The Clone Stamp ToolThe Clone Stamp tool is the oldest and most widely known of the cloning tools. The basic concept is that you duplicate certain portions of an image using a source, destination and brush.
Use the “Option” key (“Alt”) to set the source.
To clone out the name on the tombstone above, you would select a source that shares the texture of the area you want to replace. In this case, the area around the words provides an ample source of stone texture from which to clone.
To begin, simply click on the preferred source area while holding down the “Option” key (“Alt” on a PC). Then, with no keys held down, begin painting over the area you want to replace. The image area from the source will be transferred to the destination.
To be able to use this tool effectively, let’s look at the relevant settings.
Basic Settings: BrushBelow, you’ll find the default settings when the clone stamp is selected.
The clone stamp’s basic settings.
The first setting you’ll want to familiarize yourself with is for the brush. Photoshop does not restrict cloning to a basic default brush. Instead, it allows you to use any brush you want, allowing you to create an unlimited number of effects. In the example above, and in most cases in fact, a small to medium-sized round soft brush gives the best result.
A hard brush creates noticeable seams.
As you can see, a hard brush often creates visible edges along the path of the clone. The transition is much smoother on the left side, where a soft brush was used. Both sides suffer from noticeable replication, but this was intentional to exaggerate the cloned area. We’ll discuss how to avoid this later.
As stated, while a soft round brush is recommended for basic cloning, a number of interesting effects can be created using alternate brushes. For instance, below I’ve used a scatter brush shaped like a leaf to add some visual interest to the photo.
Use a scatter brush to create interesting particle effects.
Experiment with the opacity, blending mode and brush flow for an even wider variety of results.
Basic Settings: SampleUnder the “Sample” menu are three options: Current Layer, Current & Below and All Layers. These options affect the area you are sourcing. Here’s a visual illustration of how each mode works:
As you can see, with Current Layer selected, the clone stamp ignores pixel data contained in any other layer. Conversely, All Layers ignores all layer distinction and clones any visible pixels in the document (invisible layers will be ignored). Finally, Current & Below samples pixels from the selected layer and any visible layers behind it.
Basic Settings: Adjustment LayersThe final basic setting (the circle with a diagonal line through it) lets you decide whether the clone stamp tool should sample adjustment layers when cloning. Adjustment layers, such as Hue/Saturation and Levels, are meant to be a non-destructive way to change the appearance of layers. So, you can make drastic changes to a layer or group of layers without destroying the original pixels.
Because of this, turning on Ignore Adjustment Layers When Cloning is almost always a good idea. This allows you to clone the original image, which can then be affected by an ever-changeable adjustment layer. If you do not choose to ignore the adjustment layer, the adjustment becomes permanent in the cloned areas.
In the layer set-up below, turning on Sample All Layers would by default clone pixels from both the background layer and the adjustment layer in the foreground. Turning on Ignore Adjustment Layers prevents this.
You can choose to ignore adjustment layers when cloning.
Type J to bring up the Spot Healing Brush.
The Spot Healing Brush is by far the simplest cloning tool in Photoshop. With little to no experience, you can repair small areas of an image. The secret to using the tool is in the name: Spot Healing. The tool is intended not for large areas of replacement, but rather to remove little unwanted spots, such as a scratch on an old photograph or a mole on a person’s face.
To use the tool, simply hover over the area you want to replace and click once. Photoshop does all the work by examining the pixel data around the spot and seamlessly integrating the data into the destination.
The Spot Healing Brush is perfect for repairing old photographs.
As you can see above, the tool does a remarkable job of not leaving behind any noticeable artifacts or repeating patterns. The trick is to go slowly and work on very small portions of the image. Select a spot to fix, and use a brush that’s only slightly bigger than the selected imperfection. The larger the brush, the more likely you are to clone unwanted portions of the surrounding area, and the more noticeable the repetition of pixels will be.
Use a brush slightly bigger than the target spot.
The Healing BrushThe Healing Brush tool, located under the Spot Healing Brush tool, is very similar to the Clone Stamp tool. To begin, Option + click (Alt + click on a PC) to select your source, and then carefully paint over the destination to transfer the pixels. The Healing Brush performs this operation with more built-in intelligence than the Clone Stamp.
As with the Spot Healing Brush, the Healing Brush attempts to automatically blend in the cloned pixels with the environment around it.
The Healing Brush tool automatically blends the source with the destination.
As you can see, using the Clone Stamp to clone the puppy’s eye results in a straight copy of the pixels, while the Healing Brush does a much better job of blending with the background.
This built-in intelligence proves extremely helpful when cloning a subject with diverse colors, textures and lighting conditions. Using the Clone Stamp in these situations can leave you with a lot of noticeably patchy spots that really stand out from the surrounding area.
The Healing Brush Tool makes it easy to clone visually complicated areas.
The photograph above is a good example of a subject with a fairly complicated surface. Using the Clone Stamp tool would have made it quite difficult to paint over the cracked areas while retaining the integrity of the stained stone. Much of the discoloration would have been sacrificed as you sourced smoother areas to erase the cracks. However, the Healing Brush was able to effectively replace the cracked areas with smoother areas, while sampling from the surrounding area to replicate the stains.
The Patch ToolThe final healing tool we’ll examine is the Patch tool, which can be found under the Healing Brush tool, as seen below.
Tip: hit Shift + J to cycle between the tools in the fly-out menu.
The cloning tools we’ve examined so far are best when used meticulously on small portions of an image. By contrast, the Patch tool is the best way to clone large, relatively uniform areas. As with the other healing tools, the Patch tool not only performs a straight clone but attempts to blend in the edge of the selected area with the target environment.
To use the Patch tool, either make a selection with any of the selection tools, or simply select an area with the Patch tool’s built-in lasso. There are two modes to choose from for the behavior of the patch: “Source” and “Destination” (found in the menu bar above the document area).
Source ModeWith the source mode selected, first select the area of the image you want to replace, and then drag that selection to the area you want to source. For instance, to eliminate the golf ball in the image below, you would first select the area around the golf ball, and then drag that selection around to find the best source.
In source mode, first select the area you want to replace.
As you drag the selection around to find a suitable source, watch the destination (i.e. your originally selected area) for a preview of what the source pixels will look like in that area. Keep in mind that this preview is a straight clone without any blending (the final image will look much better). Release the selection to see the actual result.
The Patch tool’s result.
As you can see, it does a pretty impressive job of blending the source and destination pixels all on its own. But going over areas that need improvement with the Healing Brush is good practice.
To be continued: Part II