing them with a calibrated screen.

Hope this helps,

co-founder of I Heart Faces


Rhesa March 27, 2012

Thank you so much for this! I recently downloaded Lr3, and have been slightly overwhelmed! Tutorials like this are a great help.


Sharon March 27, 2012

Great job Jess! @ Soly, I personally do not think it is overexposed. I actually prefer to over expose my images a tad. It comes down to a matter of preference and your own personal style. LR is a great for editing images. PS is amazing too, but more difficult to learn and costs more. I have both, but do the majority of my editing in LR. If you are new, I would definitely start out with LR. Good luck!


Soly March 27, 2012

Hi! I’m new to photography and learning my way through.
Is lightroom better than photoshop? what’s the difference?
Would anyone say the above picture is over exposed? I mean the details in the little child’s face (nose) are barely there? its a gorgeous picture! but I see so many professional pictures online like this….
As i said, I’m new to photography so I’m still asking dumb questions…. thanks for listening 🙂


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