Are you one to stand in the way of progress? I think not. It may be our most ‘human’ quality, the need to relentlessly move forward. Actually, maybe it’s not human, but rather an evolution. Either way, in its pursuit of advancement, Adobe seems to be trying to push out new things all the time, even when they may not be ready. I don’t know if I can actually fault them for this considering any mover and shaker tends to preach that the most important thing for positive change is just to start. I believe I recall Sir Richard Branson saying, and I’m paraphrasing here, that the key differentiator between those who succeed and those who don’t, is that those who do begin before they’re entirely ready.

Anyway, what this means for Adobe is that they’re racing new tech before the tech can walk, and that’s made picking at them easy since it’s all low hanging fruit. We’ve seen it with Lightroom mostly, but aside from the noise of discontent with Lightroom, there have been some Photoshop issues also with their latest releases. You can see the mess they’ve made of the Liquify tool in this post from just days ago, and now there’s something else.


There’s a ‘Healing Brush’ issue. Well, there has been an issue since an earlier update to Photoshop, which saw the healing brush engine changed to work quite differently than we’d been used to. It’s been dubbed as a ‘live’ healing brush that began to ‘heal’ as you began painting over the area to be healed. Prior to this in older versions, the change wouldn’t appear until you’d finished with your selection, but that’s not the case anymore.

Oh it sounds good, and I’m not entirely sure that it isn’t given the immediacy of the feedback to be honest, but it took a bit of getting used to, because as it wasn’t waiting for the selection to be made in full, it wasn’t essentially correcting the area based on all the selection, so it initially would look a bit off, and then more complete once the selection was done. You sort of just had to trust that it would look ok at the end.


Of course, there were many that didn’t care much for the change, some claiming it slowed down their workflow (likely due to a less powerful system), and others just didn’t like the results. Personally, I hadn’t been bothered by it too much, but in an effort to please the masses, Adobe has released some options for everyone, effectively giving us access to 4 variants of the healing brush. Here they are:

Healing Brush As Per Photoshop update 2015.1
If you’ve done the update, this is what you got ‘outta the box.’ It is a healing brush that does have the ‘live’ view healing, but can be tempered with a ‘Diffusion’ slider marked from powers of 1 to 7. Essentially, what this means is you get to control the level of healing of the area. To be honest, I haven’t used this very much yet to comment, but I am so used to the old ways I’ll probably stick with it.

LegacyHealingBrush161 1:
Photoshop CC 2014 and earlier healing brush algorithm (i.e. Legacy), non-realtime user interface feedback.

This is supposed to be a throwback to those who want the healing brush to function as they’ve been used to in past generations of Photoshop, without the new engine, and without real-time feedback.

LegacyHealingBrush161 0:
Photoshop CC 2015 real-time algorithm with real-time user interface feedback.

This is the brush that came standard with Photoshop CC 2015 prior to the latest ‘.1’ update. It’s the one I spoke of in the intro to this piece, where you’ve got live view of healing where it doesn’t wait for you to make your entire selection, and it does not have a diffusion option.

LegacyHealingBrush161 2:
Photoshop CC 2015 real-time algorithm with no real-time user interface feedback.

Alright, this is arguably the most interesting option and the one I currently have set. It effectively is using the same engine, which should assist with speed theoretically, but does operate more like healing brushes of yore, where you make your selection, and then it goes to work.

The argument against it, however, is that it seems to actually just delay what it shows you ‘live’ and is actually doing the ‘healing’ live anyway, so the results may be the same as they have been in my experience. As I’ve said, I’m not much bothered and I haven’t seen much of a difference on the few files I’ve worked on for it, though some higher end retouchers have given word that it’s not quite as good.


Anyway, there you have it. If you want to switch from the default brush to any of these, here are the instructions as per Adobe’s site:

Follow these steps:

  1. Install the Photoshop CC 2015.1 update.
  2. Use Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac OS) to create a plain text file.
  3. Type the text:
    LegacyHealingBrush161 1 into the text file for Photoshop CC 2014 and earlier healing brush algorithm (i.e. Legacy), non-realtime user interface feedback
    LegacyHealingBrush161 0 into the text file for Photoshop CC 2015 real-time algorithm with real-time user interface feedback
    LegacyHealingBrush161 2 into the text file for Photoshop CC 2015 real-time algorithm with no real-time user interface feedback
  4. Save the file as PSUserConfig.txt to your Photoshop settings folder:
    Windows: [Installation Drive]:\Users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CC 2015\Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 Settings\
    Mac OS: //Users/[User Name]/Library/Preferences/Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 Settings/
  5. Restart Photoshop. The changes will take effect.