How to Use the Patch Tool in PhotoShop

A Simple step by step tutorial

This Hub is written in answer to the question asked by WebbyAvatar in HubPage questions ‘How does the Patch Tool Work in PhotoShop. I will do a simple tutorial step by step on the patch tool so that even a beginner who is a novice in PhotoShop can follow it.

As usual in the course of this tutorial no knowledge will be assumed and to help you to identify where things are I will highlight the relevant places that you need to click on in each image. I hope that you will enjoy learning how to use this fascinating tool.

If after reading the tutorial you have any questions that you would like to ask, please ask them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them as soon as possible.

Before and After the Patch

Thirty Day free trial

If you have never tried PhotoShop because of the expense then why not go to their website and download the thirty-day free trial of their latest version. This trial version costs you nothing to download and you get to play with it for thirty days. Of course at the end of thirty days it will be disabled but in the mean time you will have had a chance to try their latest version and try out all the new features.

Fig One

Fig one
Fig one

Open image in PhotoShop

First click on your icon for PhotoShop and open up the program.

Once you have the program open go to file (see fig one) and left click on it and you will get a drop down menu the second item down is ‘open’ left click on this and open the image that you want to use the patch tool on.

I cannot show you the drop down menu on the file because I cannot capture it, sorry :(

An unwanted crane in the photograph

I am using a  (see fig two) photograph of the sea front in Villajoyosa taken from a boat just off shore.

It is a very nice photograph but a huge crane dominates the skyline and spoils the picture. This photograph would definitely look better if the big crane was removed leaving the skyline clear.

This image I think will demonstrate just how useful this wonderful little patch tool is when it comes to removing unwanted items like this crane from our photographs.

Fig two

fig three

The Patch Tool

The patch tool is found on the left-hand side in the tool bar it is the seventh icon down.

Right click on this item and you will get a dropdown menu, which has four tool options see fig three.

The patch tool is the third tool down. The patch tool icon looks like a small patch. The icon which appears in the tool bar is the one selected from the drop down menu.

Don't worry if you cannot see the patch tool on your tool bar, you will see it in the drop down menu when you right click on the icon.

When looking for the patch tool in your tool bar it is more likely that you will see the icon for one of the healing brush tools showing in the tool bar.


Select the patch tool

Right click on the patch tool to select it. When the patch tool has been selected the drop down menu will disappear and the patch tool icon will now be showing in the top left-hand corner with the options available for this tool. See fig four.

Click on the little circle to the right of the word source a little green dot should appear in the center of the circle to show that it has been selected.

It is important that you have source selected not destination. If destination is selected when we move our selection we will be adding another crane to the skyline instead of removing one.

fig four

Selecting the area that you want patched

he patch tool works like the lasso tool and what we need to do now is select the area that you want patched. We do this by drawing round the area that we want to replace by the patch.


When the patch tool is selected the cursor turns into a patch so that you know that you are using the patch tool. Place the cursor where you want to start to draw and holding down the left button on your mouse keep holding it down until you have completed the selection.

It is important that your first point and your last point meet so that your selection is fully enclosed.

When you have closed your selection you will get the marching ants that you see in fig five below, if you don’t have these marching ants showing then you have not closed your selection properly.

fig five

Moving the selection

In fig five you can see that I have selected the crane and I am ready to move my selection to the right into a clear area of blue sky.

Check before you move the selection that you have the source selected and not the destination see fig four.

Placing your cursor inside the area that you have selected hold down the left side of the mouse and move the selection by just dragging it to the area that you want. In this case it is to the nearest piece of blue sky. See fig six


fig six

Selecting the source for the patch

As the selection is moved to the right you will see that the original marquee of moving ants is still there and you are actually now moving a copy marquee of the same size.

As this copy marquee is moved whatever is under the marquee will now appear in the original area. In this case the blue sky replaces the crane.

Making the selection

When you have found a suitable area just stop holding down the left mouse button and the new selection has now replaced what was originally there, in our case blue sky instead of crane.

The copy marquee will disappear and the original marquee of marching ants will still be there which tells you this area is still selected and still active.

While it is still active and selected you can edit this selection without it changing anything outside the selected area.

Sometimes you might need to lighten or darken the new patched area to make it blend in more in this case I didn’t need to because the colour of the sky was pretty uniform.

Once you are satisfied with the patch just click outside the marquee and the area will be unselected but remember any changes that you make now will affect the whole photograph not just the new patched area.

The patch tool is so cool because it feathers the patch so that it blends in without leaving any sharp lines where it is patched onto the original. Don't you just love digital editing :)

Fig seven is the finished result, which I think you will agree looks much nicer without the crane.

I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial if you have any questions or don’t understand something please contact me and let me know what the problem is.

fig seven

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Just click on the image if you want to see it full sized.

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Comments 67 comments

am@n profile image

am@n 5 years ago

great tutorial... very useful for beginners.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you I appreciate the feedback :)


Stacie L profile image

Stacie L 5 years ago

i would like to use photoshop but the cost is prohibitive..nice tutorial.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Maggs, I've got photo-shop as an included software feature of a Gateway computer system. I went to the net and got "Photo.net" as a cnet down load that was free and it work much the same but less detailed in key strokes, I'll now try the Photo-shop I have as well and see what I think about the ease of use and the end results. Do you mind me using the same image of the crane.? peace dusty


Docmo profile image

Docmo 5 years ago from UK

Useful tips with screenshots. Great tutorial- Thanks!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Stacie, I agree the price of this software is very expensive, you can download their trial version free from their website which will give you access to the full blown version for thirty days.

However, if you want to try a free alternative to PhotoShop try GIMP, which is a free software package that you can download legally from the web. GIMP can do most of the things that PhotoShop does, apart from the latest stuff on PhotoShop’s newest versions.

I have a hub tutorial on layers for GIMP, which gives one of the web addresses where you can download this software. GIMP will be more than what most people need as it can tackle a wide range of tasks.

Thanks for leaving a comment I appreciate it very much.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Dusty, What’s mine is yours :) please feel free to copy any of my images on the tutorials it is certainly easier to follow the tutorial if you are using the same photograph. If you can’t grab it for any reason off the hub let me know and I will email you a copy straight back.

Thanks for leaving your comment as always it is great to see your name in my comments I hope you had a great Christmas and that the weather is being kind to you.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Docmo, thank you so much for the positive feedback I appreciate it very much.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 5 years ago from Arizona

Maggs, the weather is excellent at 40 degrees to 70 degrees I couldn't ask for better. I spent the holidays as usual, just goofing off around hear staying out of town and the crowds fighting over stuff on shelves, a tradition I hope is only American! Peace Dusty


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Dusty, glad that the weather is great, and here in Spain Christmas is not that commercialise it is much more just a religious fiesta.

The 6th of January is more important which is the Three Kings fiesta when they give presents.

Peace Maggs


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

This is a fantastic lesson. Thank you for sharing.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Hello, thank you so much for your positive feedback I really appreciate it and as for sharing it really was my pleasure.


leni sands profile image

leni sands 5 years ago from UK

Great article - just in the process of downloading GIMP as well, thanks!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Leni, Glad you enjoyed the hub and I hope that you have a lot of fun with GIMP :)


Steve Gordon 5 years ago

Thank you for showing us how to use the patch tool. I just hate going to the manual.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Steve I am glad that you found it helpful, I find that the proper manuals are sometimes a little hard to follow even when I want to learn.

Thanks for leaving a comment I appreciate it :)


Carpet Man 5 years ago

You're welcome Maggs, do you have any other blogs? I'd be interested in seeing what you're up to.


dentalimplantsla profile image

dentalimplantsla 5 years ago from Los Angeles

Wow- this was great. I have quite a few vacation photos where there are unwanted objects in the pic and I rarely showed them to anybody because it bugged me to have things like cranes, or tree coming out of someone's head, in the background. Your explanation was quite clear.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Steve, If you click on my profile photo at the top of the page it will take you to my profile page from there you can see and access all the other Hubs that I have written.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Dentalimplantsla,the patch tool is a great little feature and I hope that soon all those pesky trees and cranes will no longer appear to becoming out of some poor souls head Lol.

I hope that you have lots of fun removing all the unwanted objects :)


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

How helpful you are Maggs! I have staff that are fluent in photoshop but I hardly ever ask them for help. Your simple and clear tutorial makes it easy. Thank you. =:)


Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 5 years ago from India

Very useful - thank you! I usually use the clone tool and have never experimented with the patch tool!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you Winsome for your kind comments I am glad that it was easy to follow.

I try to do my tutorials as simply as possible so that even a novice can follow. Sometimes I find tutorial start off with a baseline of assumed knowledge that I don't have and I am stuck before I even start.

I figured I must not be on my own in that, my worry was that I might be too detailed and it turning a little tedious.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Shalini, I am glad that you found it useful, for larger areas the patch tool is very useful I use it a lot when retoring old photographs. :)


Eileen Hughes profile image

Eileen Hughes 5 years ago from Northam Western Australia

Very informative article. there is so much we can learn from your tutorials. I love tinkering with photos. Adding legs to people or fruit to trees. Thanks so much for a great tutorial.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have photoshop but have yet to tinker with it and learn how to use it. Definitely bookmarking this! Thanks for the tutorial!


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Really useful hub and well explained, thank you.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Eileen, first let me say I am so sorry that I have taken so long to respond but I have no internet access at home at the moment and I am waiting for Telephonica to come and give me a line they say it should be no later than September. Spain and Telephonica move to the beat of a different drum :(

Like you I love tinkering around with my photos in PhotoShop it is amazing what you can do these days with the software.

I am so glad that you enjoyed the tutorial I hope you have lots of fun trying it out.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Peggy first let me start off with an apology I am so sorry that I have taken so long to respond but I have no internet access at home at the moment.

I am waiting for Telephonica to come and give me a line they say it should be no later than September but they did not say which September. Spain and Telephonica move to the beat of a different drum :(

I am so glad that you found the tutorial interestings I hope that you have lots of fun tinkering :)


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 5 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you Movie Master for your encouraging comments I am just so sorry that I have taken so long to respond but I have no internet access at home at the moment.

Like I told Peggy I am waiting for Telephonica to come and give me a line they say it should be no later than September but they did not say which September. Spain and Telephonica move to the beat of a different drum :(

Thank you for being such an encourager :)


baygirl33 profile image

baygirl33 4 years ago from Hamilton On.

Amazingly simple explanation of a would be complicated thing to use.Thanks for sharing!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Baygirl I am so pleased that found the hub easy to follow it is so nice to get positive feedback it is really encouraging. Thanks again :)


Aprilgirl16 4 years ago

Wonderful post. Full of great info. In awe of your expertise with PhotoShop. Great job!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you so much for your really kind comment I really appreciate it and I am so pleased that you liked the tutorial :D maggs


sabrinajoseph21 4 years ago

Hey nice article can you check out mine to see what is wrong with it or if I need to add something. Its called How To use A Gradient Tool in Photoshop.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 4 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hi Sabrina, have been to check out your hub but it looks like you have not published it yet let me know when you have it up Maggs :D


sabrinajoseph21 4 years ago

Its called HOW TO USE A GRADIENT TOOL IN PHOTOSHOP

Sorry for the confusion.


JanMaklak profile image

JanMaklak 4 years ago from Canada

You know if it wasn't for your post I would have never thought about the patch tool. Photoshop has more than one way to get things done and it's all about finding the most eloquent tool for the job. The patch tool resides within the content aware icon on the left in CS6.

Thank you for a great post.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you so much for your comment Jan, Photoshop is a fabulous tool I doubt that most of us use more than 10% of this software's potential.

I am being constantly amazed at the new things that I learn about Photoshop. Content aware is fantastic when it works first time :D


mrsponge1 profile image

mrsponge1 3 years ago from Florida

Thanks for that tip, it will come in handy. Just learning to use CS6 , so I could use all the help I can get.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you mrsponge1 I think that the new content aware in CS6 can do a much better job than the patch tool now.

You just get to grips with a bit then they bring out another new element in the package.

It is so amazing what you can do now using Photoshop I don't think that most of us even begin to scratch the surface of what can be achieved in Photoshop.


andis01 3 years ago

any photoshop will do, i recommend u CS3 or CS4.

When u install it open ur picture and on the toolbar select the "filter" option and in there ull find "liquify" that's the easiest tool to change facial features. have fun!

http://downallsoftware.com/detail-527.php


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you for your comment andis01 and I will give that a try when I get a little free time. :D


kedwa1216 3 years ago

You say that "Sometimes you might need to lighten or darken the new patched area" how do you do that. I'm trying to use the patch tool but the patch is very light and all of my opacities are set to 100%. Is there a setting I'm missing? Thanks


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

While the patch area is still selected (you can still see the marquee around the area of the patch) any lightening or darkening that you do will only be applied to the selected area.

So go to adjustments which you will find on the drop down menu when you click on image and the top four options on the drop down menu when you click on adjustments will allow you to manipulate just the area inside the marquee.

I hope that this helps :D


kedwa1216 3 years ago

Thank you so much! I have been pulling my hair out over this for quite awhile. Works like a dream.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

It was totally my pleasure, I am so glad that it proved to be useful thanks again for commenting :D


MPG Narratives profile image

MPG Narratives 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

Great tutorial thanks maggs224. I have used this tool before but having read this hub now I can do it better.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you so much MPG your comment is like sweet music to my ears, I am so pleased that you have found it helpful :D


stanmurphy profile image

stanmurphy 3 years ago from Kansas

Thanks for the tutorial. Photoshop can be overwhelming at first. I am a beginner with it and I recognize I have much to learn. This helps alot!


roysyas profile image

roysyas 3 years ago from Earth

Thank you! This is what I'm looking for! Really appreciate it.


iguidenetwork profile image

iguidenetwork 3 years ago from Austin, TX

Thanks for a great tutorial, I've learned another new Photoshop trick. Up, useful, shared and bookmarked.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you Stan, I am really pleased that you have found this helpful, and you are right it can be overwhelming.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you Roys, I am so pleased this is what you were looking for, and I really appreciate you taking the time to comment :D


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

I am glad that you found out how to do a new Photoshop trick, it is always fun to find out how to do something new, and I found out something new on your hub about Tumblr. Thank you for commenting I appreciate it :D


WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 3 years ago from Malaysia

A very clear explanation! I've been using Photoshop for many years now but I've never used the patch tool before. It's really cool, as compared to what I've been doing all along, i.e. I clone the spot. Concept is the same but the patch tool is so much more efficient. Thank you Maggs224 for this very well-written hub. Voted up with UABI.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you so much Walter, your comment has made me very happy, I am so pleased when someone can do something new and fun after reading one of my tutorials.

It was my aim to make the tutorial easy to follow, and so when I get feedback like your feedback, it is so encouraging and I feel like I have managed to do what I set out to do. I also really appreciate the vote and the UABI cheers :D


WalterPoon profile image

WalterPoon 3 years ago from Malaysia

Maggs224, do you have a hub on how to do masking? Seems like I've hardly scratched the surface, as far as Photoshop is concerned, although I've been at it for more than 5 years now... doing the same thing all over again with just a few basic tools!


kaonimei 3 years ago

hello


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

No I haven't Walter but I will try and remedy that for you I will set about doing one for you very shortly :D


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Hello kaonimei


ClipMasters profile image

ClipMasters 3 years ago from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Great Photoshop tutorial. it really helpful for every on who need to know about Patch Tool in PhotoShop for removing unwanted object form image. Let's http://www.clipmasters.com do this for you, Open 24/7 with low price. Try now! http://www.clipmasters.com/upload-images/try-it-fr...


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 3 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

Thank you Earn4free for you kind comments I am glad that you think so :D


Hugo Furst profile image

Hugo Furst 2 years ago from Australia

Aah, one of the so many useful tools in Photoshop! Glad to know there are hubbers who are happy to write informative and easy-to-follow tutorials :) Voted up!


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 2 years ago from Sunny Spain Author

@Hugo Furst I am so glad that you found the tutorial informative and easy to follow, and I appreciate you taking the time to give me this feedback. I also appreciate the vote up. I am sorry that it has taken so long to respond to your comment, but I have been away visiting my daughter for a few weeks and so have been away from computers for a change :D


watergeek profile image

watergeek 2 years ago

Way cool! I have used the patch tool before, but not nearly as effectively as you show here. I didn't notice the selection, destination, or transparent buttons, for one thing, and now am excited about what I can do with them. It also didn't occur to me to keep the selection after moving out what I didn't want. I kept reselecting parts of the new image (in your case, sky) using the patch tool again, until it matched its surroundings. Yay! Thank you.


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 23 months ago from Sunny Spain Author

watergeek I am so pleased that you have found this useful and easy to follow. Thank you for leaving your kind comment it really lifts my day when one of my tutorials proves to be interesting to someone :D

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