This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to remove facial lines and blemishes using GIMPs Healing Tool. To work along, you are welcome to download the Start Image I am working with Here. Unzip the file and open the image onto GIMP’s workspace.
Repairing photographs is not a precise science. Undoubtedly, you will require considerable patience and lots of time. Additionally, individual photographs have different needs, and require different filters and commands. This type of photo editing cannot be rushed. For a good result, it’s important to give yourself plenty of time, and to take a break as soon as you feel eyestrain. In addition, remember save your work (as a XCF File) regularly.
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu choose View then select a Zoom Tool from the subsequent drop-down list.
The Clone Tool
Understand Blend Modes
Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes
Open your choice of Start Image onto GIMP’s workspace - File then Open - Ctrl then O.
Duplicate Your Image
It’s important to preserve your original image: therefore, Duplicate your image; Ctrl then D - (Image then Duplicate). Now, close the original image, and work on the Duplicated image.
Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).
Now, Duplicate the Background Layer by clicking the following Create a duplicate... tab.
And working on the Background copy Layer. From the top menu, choose Filters then choose Blur and then choose Gaussian Blur. Now, from the subsequent Gaussian Blur dialogue box, enter a Blur Radius of around 5. And then click OK.
4/ Understand Layers - Understand Blend Modes.
Now, change the Background Copy Layer’s (the Top Layer’s) Blend Mode from Normal to Lighten Only.
5/ Add An Alpha Channel To The Background Copy Layer
From the Layers Palette: right-click over the Background Copy Layer, and from the subsequent drop-down list, click Add Alpha Channel.
Then from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Eraser Tool.
And enter the following Soft (Fuzzy) Round Brush settings into the Options Box.
You can quickly change the Brush’s Scale (Size) by tapping your Keyboard’s Square Bracket Keys.
Still working on the Background Copy Layer; left-click and remove unwanted blurred areas; for example, over the eyes and lips - as illustrated below.
It’s a good time to save your work as a XCF GIMP Image.
7/ Flatten Your Image’s Layers
From the top menu, choose Image and then choose Flatten Image.
Healing Tool Notes (Continue With Tutorial Here).
The Healing Tool is a close relative to the Clone Tool; however, due to its precision, the Healing Tool is more likely to remove wrinkles and blemishes from photographs. Pixels are not simply copied from source to destination, but the area around the destination is taken into account before cloning is applied. To use the Healing Tool, first choose a Brush with a Size adapted to the defect. And then Ctrl-click over the area you want to reproduce. Then release the Ctrl Key - and drag the sample to the defect. If the defect is slight and not very different from its surrounding area, the blemish/wrinkle will be corrected fairly easily. To remove larger blemishes/wrinkles, repeatedly click over the area. However, do bear in mind, repeated clicking brings with it the risk of daubing.
The Ctrl Key is used to select the source. You can heal from any Layer of any image by clicking on the image display, with the Ctrl Key held down, while the Layer is active (as shown in the Layers dialogue). If Alignment is set to Non-aligned or Aligned in Tool Options, then the point you click on becomes the origin for healing: the image data at that point will be used when you first begin painting with the Healing Tool. In source-selection mode, the cursor changes to a Crosshair-symbol.
Once the source is set, if you press the Shift Key, you will see a thin line connecting the previously clicked point with the current pointer location. If you click again, while going on holding the Shift Key down, the Healing Tool will heal along this line.
If you enable this option, healing is not calculated only from the values of the active Layer, but from all visible Layers.
Healing is not cloning. Although the Healing Tool has common features with the Clone Tool, the result is quite different.
For accuracy, Zoom into the eyes: - top menu, then View then Zoom.
Shift+Plus Key And Minus Key Tip
To quickly zoom in or out of an image - tap your Keyboard’s Shift+Plus Key or the Minus Key, respectively.
I zoomed in twice.
8/ Healing Tool Tutorial Continued
Now, from the left-side Toolbox, activate the Healing Tool.
Now, press down your Keyboard’s Ctrl Key, and then hover your cursor over a smooth area of skin, and with the Ctrl Key pressed, simultaneously left-click - as illustrated below. This samples (collects) the smooth pixels you just left-clicked over.
Move your cursor over a small blemished/wrinkled area. And then left-click once. This applies the smooth area you have just collected, over the wrinkle/blemish. As illustrated below.
The Healing Tool blends pixels from the source point with the original pixels of your (healing Brush) stroke - therefore, as you move around different areas of the image, keep Ctrl (and left-clicking) to gather lighter, or darker, skin tones, from the Source Point.
Incorrect Pixels Collection Example
Slowly Remove (Heal) Your Image’s Blemishes And Wrinkles
Now, work around your image and continue to “Heal” lines and blemishes using the Healing Tool.
You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z.
After you have successfully “Healed” the majority of lines and wrinkles, you are ready for the next step.
Return your image to its original size; View then Zoom then Zoom Out.
Smudge Tool Tip
To soften blemishes, activate the Toolbox’s Smudge Tool.
And enter the following settings into the Smudge Tool’s Options Box.
Now, left-click and carefully soften any remaining lines or blemishes - as illustrated below.
9/ Add Warmth
Now, from the top menu, choose Colours and then choose Hue-Saturation. And from the subsequent Hue-Saturaton dialogue box, add warmth to your image by dragging the Saturation slider a little to the right. And then click OK.
Congratulations, your work is complete, and it is ready to save - top menu, then File then Save As.
Now you are familiar with this technique, you can, with time and patience, remove lines and wrinkles from any photograph.
Wendi E. M. Scarth. Top of Page.