Mastering Photoshop's Clone Stamp Tool
Photoshop's Clone Stamp Tool is one of Photoshop's most powerful tools. At its most basic, it simply copies (or "clones") one area of an image over another. Using this relatively simple concept, though, you can actually cover a lot of ground when it comes to editing or repairing your digital photographs.
NOTE: Although this Adobe Photoshop tutorial was written using Photoshop CS2, the Clone Stamp tool has been around since before version 3. No matter what version of Photoshop you're using, you'll find that the Clone Stamp tool behaves in pretty much the same manner as outlined in this Photoshop lesson.
Clone Stamp - The Basics
Even as of Photoshop CS2 (and even Photoshop CS3), I still believe that the Clone Stamp tool is one of the most powerful Photoshop tools available. Although it uses a fairly simple concept of copying one area in an image over another you'll quickly find that the Clone Stamp tool can be very useful in many photo editing and photo repair situations.
Some of the things that you'll find the Clone Stamp tool useful for are:
I'm sure that once you've got some hands-on experience with the Clone Stamp tool, you'll find tons of things that it can be used for.
- Removing small blemishes in photographs (small scars or pimples in portraits, for example)
- Removing objects, such as telephone wires (or even people), from photos
- Repairing tears in scanned images of old photographs
- Removing braces from a smile in portraits
- Fixing stains in scans of older photographs
- ...and tons more
Getting Started with the Clone Stamp
The Clone Stamp tool (see figure 28.1) may seem a bit mysterious in the beginning as far as novice Photoshop users are concerned.
I imagine the trouble, at least partly, is that the tool can be a little intimidating. In fact, if you simply select the Clone Stamp tool and click anywhere within your image, you'll be presented with an error message dialog box such as the one seen in figure 28.2.
NOTE: When using Photoshop CS2 or Photoshop CS3, you may sometimes get an even less informative error dialog box that simply states that there is a program error.
Let's take a look at the error message... the message says, "Could not use the clone stamp because the area to clone has not been defined (Alt-click to define a source point)."
What this message is trying to tell you is that you have not yet selected an area that the tool should use to copy from, and to do so, you should Alt-click the area that you wish to use. That sounds simply enough. Let's take a look at how that's done, and then get in a little practice using the Clone Stamp. I'll be using the image that you see in figure 28.3.
Figure 28.3 is a photograph of my Boxer puppy when she was quite young... you can easily see the potential for puppy mischief in her eyes :) The problem with this particular photograph is that the pup appears to have a leash growing out of the top of her head. This particular photo would certainly be more attractive without the leash, and the best Photoshop tool to help get rid of the leash is the Clone Stamp tool.
Using the Clone Stamp tool it will be possible to cover the leash using some of the surrounding grassy lawn. Figure 28.4 gives you an idea of what the finished image looks like once the leash has been "removed" with the Clone Stamp tool.
Although working with a high-res image is best, you can work along with the image of the Boxer pup if you'd like. If you already have Photoshop open, you can simply drag-n-drop the image from the web page into Photoshop. Alternatively, you can right-click the image and save it somewhere so that you can then open it in Photoshop.
With the image open that you want to work on, zoom-in to the area that needs attention...
NOTE: To zoom-in, select the Zoom tool near the bottom-right of the toolbar (you can press the 'Z' key to do so) and then click-and-drag around the area that you what to work on. You can see if figure 28.5 that I've zoomed-in on the area with the leash.
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Select the Clone Stamp tool (in Photoshop CS2 it's the fifth icon down on the left in the toolbar).
NOTE: The Clone Stamp tool shares its toolbar place with the Pattern Stamp tool. The Pattern Stamp tool uses a pattern as its source. To see both tools, click and hold down the stamp tool icon and choose the Clone Stamp tool from the flyout menu.
With the Clone Stamp tool selected, take a look at the available options. The options (see figure 28.6) can be found just below the main menu.
The first icon from the left enables access to any previously stored presets. Next you'll find an icon that enables you to select a brush size and hardness. You can also set the Mode, the Opacity, and the Flow. Finally, you can set the "Aligned" and "Sample All Layers" options. Between the Flow and Aligned options, you can also set the brush so that it behaves like an airbrush.
For now, we'll only be concerned with setting the brush. To follow along, though, make sure that the Aligned option has a checkmark next to it, that the Mode is set to Normal, and that the Opacity and Flow are both set to 100%.
Click the Brush icon and set the size (Master Diameter) of the brush so that it approximates the size of the object (in this case the leash) that you want to clone over. You can see, in figure 28.7, that I've set the brush to about 80 pixels and the hardness to about 50%. You can also see the size of the cursor (it's visible near the buckle of the leash) in the image, and how I've made it a little bigger than the width of the leash.
With the brush set, it's time to begin. Position the mouse near the leash, but not touching it, and hold down the ALT key. Doing so will change the appearance of the cursor as seen in figure 28.8.
Click the mouse to set the "source" area. The source area is where the image data will be copied from, i.e. where you click will be the starting point for the source.
Move the cursor over the leash and click-and-drag to copy some of the grass over the leash (see figure 28.9).
In figure 28.9 you can see that the Clone Stamp tool displays two cursors. The first starts out where you ALT-clicked and the second shows up where you start to click-and-drag. You can see that I've dragged down a little with the tool. As I did so the tool (indicated by the circular cursor) covered the leash with a copy, or "clone" of the grass to the right (from under the crosshair cursor).
Wrapping Up (for now)
There're a couple of things to note here... Firstly, I set the brush to a medium softness. The reason I did so is because the grass in the photograph is a little soft due to the focus being on the pup and not the lawn. If you set the brush too hard in a situation like this, you'll get weird edges where you use the tool. Not good as the best use of the tool leaves no trace of it having been used. Secondly, I set the brush to a size that would cover the leash with one stroke... This works well in this particular situation, and would do so as well if you were covering something like telephone lines. You may have to set a smaller brush and use multiple strokes to cover the object in other situations, though. And lastly, It may be difficult to remove the leash as you get nearer the top of the puppy's head. In this case it would be wise to make a selection around the area so that the brush only covers the leash and not the surrounding head.
I'll cover how you can do that and a whole lot more in the next lesson where we'll explore the settings not covered in this basic lesson. As well, I'll show you some of my favorite tips and techniques for using Photoshop's Clone Stamp tool.
That's it for now... Be sure to check out some of our other Photoshop tutorials, and remember kids, only use your grafX powers for good and not evil :)
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