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Make the perfect photo with the Clone Stamp tool

Added on Friday 12th of February 2010 10:07 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3/CS4

Operating Systems:

Microsoft Windows, Macintosh


Not having the right image is annoying. But having one that is just short of perfect is downright exasperating. Don’t worry; we’ll show you how to use multiple images and the Clone Stamp tool to come up with the right image while salvaging your peace of mind.


To show you how to add content to a lacking image, we’ll:

     Review the functions of the Clone Stamp tool so you know how it works.

     Examine ways to use the tool to get the most out of its retouching capabilities.  

     Add missing image areas to an image to make it perfect for our needs.


If you work with publications that use images, you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where an article or story begs for a photo, but you don’t have a suitable shot. If you could only combine a couple images that you have on hand, you’d be golden. You might need to use a building standing in a mud lot and combine that shot with a lawn of beautiful green grass. Or, perhaps it’s a canoe in a backyard you want to merge with a lake at dawn, as shown in Figure A. We’re going to use Photoshop’s Clone Stamp tool to show you how it sometimes takes two okay images to make one really good one.





Rediscover the Clone Stamp tool

Photoshop includes a number of great retouching tools, most notably the Clone Stamp tool. Let’s take a few moments to review how it works. To follow along using our example, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article. Then, extract the file early_mist.jpg. (Image provided by Jim Whitcomb.) To learn more about how to adjust the Clone Stamp tool, read the companion article “Set the Clone Stamp tool options properly for best results” found in this issue.


Paint with the Clone Stamp tool

To paint with the Clone Stamp tool, you stroke an area the same way you would with any other paint tool. Let’s open our example and see how it works on an image.

1.       Launch Photoshop and open early_mist.jpg. When viewed casually, nothing looks wrong with the photo. But upon closer viewing, as shown in Figure B, a number of radio towers appear faintly in the background.




2.      Choose the Clone Stamp tool from the Tools panel.

3.      To get in closer to your subject, select the Zoom tool from the Tools panel and increase your viewing magnification to about 200%.

4.      Choose the Clone Stamp tool from the Tools panel, and then choose the Soft Round 13 pixel brush from the Brush Preset Picker.


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