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Photoshop 101 - The Clone Tool

The clone tool allows you to retouch images and remove blemishes. Understanding how it works will allow you to adapt images to your requirements.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Table of contents

Cloning parts of images

The clone tool allows you to select an area of a photo and use it to paint with as if it were a brush. This allows you to correct blemishes in a photo or to remove sections of a photo entirely. To do this hold ALT and click to define the target area. You will the icon change to a target icon.

Tip: For many tasks the Healing Brush is a better option. Instead of copying a selection exactly it merges the selection with the pixels already on the page.

To select the clone tool hit S on the keyboard. In order to use the tool you must first define a selection. This provides Photoshop with a reference of where you want to start. You should also choose an appropriate brush. If you want to clone a large area choose a large brush. If you are doing very precise work you should choose a small brush.

In the video below we are going to remove one of the birds. The photo is by eMotionBlogster. Watch as the selection point is defined and then the brush strokes removes the bird whilst keeping the correct sky colours behind it. As you use the clone tool you may need to resample as you go - you will see this happening in the video as the cursor turns to a target icon.

Photoshop 101 - The Clone Tool from George Ornbo on Vimeo.

You might also wish to try this technique with the Healing Brush Tool. It may save you time. Which tool you use for this purpose is personal choice.

Clone Tool Options

There are a large number of options available to you with the Clone Tool:

Pattern Stamp Tool

The pattern stamp tool lets you paint with a pattern. To define a pattern use the Marquee Tool to define the area that you want to use. Then select the Pattern Stamp Tool. Then go to Edit > Define Pattern. You will be asked to give your Pattern a name. In the toolbar at the top you will see an additional option box with Pattern in. As before you have the same options. This tool is useful in applying textured overlays to images. Try lowering the opacity and painting over an image to give it a grainy effect.

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