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Mastering the Photoshop Clone Tool
Make it disappear!
The Photoshop clone tool is one of the most popular and useful features of Photoshop.
Have you ever taken pictures where a few details kind of ruin the overall effect? A great portrait shot with spots and blemishes on the subject's face; Telephone wires slicing through a natural landscape; A group picture with a random guy strolling into the background!
There are any number of uses for the clone tool, making this one of the most important adobe Photoshop tricks to get the hang of.Fortunately, there's nothing to it. I think it's fair to say that there are broadly 2 kinds of uses for the Photoshop clone tool, with limitless applications.
The first is to zap away isolated little errors or blemishes in a photo - the like of dust specks from the camera's image sensor, a small bird in the sky or a logo on someone's shirt.
The second use is to deal with bigger problems: To carefully erase a whole person from a scene or to get rid of a telephone wire that stretches right across a picture, for instance. Perhaps even to restore a scanned old family photograph to its former quality. These kind of things take a little more time and effort, but the simple processes remain the same.
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Basics of the Photoshop clone tool
- The Photoshop clone tool, or 'clone stamp', tool is located with the other easily accessed tools in the left hand toolbar of the 'Editor' workspace.
- The clone stamp tool works by enabling you to copy, or 'sample', pixels from one area of your photo and transfer, or stamp, them on to another.
- To copy, or sample, pixels, select the clone stamp tool and position it over a part of your photo that can be used to replace the problem area. Hold down the 'Alt' key - turning the cursor into a target symbol - and left click. To transfer these pixels, move the cursor over the problem area and left click.
- Before using the Photoshop clone tool, zoom in very close to the relevant area, so that you can work carefully to make a seamless correction.
- You will need to adjust the brush size according to the size of the area being corrected. Either do this via the drop down menu in the top right, above the toolbar, or by pressing the right square bracket to increase its size and the left square bracket to decrease it.
- It is almost always better to use a soft edged brush with the clone stamp tool. Again, this can be done by using the same drop down menu, or by holding shift and pressing the left square bracket to soften the edge, and the right square bracket to harden the edge.
- When transferring copied pixels to the areas that you are erasing, don't drag the cursor across the image in a long stroke. This will cause an artificial pattern to form. The clone stamp tool should instead be used with single clicks, dabbing the replacement pixels down one lot at a time. A soft edged brush ensures the result remains smooth.
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Using the Photoshop clone tool for small corrections
It's really useful to know how to photoshop little irritating marks or objects away in a matter of seconds. Using the Photoshop clone tool to see off these faults - skin blemishes, distracting background items and so on - is one of the Photoshop essentials and a Photoshop trick that you will use time and again.
As per the process outlined above, simply zoom in close to the relevant area, select a suitable brush size and soften the edge ('shift' + '[' ), copy pixels close to the fault and stamp them over it in one click. Repeat if necessary, making sure the opacity of the brush is set to 100%.
That's it. If you've been wondering how to use Photoshop actions to correct your photos and suspected that there was a long complex process involved - think again. The Photoshop clone tool is as simple as it is powerful.
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Using the Photoshop clone tool for larger corrections
So you know how to photoshop little faults away, but what about bigger problems? What about things like a telephone wire that cut right across an entire photo? Well, there are no magic tricks, it just takes really careful use of the clone stamp tool. You will be amazed how such a simple tool can transform images completely with a bit of careful work.
When erasing larger objects it is doubly important to zoom in closely, because the increased number of 'stamps' needed to paste over an area can make for a less seamless adjustment. It is also imperative to use a really soft edged brush to blend all of the stamped on pixels together nicely.
Another top tip: Do not just sample one lot of pixels and set about stamping them dozens of times over a large object to erase it. The result will appear artificial. Instead select pixels from all around the object to stamp on, which will make for a more professional job.
So there's a quick guide to the Photoshop clone stamp tool. If you've not yet used it, I'm sure you will become very familiar with it in time!
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I hope this Photoshop guide was helpful - you can refer back to it whilst working on an image. It's one of the most useful Adobe Photoshop tricks, so well worth mastering.
If you're on the lookout for other Photoshop tutorials for beginners, checkout out this simple Photoshop guide to sharpening - there are plenty of pitfalls to avoid!
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