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  • Writer's pictureCarly Milligan

How to remove dust with Photoshop


When working with traditional media, one of the additional steps and challenges is creating reproductions of the work. My preferred method is to use my DSLR and raking light to get a good quality photograph of it. But that does not remove dust.

I do what I can to keep dust and pet hair out of my paintings and varnish. I also wipe them down with a clean lint free cloth be photographing. This does not completely deal with the problem though! It also does nothing for shiny glare spots that can happen on more impasto and textured brush strokes.

My solution: let photoshop to the work.

The best way I have found to remove dust and these unwanted marks is with the "Spot Healing Brush Tool."

In the past I've tried manual brush work, or the clone stamp tool. This is by far the easiest and fasting thing I've done so far.

Other things to note about dust on paintings:

  • It's worst in my shadows. When using transparent or opaque pigments those dark passages show every little spec.

  • Use a tiny brush. The algorithm photoshop uses is great, but it does leave its "mark" so to speak. To keep the reproduction as high quality and close to the original as possible it's worth taking the time to go over each spot individually with the smallest brush size you can. It goes surprisingly fast with a tablet and pen.

  • Be selective when removing highlights from textural brush marks. I remove them from the shadow areas because that glare is distracting. But if I did this to all of my textural marks it would flatten them out completely. The digital reproduction already looses a lot of the sculptural nature paint can have, but I try to maintain what I can especially in light areas like the edges of the clouds on this painting.

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