How To Remove Shine
And Hotspots With Photoshop Elements

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Removing skin shine and hotspots with Photoshop Elements is a straightforward procedure once you understand the techniques.  Those unwanted and nasty shiny spots tend to collect on foreheads, cheeks, noses and chins and appear on images taken in bright sunlight and when a flash is used.

Occasionally, the frames and lenses of glasses will pick up the sun or flash and produce hotspots that can be a real challenge to remove - until now.

Unfortunately these areas are resistant to one of my favorite techniques - burning with a Soft Light Layer -  (in a dodge and burn sense) because the shiny spots are pure white.

The problem with skin shine and hotspots is that they mess up the overall contrast and draw the eyes to themselves like a magnet - the image can be wonderful but the eyes just go right to that brilliant shiny area and that's all you see, isn't it?

The methods we will use include ...

  • Some artful Cloning with a Wacom Bamboo or Intuos tablet, or ..
  • Some artful Healing with a Wacom Bamboo or Intuos tablet and the Healing Brush Tool.
  • Selecting with the Selection Brush.
  • Shadows/Highlights.
  • Layer Blend Modes.
The techniques described here are best done with a graphics tablet such as the Wacom Bamboo or the Wacom Intuos.  The reason is the pen and teablet's ability to change dynamics (paint opacity and/or brush size) as you change the pressure of the pen on the tablet.  If that's not enough, the precision and control with a pen is really amazing.

So let's find us an image with some hotspots and shine and eliminate it ...

Working Image

This one has all of the shiny spots we're looking for - shine on the nose, cheeks and chin as well as a nasty hotspot on the rim of her glasses - otherwise it's a great shot ...

hotspots and shine


Clone Tool Options

The shiny spots on these areas will be removed with the Clone Tool.  This is how the Options Bar for the Cone Tool is set ...

hotspots clone tool options

I'm using a Wacom Intuos tablet so a brush that changes opacity with pressure was chosen. The brush mode was set to Darken because I wanted to darken the different shiny areas so they are the same as the surrounding area.

The Aligned check box was both checked and un-checked.  When it's un-checked the Source point of the Clone tool always returns to the last place it was set.

All Layers was also checked because layers are used to make the corrections - avoid doing the corrections on the original image.

Healing Brush Tool

hotspots healing brush optionsShiny surfaces can be eliminated with the Healing Brush Tool as well as with the Cone Tool and these are the options for the brush.

Normal mode seems to work best for healing in this situation.

The Hardness is set to zero to provide a soft edge brush, preventing hard edges.

I'm using a round brush so the Angle and the Roundness will stay at the default settings.

The Size of the brush is set to Pen Pressure with the bottom drop down list.

My preference is to use the Clone Tool with Opacity as the brush dynamic with a Wacom graphics tablet because the shiny spot can be eliminate gradually - but the choice is up to you.

New Window For ....

At the top of the View Menu is a selection - New Window For.  This will create a second image on-screen.  The value of this is that you can zoom way in on one of the images, do your cloning on it and watch the changes taking place in real time on the full size image - this is absolutely fabulous.  You gotta try it out for yourself.

Here is how the screen looks ...

hotspots new window

In this situation I'm working on the shiny spot on the nose in the left image and watching how it looks on the large right image.  It really provides some great perspective ...

Cheek, Nose and Chin

The most efficient way to eliminate the shine on the cheek, nose and chin is to use the Clone Tool as it was set earlier.

Create a new layer and give it a name - Cheek would work nicely for the cheek, don't you think?

Zoom in closely on the working image, set the source point by Alt-tapping with the pen (Alt-Click with a mouse) and slowly start cloning away the shiny area.

hotspots cheek

While you're zoomed in check for any blemishes that are present - might as well take care of them at the same time, right?  At the top of the zoomed image (on the left) is a blemish that's quite a bit darker than the surrounding area.

To eliminate the dark blemish the Darken mode of the Clone Tool will need to be changed to either Normal or Lighten.  In truth, a blemish can also be thought of as a hotspot, can't it?

hotspot blemish hot blemish gone
Blemish Blemish Gone

Once you're happy with the first area then move on to the next by creating a new layer and giving it a name.  With this image I created two new layers - one is Nose and the other one  is Chin.

Both areas were worked in the exact same manner as the Cheek layer and this is the image after they were completed ...

hotspots after cloning

Looking good, don't you think?  Now for the hotspot on the glasses ...

Hotspots On The Glasses

There are two hotspots on the glasses - the most prominent one is on the left side of the image and the other is just above her left eye.

The most prominent hotspot can be cloned out but it would be a fiddly and annoying procedure. In some cases you can make a patch from a non-shiny area and move it over the shiny area but that is fiddly as well.

There is another way that is really effective and that is to use the Shadows/Highlights adjustment in the Enhance > Adjust Lighting menu.

The Shadows/Highlights has to be done on the original image so some preparation is required.

The first thing that needs to be done is to select the offending hotspot and then put it on its own layer.

Making The Selection

hotspots selectionTo make this selection on the rim of the glasses I used the Selection Brush.

The Hardness (in the Options bar) was set to 0.

The brush size was varied from 7 pixels to 2 pixels.

The Feathering was set to 1.

All of the areas that were too light were selected with the Selection Brush.

Once the selections was completed it was copied to a new layer with Ctrl-J/Cmd-J and t'was named Rim..

This placed just the shiny bits on a layer and the Shadows/Highlights can be run just on the new layer created from the selection.


Make sure the Selection layer (Rim, in my case) is selected and then Enhance > Adjust Lighting > Shadows/Highlights ...

hotspots shadows/highlightsThe Palette defaults to 25 in the Lighten Shadows box - we're not working with any shadows when dealing with hotspots so the slider was moved to 0.

The important slider in this situation is the Darken Highlights slider.  Move it up and watch what happens with the hotspot.

It's likely that the Darken Highlights slider will be moved all the way to the right (100%) with this result ...

hotspots shadows/highlights

This is better but not perfect - yet.  This is where your knowledge of Layer Blend Modes comes in handy.

Change the Layer Blend Mode from Normal to Multiply and the rim will get darker.

If it's still not enough the next step is to duplicate the rim layer as many times as necessary to achieve the desired results (the Blend Mode of each duplicate layer will be Multiply).  With this image the Rim layer was duplicated 3 times - and here they are ...

hotspots first adjustment The first Shadows/Highlights adjustment and the Layer Blend Mode changed to Multiply.  It has decreased the hotspots but not quite enough so ....
hotspots adjustment 2 The Rim layer duplicated ...
Hotspots adjustment 3 and the Rim layer duplicated again and then ...
hotspots adjustment 3 it was duplicated one final time.

And here's the image after the cloning out the shiny areas and eliminating the hotspots with a Shadows/Highlights adjustment.

hotspots final image

There still is one little hotspot just above her left eye but it's not bugging me so it can stay right where it is.  This one would be easy to remove with the Clone Tool if one was so inclined.

About the only thing left to do with this image would be to brighten up the whites of the eyes and brighten up the teeth with some digital dental hygiene.

The final layers palette is at the top of the page - check it out here.

There you go - a couple of techniques to remove shine and hotspots.

I really appreciate your visit and hope you find this tutorial helpful.

Hotspots Page Links

Working Image


Cheek, Nose and Chin

Hotspots on Glasses

Making The Selection

Layers Palette

hotspots layers palette

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