Photoshop Fundamentals: The Clone Stamp Tool

Photoshop Fundamentals: The Clone Stamp Tool

Adapted from Adobe Photoshop CS3 A-Z: Tools and features illustrated ready reference (Focal Press)

By Philip Andrews

Dateline: November 30, 2007
Version: Adobe Photoshop CS3

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Clone Stamp Tool

Version: 6.0, 7.0, CS, CS2, CS3
Shortcut: S

Scanning your prints or negatives is a great way to convert existing pictures into digital, but sometimes during the process you pick up a few unwanted dust marks as well as the picture details.

Or maybe when you photographed your mother you did not realize that the electricity pole in the background would look like it is protruding from her head in your picture. Removing or changing these parts of an image is a basic skill needed by all digital photographers and Photoshop contains just the tool to help eliminate these unwanted areas.

Called the Clone Stamp tool (or sometimes the Rubber Stamp tool), the feature selects and samples an area of your picture and then uses these pixels to paint over the offending marks. It takes a little getting used to, but as your confidence grows so too will the quality of your repairs and changes.

There are several ways to use the tool. For starters it acts like a brush so you can change the size, allowing cloning from just one pixel wide to hundreds. You can change the opacity to produce a subtle clone effect. You can select any one of the options from the Blend menu. And, most importantly, there’s a choice between Clone align or Clone non-align the sample area.

1. Make sure that you select the layer that you want to clone from before using Alt/Option + Click to select the sample point.

2. Alternatively, if you want to sample from all the image layers in the picture select the Use All Layers option in the tool’s options bar.

3. Watch the cursor move over the sampled area as you clone. To avoid unexpected results be sure that the sample cursor doesn’t move into unwanted parts of the picture.

4. When cloning fine detail look around for similar areas and try to follow a path that will make the sample look natural.

An example at left: before (top) and after (below).

Clone Stamp Tool (CS3)

Version: CS3
Shortcut: S

Drawing on the success of the preview Clone Stamp tool inside the Vanishing Point filter, Photoshop CS3 boasts some beefy Clone Stamp options mainly due to the inclusion of the settings in the new Clone Source palette.

By switching on the Show Overlay setting you can ghost (Overlay) the source of the clone whilst moving the mouse over the canvas area (top). This enables precise positioning of the start point for the clone task, making matching new content with old much easier than ever before. Once the overlay is located on the background you can start to clone as normal, painting in the copied details from the source point (bottom).

The Opacity and Blend mode of the overlay can be adjusted here as well. Selecting Auto Hide will hide the overlay once you start the cloning process.

Clone Stamp Tool - Current & Below

Version: CS3
Shortcut: S

In Photoshop CS3 the Clone Stamp tool can sample the contents of a single layer, a group of layers or all layers in a photo as the source for the cloning. These sampling alternatives are located in the tool’s options bar.

Selecting Current & Below restricts the sampling to a composite of the active layer and those visible layers beneath it. The Ignore Adjustment Layers option can be used in conjunction with this sampling mode.

Clone Stamp Tool - All Layers

Version: CS3
Shortcut: S

All Layers is one of the options available from the Sample menu in the Clone Stamp tool’s options. When All Layers is selected the tool uses the combination of the picture content from all visible layers in the current layer stack when painting.

Click the Ignore Adjustment Layers button to the right of the Sample menu to remove any adjustment layers from the set of layers being sampled.

Clone Stamp Tool - Current Layer

Version: CS3
Shortcut: S

The Current Layer option in the Clone Stamp’s Sample menu constrains the tool to sampling picture details from the active layer only. This means that no detail from layers stacked above or below the active layer will be used for the cloning.

This option is available from the Sample menu in the tool’s options bar.

Clone Stamp Tool - Ignore Adjustment Layers

Version: CS3
Shortcut: S

The Ignore Adjustment Layers button is positioned to the right of the Sample menu in the Clone Stamp tool’s options bar (left). Clicking the button constrains the sample source to layers containing image data only. No adjustment layer is included in any resulting cloning action. Ignore Adjustment Layers is available for All Layers, and Current & Below sampling modes.

The option is grayed out when the current layer is selected (right).

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Printed with permission from Focal Press, a division of Elsevier. Copyright 2007. "Adobe Photoshop CS3 A-Z: Tools and features illustrated ready reference" by Philip Andrews. For more information on this title and other similar books, please visit