The Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop

EVER WANTED TO GIVE YOUR KID brother three eyes? Stick an extra nose on the side of his face? What you need is the clone stamp tool.

The clone stamp tool is an old favorite of photographers. It is perhaps the most used, and often abused tool in the Adobe Photoshop toolbar.

What the clone stamp tool does, is makes an exact replica of a certain amount of pixels from one area of an image, and adds it to another part of the image.

This has tremendous applications.

First, it can be used for other-worldly effects, such as cloning an element into an image multiple times, as you can see in the image on the right, but second, it can also be used for repairing of images, removing dust spots caused by dirt on the censor, or cracks in old scanned photographs. Then it can also be used in portrait retouching, for removing wrinkles or skin blemishes, and too many more to mention.

Using the Clone Stamp Tool

To use the Clone Stamp Tool, first select it from the Toolbar. It may be hidden under the Pattern Stamp Tool, which does a different job entirely, and in this case you will have to hold down the mouse button before a selection menu appears. You can also select it by pressing S on the keyboard.

After you have selected the Clone Stamp Tool, you must select an area to be cloned. You do this by holding down the Alt key on PC or the Apple key on Mac while clicking on the area you want to select.

Let go of the key, move the mouse, and click and drag over another area of the image, you should now see pixels from the first area being copied into the second area.

Once you have selected the Clone Stamp Tool, the Tool Options Bar, at the top of the workspace, will look like this.

Using the Tool Options Bar, you can manipulate the way the Clone Stamp Tool will interact with the image.

Starting from the right, the first button allows you to select whether adjustment layers should be taken into account when cloning.

The drop down menu on the right allows you to select which levels are taken into consideration when cloning. Your options are using just the currently selected layer, the currently selected layer and all layers underneath and finally, all layers.

The next checkbox, marked aligned, allows you to manipulate what happens in between clicks of the clone stamp tool. If you have this box ticked, each time you let go of the mouse button while cloning, the area from which you are cloning will default back to the one you first selected. This is very handy if you need to clone from a very small area.

With the opacity set lower, you will also be able to paint with semi-transparent pixels, but the difference is that repeated passes will not darken the cloned pixels. To darken cloned pixels you will have to let go of the mouse button in between passes.

The Mode drop down menu allows you to select how the cloned pixels will interact with those below them, similarly to how it works on layers. More on this in a future feature.

The brush button allows you to change how large or how soft the brush is which you use to paint. By changing the brush size, you can change how many pixels are cloned for a single click. By adjusting the softness of the brush, you are in effect setting the transparency of the edges of the brush. A brush with a soft edge will often work better for repair and retouching work while a hard edge is better for copying whole objects. You can also change the shape and jitter of the brush, plus all the other features regularly associated with brushes.

Finally the presets button allows you to save your current brush settings, or load settings which you have previously saved.

Note: This site is not affiliated with Adobe or the Photoshop brand. A link to the official Adobe website can be found below.

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