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Photoshop's Clone tool explained

Barry Beckham shows us how to use Photoshop's Clone tool

|  Adobe Photoshop
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Words & Pictures Barry Beckham/David Rowley

The clone tool or rubber stamp tool is one that you will use often and it will pay to spend just a few minutes practice with this tool to evaluate it's power.

By holding down the alt key Photoshop will allow you to sample a small part of your picture and transfer those pixels elsewhere in your image. Generally you will be using a small brush size for your cloning work so the operation is best done with your image greatly enlarged.

The image above is one straight from a digital camera. With the image greatly enlarged sample and area just to the left of the lady in the centre of the picture as shown below.

Use the clone tool in a dabbing motion rather than a painting stroke. If you use a painting stroke there is a danger that you end up cloning from a cloned area and a snake skin like pattern will show on your picture. To overcome this it pays to vary the clone source too.

Don't sample one area and use that for the hole operation. While this may be fine with little spots and blemishes it rarely works as well with larger subjects like our lady. Sample from different areas around your subject and don't forget other tell tale signs like the shadow from this women on the beach.

You can see from the example below that using the techniques described the lady has been removed without leaving any trace. Unfortunately here we have just made a baby an orphan.

You can vary the brush size with the clone tool and you will find the option for that at the top of your page in Photoshop 6 or by double clicking the clone icon in Photoshop 5. Experiment with both hard edged and soft edged brushed, but you will probably find a soft edged brush is the better choice.

Tip You can scroll through your brushes using the left and right bracket keys just to the right of the O and P keys.

With a little care you will be able to carry out considerable changes to your image or repair a damaged photo using these techniques as we have shown below.

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