Jun 01, 2014

How to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop

The Importance of the Clone Stamp Tool

The Clone Stamp Tool is one of the most important Tools that Photoshop has to offer. It allows you to copy areas of an image and i very useful for getting rid of Distractions or Skin blemishes.

In this episode we show you how to master the clone stamp tool in Photoshop. You will learn how to navigate the settings and preferences for the Tool. We also show you how we use the tool through several examples.

Using the Clone Source Dialog

The Clone Source Dialog is available by going to Window > Clone Source. Here you will see options for Clone Source, Transformation options, as well as Overlay options. We go through each of these options and show you how we set up our Clone Stamp Tool.

Photoshop has the “Show Overlay” option checked by default however we prefer to keep it unchecked. The Overlay can get in the way and is always available by hitting OPTN+SHIFT.

Adjusting Clone Stamp Selections

After using the Clone Stamp Tool to cover the lapel microphone there are still some Adjustments that need to be made. It is best to use the Clone Stamp tool on New Layers so you can Transform the selection afterwards. To do this hit CMD+T then right click on the layer. You will be able to rotate, skew, Transform and Warp the selection so it fits with the image better.

After getting the Clone Stamp selection in place we use a great technique to blend Exposures. Some areas of this layer need to be lighter and some need to be darker and we accomplish this using a combination of a Brush Tool set to blending modeSoft Light” and the “Lock Transparency” Option in the layer dialog; This will allow you to only paint over non-Transparent pixels.

We then paint Black and White over the layer to brighten or Darken it accordingly.

Use Clone Stamp with Different Brushes

Many people think that you are limited to a soft round Brush when it comes to the Clone Stamp tool. The Clone Stamp tool can use any custom Brush the regular Brush Tool can use. Try adjusting your Brush shape or creating your own custom brush to best complete your project.

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  • user image
    Todd Bielby

    Great tut Aaron but some other things I’m having trouble with is filling in complicated backgrounds like lots of grass or flowers that are in focus. Trying to fill in bare spots in the ground.

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    Natasha Heredia

    AAAAGHGGGHHHHHH!!!!! Where have you been all my life!! So many frustrating hours I have spent with the Clone Stamp tool… This is perfect info for me, thank you!

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    Abhay Rao

    absolutely brilliant!!!! Great Work Aaron & Team!! Can finally stop using spot healing with content aware & make use of the clone stamp tool. Thank you!

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    Tobe Hampton

    And I thought I knew what I was doing! Thanks again, Aaron!

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    Shaun Satter

    I have a potentially silly question: I have just started using an Intuos tablet and I am wondering how you are changing the brush size so easily. I have been having to click on the tool itself, just taking more time.

    • user image

      Just hold ctrl+alt (or option for Mac) and click and hold. Swipe left and right for the brush size and up and down for the hardness. Works for every tool similar to the brush (like eraser, clone stamp etc).

    • user image

      Nils should have added to use the Right click. To program an Intuos tablet button, open the tablet properties settings. Add Photoshop as an Application and then choose it. Now choose the Functions so you see the buttons available. To program one button for this adjustment, Click and choose Modifiers > Define Modifier and check the boxes for Alt and Right Click. This is all in the tablet Properties set up, not Photoshop. To use this function, press the tablet button that you programmed and hold the pen above the tablet but not in contact. When you move the pen you can adjust the size and hardness while the button is held down.

  • user image

    I got a tiny question- What is the difference between the Clone stamp and healing brush via Replace option.
    seems like it does the same effect..
    Thank you for your time

    • user image

      The healing tool samples the area surrounding the spot to be healed and replaces the pixels. the clone tool will transfer the pixels from the source area (using the Alt key) to any new areas where you paint it in. Very different use. Use the healing tool for removing blemishes or dust spots, not for detail. In some cases one can replace the other.

      • user image

        Yes you are right, but what I meant to say is that when you choose healing brush tool you can choose options – normal, replace, etc..
        healing brush tool + replace = clone stamp tool… looks like they’re doing the same

  • user image

    O.K., what did I do wrong? I tried practicing some of your techniques and now my clone tool is going crazy. After I go to sample an area and move the circle to the new location to be corrected, the WHOLE LAYER moves with it, just as if I had hit the move button. I have quit Photoshop and tried again. Same thing. I have restarted my computer and tried again. I still happened. Now, I can’t use my clone tool? I’m using a Mac. Got any suggestions?

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      William Parenio

      Go back to 4:10 look at the clone stamp dialog box, make sure you have CLIPPED checked. This will prevent the layer from moving around as you move the circle.

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    Dale Hardin

    Have been using Elements and just transferred to CC. This tutorial helped me see there are many variations to the tool that I’ve not used before. Thank you.

  • user image

    Thanks, Aaron, for the excellent tutorials. I like the name you chose for your business… but I’m glad I didn’t use that same logic for the name for my business… I do photo art… 🙂 photoarticulations, which I made up, is sooooo much better and classier than “phART”!!! 🙂

  • user image

    I really really like your tutorials. Only thing is for this one I’m kind of stuck on 8:32, I don’t understand how to get out of the clone stamp tool to the ”warping” thing. I don’t get how you did it, I mean what am I supposed to click on ? Thanks anyway

    • user image

      Hi Rachel,

      You have to 1st right click on your newly edited layer in the layers panel and convert it to a smart object.
      Activate again the free transform command CTRL+T.
      Then right click on the stamped edit and you should now be able to see the warp comand active. (it’s greyed out if you don’t convert the layer to smart object)

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    Trevor Coultart

    “Transparency lock” is new to me. From what you demonstrate here, it seems pretty much to do the same thing I’ve seen you do with a clipping mask in other tutorials. What’s the difference?

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    Every time I use the clone stamp I have a circle where I’m trying to cover and it doesn’t look natural. Your videos are amazing but you make it look so easy and it’s not that easy. We’ll not for someone who just opened PS a couple days ago for the first time ever 🙁 hopefully one day I’ll get it :-/

    • user image

      For that you might want to try enlarging the brush size of the clone stamp to adequately and completely cover the area you want to use it on. The after-circle just came about since you didn’t completely cover the area, so there are still small parts that are unaffected by the clone stamp.

  • user image

    Hi guys, i have 1 layer for picture then when i create new empty layer and try to clone the picture.. my clone stamp does not copy it to new layer. help me n ty:)

    • user image

      Hi there Leo! Try double checking that you are on the correct layer while working (clone on your new, top layer). Also, the box on the top panel of Photoshop should not be on “current layer,” so that might solve the issue as well. Try selecting “current and below.”

  • user image

    I am trying to take some words off of a logo to replace with a different logo, i found the cloning tool and thought this would solve my problem, but when i take the brush to brush over the letters i do not want it actually is coloring in the whole logo, not just the background that i want so i can replace the top with a png logo? Why is this happening, i just want a small section of the background. Also i am very new to photoshop, so im unfamiliar with some of tools.

  • user image

    Really loved this tutorial! The pace and delivery was fantastic. Also really appreciated you showing the same technique twice (when doing the “Lock Transparency” on the microphone then a smaller spot beneath).

    Looking forward to learning some more!

  • user image

    Is it possible to do such a professional job of photoshopping that it is impossible to tell?

  • user image

    Thanks so much for this amazing tutorial. It was quick and straight to the point.

  • user image

    Aaron has such a great camera personality and clarity of speech he could probably teach ANYTHING! Great job!

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    theresa martin

    Love your videos. New to photoshop. I have a class at Armstrong Atlantic and having an exam tomorrow, this has been extremely helpful. Thank you.

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    Ternot MacRenato

    Love it. Learned a great deal and you keep it light and humorous. Thanks

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    Hello Mr.Aron, First of all i really want to thank you for actually making Photoshop fun to learn 🙂 Your teaching is absolutely cool and crystal clear.. I fell in love with Photoshop as i keep learning a new thing from you.. You are a teacher and to many more PS enthusiasts across the globe 🙂

    I landed up to your tutorials while searching for Photoshop basics..
    Keep doing the good work.. Hats off to your knowledge 🙂

  • user image

    Hey 🙂

    Could you please tell me how i could select a particular area in clone stamp tool.. Every time i paint with clone stamp, whole image is appearing 🙁

  • user image

    When I clone stamp my image it somehow replicates the entire image. I don’t know where i’ve gone wrong. HELP PLEASE!

  • user image

    Hi I would Like to Know if there is a tool I can use to rub out Bits of my artwork without wrecking the background of my artwork. I have Photoshop 15 cc PLUS Corel products. Pixlr has tool and its called touch up, it was good the first couple of goes but it can’t cope with the amount of fine detail I need to remove from the artwork before it has a heart attack and freezes up. I,m only a novice, so please could you advise me. I like your tutorials your very easy to follow and understand, though Its hard to remember it all rather slow going for me. Anyway I hope you can help me

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    Chanchal malhotra

    When ever i m using right click of mouse such size and hardness window is seen and i cant clone stamp tool

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Master the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop

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  • user image

    Thank you so much! I am so new at photoshop and I normally have a knack for computer programs but this one I have to admit has been very challenging for me. You are helping me so much! Thank you !

    • stuschaffner

      Awesome for a first try! I wish Aaron would publish more about clone stamping on natural images. I would suggest you work on a second clone stamping of your first attempt. The sky is great, but you now need to clean up the road. The texture and light on the road make such important leading lines that you need to be very careful to get them just right. I’m just trying to figure out some of these things myself, so I’d rather not say much more than to observe that the clone source you want is in the original picture. It will have to be transformed if you want to clone from the nearby parts of the road to the farther ones. Both size and tone need to be adjusted. Aaron gives one way to do that. Also, I sometimes add texture to processed areas. Good luck!