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 such a frustrating thing but can you rescue it so your photo does look great? Yes, you can.
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 or removals to improve your cat photo.
There are lots more tools you can find and use in your photo software but using this one is a great way to start building your photo editing confidence.
I am keeping this post simple for beginners to experiment, but remember photo editing tools are versatile so don’t be afraid to explore.
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, cat hair, and even people. It does this by cloning the pixels you select from another part of the photo.
You can see how effective the tool is in removing a small mark from Harvey’s photograph. First you see the mark, then with some gentle cloning it disappears from the photo. You can remove marks from tables, floors and walls, as well as blades of grass or fluff and dust.
Adding A Duplicate Layer?
Before you start using the clone tool choose a practice cat photo to work on. Open your photo then select it in the side panel of your software and right-click to create a duplicate copy on top of the original. [You can also open your Layers drop-down menu to select ‘Duplicate’.]
The advantage of using a duplicate layer is that it is called non-destructive editing because you do no harm to your original photograph. If you are not happy with your adjustments on the duplicate layer it can be deleted for you to start again. I cloned the duplicate layer of Harvey’s photo below.
Most photo editing software has a similar setup for duplicating layers.
How Do I Use The Clone Tool?
Before you start to use the clone tool, take a moment to look at your photo. Plan where you want to make your adjustment(s) and start small.
Taking the time now to decide what you want to remove will help you keep your focus and not remove too much. The quote ‘less is more’ is important here.
Now look for your clone tool icon. It will usually be on the left, or along the top depending on your software. If you can’t find the tool click your software’s help tab.
- With the Clone Stamp selected, position your cursor over the area you want to clone (copy).
- Then Option-click (Mac) or Alt-click (Windows) to define the clone source.
- NOTE: The tool may turn into a crosshair shape while in use, this is OK!
- Move your cursor to the area where you want to use the cloned pixels and then start painting.
I recommend that you start with a small adjustment. Zoom in using Cmd/Ctrl +/- for a closer and more accurate adjustment.
Take your time and remember you have an ‘undo’ button if you don’t like the results.
Adjust Your Clone Tool
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. You will be able to expand the width of the tool from individual pixels to larger areas, and adjust the hardness or softness of the tool depending on how sharp your image is. These options will help you adjust the tool so the marks are the right size and texture for your photo.
Start with your clone tool in the middle of its settings. This might be 50% hardness or have a slider you can set to the mid-point. Then start to selecting a point away from the item you want to remove.
Your Own Clone Tool Software
Every software manufacturer has video tutorials and photo blog posts online explaining how their tools work and I am sharing links to:
- Paint Shop Pro (PC)
- Affinity Photo (Mac/PC)
- Photoshop Mac/PC and,
- There is even a work around in Lunapic the online photo editor.
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.
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 which regular users may be able to use. I am not sure of the instructions but regular Lunapic users might follow it better.
- We have a similar feature in cut / copy / paste / repaste. Start with the cutout tool.
Using the 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!
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