Clone Stamp Exercise

The Clone Stamp tool is central to Adobe Photoshop‘s rise to world domination. It was one of the first gizmo’s that I played with and is still, after many years using Photoshop, unsurpassed for it’s ease of use and excellent results.

For those of you who haven’t a clue of what I am talking about – in short, the Clone Stamp allows you to ‘paint’ pixel information from one part of an image to another. This can be used for many things including the removal of blemishes and building up of missing regions within a photograph.

Although anyone can get using the Clone Stamp within minutes of opening Adobe Photoshop for the first time, to achieve a believable level of ‘cloning’ can be tricky. In this tutorial, you will learn the do’s and don’ts in the application of this excellent tool.

Clone Stamp Tutorial Image

Clone Stamp Tutorial Image

 Clone Stamp Basics

Open up your image to be repaired. In the above example, I will remove the white scratch that runs from the bottom left to the top right of the image.

  1. Clone Stamp Select the Clone Stamp from Photoshop’s tool palette.
  2. To get the best results, it is always a good idea to zoom into your image (or canvas) to at least 100% so that you can work in closer detail. I wouldn’t bother zooming in any further than 200%. Shortcut: Zoom in – (CTRL/APPLE +)  Zoom out – (CTRL/APPLE -).
  3. bottom-left-cloneMove to the region within your image that you would like to start Cloning. I will start at the bottom left corner.
  4. Your Clone Stamp tool cursor should look like a circle. This is an example of a ‘Brush’ – the effects of the Clone Stamp will be confined to within the Brush’s radius. Your Brush may be smaller, much larger, or even too big/small to see. To alter the size of your Brush, simple right-click (Alt-Click) on your image to bring up the Brush controller. You can change the brushes size and softness by dragging the bars. Tip: Always use a soft brush when cloning. Make sure that you choose one of the simple set (the 10th one along is a good start). Option Bar: Keep ‘Mode’ on ‘Normal’ and  ‘Opacity’ on 100% for best results.
Aligned

Aligned

  1. Now we are going to ‘sample’ a good region of pixels to use as a ‘Source’ and paint them over the white scratch to conceal it. To do this, find a region near by that is of a similar colour, texture and tone, hold down the Alt key (Option key – Mac) and single (left click – PC) click over it. Time to paint. Take your cursor over to the affected area and (left click – PC) click and drag it around to paint out the scratch. Notice how a cross-hair appears and follows your cursor in alignment from the good region.

So, you might now think that this is all you need to know. But, anyone can do this, which just leaves me to impart advice with regards to technique. To use the Clone Stamp effectively, try adhering to the following guidelines.

Fig.1 Echoing

Fig.1 Echoing

  • Keep on changing your ‘Source’ selection: Have your finger hovering over the Alt/Option key at all times, ready to change Source every second or so. If you don’t do this, you will end up with an unpleasant ‘echoing’ effect – a tell tail sign of poor cloning (See fig.1). I usually sample from multiple directions, following a north, south, east, west pattern to avoid repetitions in texture.
  • Sample wide and far: Don’t take your source material from areas too close to your damaged area. Again, this will result in echoing. I always ensure at that the distance between the Source and the damaged region is at least twice the width of my current Brush.
  • Brush Size: Brush size is very important. Larger Brushes are great for working on soft areas such as skies, grass covered fields and any region with simple textures. Smaller Brushes are useful for repairing detailed areas. Get accustomed to shifting between Brush sizes. You can go this quickly by using ‘{‘ to decrease and ‘}’ to increase the radius.
Retouching example

Finished Retouched Example

The Clone Stamp tool is indispensable to anyone interested in retouching, preparing for print or image manipulation. You really can’t do much without it. So if you shun all other tutorials, don’t turn your back on this one. Practice will make a Photoshop specialist out of you.

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