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How to Use the Clone Stamp in Photoshop

Published: 01/06/2022

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Distractions and imperfections can lower the quality of your real estate photos. Fortunately, you can remove them using the Photoshop clone stamp tool. Learning how to clone on photoshop will help you duplicate objects and remove defects on an image, be it a glare, unwanted blemish, or dust spots.

How to Use the Clone Stamp in Photoshop

Cloning is effective when you want to duplicate the exact color and detail from one area of an image to another. Use the following steps to take pixels from one area of an image and place them on the unwanted region using the Photoshop clone tool.

Open the Image in Photoshop

The first step is to open the image you want to edit in Photoshop. Go to File and then choose Open to open the browser window. Search for the image in your storage and then click Open. You can also use the shortcut keys Ctrl + O on Windows or Command + O if using a Mac OS. 

Pick the Clone Stamp Tool

Since you'll want to make your photo editing non-destructive, it's advisable to duplicate the original layer. Navigate to Layer, select Layer, and then choose Duplicate Layer. You can also right-click the original layer on the layers panel and then choose Duplicate

You can still use the shortcut keys Ctrl + J if using a Windows PC or Command + J if using a Mac. With the duplicate layer selected, zoom into the area you want to work on to make the image clearer and easier to see. You can locate the clone clamp between brushes in the tool panel on the left side.

If you cannot locate it in your toolbar, you can use the shortcut key S on both Windows PC and Mac OS. After choosing the stamp tool, you will get two options on a drop-down menu: the Pattern Stamp and the Clone Stamp tool. Click on the Clone Stamp tool.

Choose a Clone Source

The clone source is the image area that you want to use to cover the unwanted part of the image using the clone tool. Choose a soft brush and adjust the clone tool size from the drop-down menu to make sure it covers the unwanted object. 

Play around with the different brush sizes and hardness settings depending on the photo you are working on. Usually, a soft brush will have less defined and blurry edges, and a hard brush will have defined and clear edges. In most cases, you will need to use a medium-sized soft brush.

Typically, a soft brush allows the pixels to blend well with the rest of the image. Hold down the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Mac to reveal the source pixels. Once you drag the cursor on the image, a circle will display the source pixels around the crosshair.

Paint the Unwanted Area

Using the clone clamp tool brush, you can start painting the unwanted object in your image. Click and drag the clone stamp over the area of the image you want to remove. A circle will appear both at the target area and the source to show where you are painting and cloning.

Keep in mind that the target and the source area are linked together. When you move the clone tool to the source area, the cloning location also moves to the target area. Continue painting until the image appears natural. 

Depending on how the pixels blend with the rest of the image, you can adjust the brush's flow and opacity to regulate the amount of paint you apply to the cloned area. Regardless of the operating system you're using, you can make your brush size larger by hitting the bracket key ] or smaller by hitting the left bracket key [.  

Mirror the Pixels

Although you can avoid forming patterns by moving the brush randomly and unpredictably, you might not be able to avoid them, especially if you are a beginner. You can use the Clone Source Panel to transform the sample by scaling or rotating it.

You can also define around five sampling sources depending on the complexity of the pixels you need to replace. You can open the Clone Source Panel by navigating to the window menu and then selecting Clone Source or going to the panel dock and then selecting Clone Source Panel icon.

Make Adjustments

Even after trying to match the pixels from the source area to the pixels in the surrounding area of your target, it is not uncommon to find the pixels are darker or brighter than the surrounding region of the target area. 

Usually, this prevents the cloned pixels from blending well with the surrounding area. The best way to resolve this is to use the adjustment layers to tweak the colors. The adjustment layer will allow you to change things like saturation, hue, curves, and levels.

Navigate to Window and then choose Properties. Ensure the adjustment layer is highlighted in the Layers panel, and then select Create Clipping Mask icon at the panel’s bottom. You can also hold down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on a Windows PC and click between the two layers. 

Important Tips When Using the Adobe Photoshop Clone Stamp Tool 

Keeping in mind that the clone tool helps you to remove the unwanted pixels and replace them with pixels from another region in the photo, mastering how to use it is all about practicing how to match and blend the pixels

Although the best Clone Stamp brush setting mainly depends on the photo you are working on, the following tips can help you make your cloning look more natural.

  • Consider zooming in your image to clearly see the regions you are working on and then zooming out as you edit to see whether the image looks natural.
  • Depending on the complexity of your image, it’s advisable to follow along the lines while replacing the pixels to make the replaced pixels look natural. 
  • Pay attention to your brush movements to avoid making noticeable patterns related to your source region.
  • Avoid using the area adjacent to your target area as the clone source. 
  • Tweak your clone and make it as natural as possible before making adjustments using the adjustment layer
  • Avoid making all your edits on a single layer. Typically, working on several layers allows you to recover your work more easily in case you mess up.
  • It is advisable to use a soft brush with hardness set at 0% to make the blending seamless. However, you can increase the hardness up to 50% if you edit adjacent to a defined edge.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Makes Clone Stamp Tools Stop Working?

The main reason why clone tools suddenly stop working is when you select the wrong layer in the layers panel. This may hide your adjustments or sample the incorrect thing. The solution is to click on the layer you want to clone, then hold down the Alt key in Windows or Option in Mac OS.  

How Do Photoshop Clone Stamps Differ From Pattern Stamps?

The difference between a pattern stamp and a clone stamp is where you source the pixels you want to paint. With the pattern stamp tool, you choose the pattern on the options bar and use it to paint your target area. On the other hand, the clone tool takes a portion of the image and paints it on another area of the same image.

Final Thoughts

Cloning is one of the best ways to remove blemishes from portraits and unwanted objects in real estate interior photos. Knowing how to clone on Photoshop will give you shooting flexibility as you won’t have to avoid every object you don’t want in your photos.


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