Ever since its early development, Photoshop has been beloved by photo editors for its high-quality editing tools. The developers of Photoshop have added dozens of new tools to the software since its launch over thirty years ago but the Clone Stamp Tool is one that has stood the test of time.

The clone tool removes unwanted elements, retouches quickly and can be used in certain circumstances where other tools like the Healing Brush won’t be able to do the job. You might want to learn more about the Clone Stamp Tool because you’re on a mission to learn all the fundamentals of Photoshop. Just like learning how to remove a background in Photoshop, discovering the power of the Clone Stamp Tool is a skill that will help improve your overall photo editing skills. 

What Is the Clone Stamp Tool in Photoshop?

Two black and white vintage photographs of an oval, metal sign on a wooden post sit side by side. The photo has multiple dust spots and scratches that obscure the lettering.
Two black and white vintage photographs of an oval, metal sign on a wooden post sit side by side. The photo doesn’t have these imperfections anymore.

Before more modern Photoshop tools were invented, photo editors used the Clone Stamp Tool to retouch photos, restore damaged photographs, and remove objects in Photoshop. Now with tools like the Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush, which often do the job just as well or better, the Clone Stamp Tool isn’t used as often. But because it is a completely manual tool that doesn’t blend pixels together or smartly select an area, it is a great choice for more complex editing where you can’t trust the computer to do the job and the human eye works best. 

The Clone Stamp Tool works by copying, or cloning, pixels from one area of an image and applying them to another. When you access the Clone Stamp Tool, which you can find in your toolbar, a cursor will appear, revealing the size of the area you’re cloning. You’ll click once to clone the desired pixels and click again to copy those sampled pixels to another part of your image. You can improve your images manually, down to the pixel, which is why it is often used when manual retouching control is required. 

You can use Photoshop to mirror an image or create a graphic, but if you’re using Photoshop mostly for photo retouching, the Clone Stamp Tool is a good tool to have in your arsenal. Even if you don’t have much Photoshop experience already, knowing how to complete basic tasks like how to resize images in Photoshop means you’re already on your way to being an expert at using the Clone Stamp Tool. 

How to Use the Clone Stamp Tool?

There are a few extra tips to keep in mind when using the Clone Stamp Tool. First, if you’re working on really minute details, it can be helpful to zoom in to your photo to ensure you’re seamlessly removing unwanted objects. Next, you’ll want to be sure you’re varying your sample point. Copying from the same point over and over can cause an unnatural final render. It’s important to select sample points that closely resemble the area you’re working on. 

1. Open It

A black and white vintage photo of an old iron sign that reads “Walberswick” is open in Photoshop. The cursor is hovering over the toolbar to the left of the screen and a menu is open with two options: Clone Stamp Tool and Pattern Stamp Tool. 
Still from Skillshare class Beginner’s Guide to Retouching Old Photographs in Adobe Photoshop by Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-BrandYou can select the Clone Stamp Tool from the toolbar on the left side of your screen. 

You can open the Clone Stamp Tool within the toolbar. You can bring up the crosshairs by selecting the Option key (on Mac) or the Alt key (on Windows). 

2. Sample It

Click the area you want to use as your sample point with your cursor. This will copy the pixels within your cursor. 

3. Clone It

Now that you have your sample you can clone it as needed. If your current brush isn’t giving you the results you desire, you can also adjust your brush type, brush size, opacity, blending mode and more to get the perfect final look. 

4. Adjust It

If your sample isn’t quite right, you can change it as needed. If you’re editing an area with many different colored, saturated or lit pixels, you might need to adjust your sample very often. 

When Should I Use the Photoshop Clone Tool?

Photoshop is open to a photo with a variety of red and orange objects on a white background. Pens, an expo marker and an Altoids box are all among the varied objects. A very light white mark can be seen above the top right corner of the Altoids box. 
Still from Skillshare class 5 Advanced Adobe Photoshop Tips: Photo Editing Beyond Lightroom by Tabitha ParkWhen the Healing Brush couldn’t accurately remove an imperfection in this photo, the editor used the Clone Stamp Tool. You can see her making an adjustment above the top right corner of the Altoids box. 

There are a lot of ways to use the Clone Stamp Tool, but before you get into them all it’s important to remember that you cannot do any pixel-level editing when using Smart Objects in Adobe Photoshop, which includes tools like Clone Stamp, Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush.

You should also know that the Healing Brush and Spot Healing Brush only work for the removal of objects of a certain size and complexity, but the Clone Stamp can be used to remove anything you’d like to get rid of. You can use the Clone Stamp to:

1. Take manual retouching control

With the Clone Stamp Tool you have to manually select the pixels you want to copy and place on another area of your image. If the computer isn’t providing a high quality automatic selection with the Healing Brush, try using the Clone Stamp Tool.  

2. Paint in precise or broad strokes

You can also adjust your brush strokes as needed. There are over fifty brushes you can paint with when using the Clone Stamp tool, which you can choose based on your specific project. 

Photoshop is open to a vintage black and white photo of an old, iron sign. The Clone Stamp tool brush settings are open to the left of the screen and over fifty brush types are visible.
Still from Skillshare class Beginner’s Guide to Retouching Old Photographs in Adobe Photoshop by Evgeniya & Dominic Righini-BrandWith over fifty brush types to choose from, you can try as many brushes as you need to make clear and high-quality edits to your photos. 

You might use a fine brush to remove dust from an old photograph or a thicker brush to remove a pedestrian from a street crossing. 

3. Play with flow and opacity

Besides being able to choose your brush, you can also select the flow and opacity you’ll need for your project. Use these tools to better match your sampled selection to the area you want to copy it to. 

4. Duplication and cloning

The Clone Stamp Tool can be used to duplicate entire elements. You can use it to create symmetrical images, extend a background or add more trees to a nature-filled scene. 

5. Get it out of the frame

If you want to completely remove something from the frame, like unwanted tourists in your family photo album of a trip to Paris, you can use the Clone Stamp Tool. 

Amplify Your Photoshop Expertise

Now that you know why and how you can use the Clone Stamp Tool, you’re one step closer to learning how to professionally use Photoshop. If you’re learning Photoshop just for fun, you can spend the next few weeks solidifying your Clone Stamp Tool skills or adding new skills to your repertoire like learning how to feather edges in Photoshop. For further guidance, Skillshare has the best class selection for beginners and professionals looking to enhance their Photoshop knowledge.

Written By

Calli Zarpas

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