Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Improve Your Cat Photos With The Clone Tool

Have you ever taken a great cat photograph then found there is a piece of fur, grass or a toy in the wrong place? This is so frustrating, and it would be so easy to delete the photograph, but wait! What if I told you that there is a way to save your cat photo? Something that is not hard to master? Let me tell you about it.

I want to encourage you to give just one single tool a try. It is mostly found on computer software but you might find it on more recent smartphones too. Let me introduce you to the Clone Tool.

  • For this introduction I have divided the post into bite sized pieces so you can pace your learning. Take your time, and have fun.

Meet the Clone Tool

The clone tool, aka the clone ‘stamp’ is a tool for making small adjustments to improve your cat photo. There are lots more tools you can find and use in your photo software but using just this one tool is a great way to start building your photo editing confidence. Photo editing tools are versatile so don’t be afraid to explore them all. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and have some fun.

The rubber stamp inspires many clone icons

What is the Clone Tool?

Some users call this the rubber stamp tool, or clone brush, and you will find that the icon in the toolbar often looks like an old-fashioned rubber stamp. The clone stamp can remove anything from threads, cat toys, dust spots, or cat hair. It does this by cloning or copying the pixels you select from another part of the photo.

You can see how effective the tool is in this sample photo of white cat Harvey. I have removed a small mark near Harvey’s eye. In the first image you see the mark, then after some gentle cloning it disappears from the photo.

white cat showing mark on its face that will be removd with clone tool before cloning Photo
Before using the Clone Tool
White cat showing marks cloned off the image Mark Cloned Out
Removal of mark with the clone tool

Find Your Clone Tool

Where is your clone tool? The location depends on your software’s layout so take your time and look for the icon which is usually the distinctive stamp shape. It will be either in a sidebar, or along the top. If you can’t find the tool click your software’s Help tab.

Add a duplicate photo layer

Before you start using the clone tool on your photographs open your cat image then right-click on it to create a duplicate copy on top of the original. You can also open your Layers drop-down menu to select ‘Duplicate’.

The reason you use a second layer is that it you are using something called non-destructive editing. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it? It means that you are not harming your original photograph because you are working on a copy on top of your original. If you are not happy with your adjustments on the duplicate layer you can delete it and start again and you have not harmed your original.

Clone Tool Example
Look for your rubber stamp icon

How To Use Your Clone Tool

Your first step should always be deciding what you need to remove. Do this first as setting your intention now will you keep focused and make sure you don’t remove too much too soon. You can repeat the following steps as often as you like to gain confidence with the clone stamp:

  1. With the Clone Stamp selected, position your cursor over the area you want to clone (copy).
  2. If you need a closer view of an area, enlarge your image using your Edit or Zoom menu.
  3. Check the size of your tool’s selection. Cmd/Crl +/- is a good place to try resizing.
  4. Then Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (Windows) to chose the area you want to clone (copy). It might be a plain surface you put on top of a cat hair.
  5. NOTE: The tool may turn into a crosshair shape while in use, this is OK.
  6. Move your cursor to the area where you want to use the cloned pixels and then start painting, or click.

I recommend that you start with small, gentle adjustments. Zoom your screen in using Cmd/Ctrl +/-  for a closer and more accurate adjustment. 

The Command or Control key is a used to perform popular shortcuts on PC (Ctrl) and Mac (Cmd) computers. It is a toggle key which means you press it then tap another key. On a Mac I might press Command then while I have it held down tap the + key.

Adjusting The Clone Tool Size

You might have found that your clone brush was the wrong size for your project. If this is the case, check the tool’s adjustment options in your software program or try Cmd/Ctrl =/-.

If you are not sure where to start work, set the clone tool in the midde of its settings and try it out. This might be 50% hardness, or have a slider you can set to the mid-point. Start with quite a small diameter then select a point away from the item you want to remove and give your tool a try.

Here are some of the things you should be able to do:

  1. You can expand the size of your tool from tiny individual pixels to larger areas.
  2. You can also adjust the hardness or softness of the tool so that it suits the texture of your own image. 
  3. These options will help you adjust the tool so the marks look more natural on your photo and your cat doesn’t suddenly have a hard mark where a blade of grass might have been removed.
  4. Small steps. Remember your aim is to make changes gentle so they look as though they never happened.

Clone Tool Software Resources

Every software manufacturer has video tutorials and photo blog posts online explaining how their tools work and I am sharing links here to:

  • Paint Shop Pro (PC) 
  • Affinity Photo (Mac/PC) 
  • Photoshop Mac/PC and, 
  • The work around in Lunapic the online photo editor.
Toulouse tabby cat portrait
Smartphone Image with Wire Showing.
Toulouse tabby cat portrait
Smartphone Image with Wire Cloned Out

Paint Shop Pro Clone Tutorial

I am not familiar with this software but I know it is very popular. I am impressed by the two sites that demonstrate how to use the clone tool and if you use the software, I recommend both as each offers fresh and fun insights into how to clone properly using PSP. 

GIMP Clone Tool Tutorial

Several of my readers use the popular free software program GIMP and I have found an excellent overview.

You will find this cloning tutorial from Mora-Photo very helpful. It comes with a cute ‘apology’ graphic excusing the blogger’s English but the tutorial is comprehensive and clear. You will have no trouble following the instructions and learn to clone quickly.

Tuxedo cat eating grass
Thomas with blade of grass ISO 200 100 mm F5.6 1/125 © Dash Kitten
Tuxedo licking his nose
Thomas edited to remove blade of grass ISO 200 100 mm F5.6 1/125 © Dash Kitten

Cloning with Affinity Photo

There is a quick movie overview to start you off with Affinity Photo’s clone tool and you will find a list of the tools many options at this link. Make sure you note the instruction about selecting the ‘current layer and below’ when these appear in the tutorials.

How to Use the Clone Tool in Photoshop

Photoshop is a monthly paid program used by many experts and bloggers. It is a comprehensive photo editing suite and, like Affinity Photo, has different tools that can be used when you clone.

  • All Things Photography have a helpful and comprehensive cloning tutorial here with special attention to different surfaces.

Lunapic Clone Tool Workaround

I could not find a clone tool but when I search Lunapic’s FAQ’s I found a recommendation that regular users may be able to use. I am not sure of the instructions but regular Lunapic users will confidently follow the instructions.

  • Lunapic: “We have a similar feature in cut / copy / paste / repaste. Start with the cutout tool.

Clone Tool Summary

Take your time and practice on a copy of your digital photo. You will soon realise that blemish removal is a very useful skill for you to learn. I am improving all the time, and discovering how to adjust the hardness and brush width is something you should try too.

The adjustment does not always have to a big one (although people have been known to clone out whole buildings). If you look at Harvey’s image in this post, I think you can agree that a small adjustment has made a difference.

Now, go and find one of those ‘almost fabulous’ photos and practice the cloning technique!

No Time to Read? Download this post as a PDF!

18 thoughts on “Improve Your Cat Photos With The Clone Tool”

  1. We just rejoined the blogging world after being absent for years. This is very helpful to know – thank you!

  2. What a difference the clone tool made in your photos! I think that photo editing is probably one of the hardest things to learn but it makes a huge difference in the quality of the photos.

    Your explanation is easy to understand. I need to practice using the clone tool with my images.

  3. I’m far from being highly skilled at either photography or photo editing, but I do love the clone stamp tool! I use it not only on specks but on larger areas sometimes, anything that might distract from the kitties who are the stars of the pictures.

  4. Wow, what an awesome tool! I’ve never heard of it before. I don’t really have photo editing software. I just use the basic editing available on my PC or in my phone, Canva and Fotor. Not very fancy at all. I find photo editing software to be extremely complex and I just never have the time or money to invest in that kind of software unfortunately. Thanks for sharing.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  5. I’m too spoiled by Photoshop; I use it for work as well to edit my dog photos. It has all kinds of ever-improving tools.

    It’s funny, though, I still remember Photoshop without layers and a Clone tool of the old days 🙂

    • I bet it does. For the budget-conscious person it might not be the first option but it is one of the best!

  6. This is such a helpful tool! Too often, people who aren’t familiar with it will discard an otherwise amazing picture over a small blemish or issue. We are so lucky to have editing programs that offer so many options, aren’t we? Between that and digital cameras/cellphone cameras, it’s far easier to create memorable pictures that we love.

  7. The clone and the heal tools on my Gimp are my best friends! LOL! But that tutorial help me understand some of the way its done a bit better. Thanks!

  8. We used to use the clone tool all the time until we discovered the healing tool works even better. I got rid of an annoying wire on today’s post with it.

  9. what a great tool! I am passing the info on to my husband who is in charge of all photo editing in the house 🙂

    • I am sure he will be familiar with the clone tool. it has saved every photographer’s ‘bacon’ more than once 🙂

  10. This is so interesting and I love that you share what you are using to help us with our photographs, I love my weekly lesson from you and your photos as always are amazing

  11. I use Photoshop but honestly don’t usually like doing too much editing on my own photos. I’m weird and kind of like the more natural, unedited pictures when it comes to my pets – imperfections and all. I get a lot of requests from family and friends to edit photos, though, and the clone tool for sure comes in handy!


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