How To Manipulate Images With The Photoshop Clone Stamp Tool

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Those new to the wonders of Photoshop absolutely fall in love with the handy, dandy Clonestamp tool. And why shouldn’t they? It’s simply a blast to remove people from photographs, fixing up damaged photographs or just having a grand old time adding bits and filling things in. In short, the Clone tool is an amazing tool to have for Photoshop newbies and veterans alike. It’s also fantastic for retouchers. So, how does this thing work?

The Clone Stamp tool samples pixels from one area of an image and copies them to another part of the image. You use your brush to actually “paint” areas using another area you have set to be “cloned.” The tool allows usage of any brush tip or shape, which allows for very precise control over both manipulated areas. You can also sample from one image and apply the clone in another image, so long as both reside in the same color mode.

Look at the sample image below. We are going to remove the butterfly from the background. The results will be the same with any image and object you choose.

1. Open up your image in Photoshop.


2. Select the Clone Stamp tool (clip_image001).


3. On the tool options bar, open the Brush pop-up palette and select a medium-sized brush with a medium-soft edge. For this example, we’ll set the brush diameter to 200 pixels and the hardness to 50%. It’s a good idea to use a soft-edge brush, otherwise you will see a very hard line where the cloning takes place. You want it to seem as natural as possible, after all.


4. Make sure that the Aligned option is selected.


Now set a sample point in the area you want to duplicate and clone to the next area. When you select Aligned in the options bar, it means you will reuse the most current sampling point no matter how often you stop and resume painting. This is important because if it is not checked, then you’ll end up reusing the same pixels every time you paint.

5. Move the Clone Stamp tool pointer to the dark area on the left side of the butterfly. Hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) and the pointer becomes a set of cross-hairs. Click once to set that point as your sampling point. Release the Alt or Option key. Easy peasy.


6. Click and drag the Clone Stamp tool over a small area of the butterfly’s wing. As you drag the cursor, the wing will start to disappear as it is replaced with the pixels you’re sampling from. The cross-hairs that appear to the right of the Clone Stamp tool indicate the source area of the image that you are replicating as you drag. It may sound complicated but once you get to this step it will make perfect sense.


7. Release the mouse button and move the pointer to another part of the butterfly wing. The cross-hairs will maintain the same spatial relationship to the Clone Stamp tool pointer that it had when you made the first stroke. This is the beauty of clicking on the aligned option at the beginning of the process. You did do that, right?

8. You can reset the sample area anytime by performing this procedure. Simply hold down the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key and click once. You will need to do this several times to completely remove the butterfly. Don’t forget to re-size your brush as you go. Keep cloning until you have removed the side of the butterfly on the dark side of the moon tar macadam.

9. Reset the sample point and do the same thing as before on the white side until you have cloned “out” the rest of the butterfly. To finish the area where the butterfly sat, take samples above and below.


That’s it! Not so hard right? Don’t be afraid to keep re-sampling as you go on. And don’t worry. As you clone more and more, the shortcuts will begin to become second nature. Eventually it will be like riding a bike. Below, feast your eyes on the finished product.


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