Photoshop Introduction: Clone/Stamp Tool

The Clone/Stamp tool is one of the most widely used and popular tools within Adobe Photoshop. It allows you to copy pixel data via a ‘brush’, from one part of an image and paint it to another. This makes it very useful in the repair missing pixel data.

You can find the Clone/Stamp tool within the Adobe Photoshop tool box, or by pressing the quick key ‘S’.


In order use the Clone/Stamp tool effectively, you must zoom into your canvas. I’d recommend a zoom factor of between 100 to 200%, thus; enable you to work with precision.

You’ll see a circle appear when you pass your mouse cursor over the canvas. This circle represents the current brush size and the radius of application.


To change the size of your brush, take you mouse to the option bar and left-click on the brush drop-down menu and change the master diameter, or you could use the left and right square brackets ‘[]’ on your computer’s keyboard. On most common keyboards, they can be found next to the Return or Enter key.

The bracket to the right increases the size of your brush and the left decreases the size of your brush. This is by far the quickest method for altering brush size and can be applied to many other Tools, so it is worth taking note of them.

To begin with, ensure that your brush is at a reasonable size. The size you choose depends on the amount of detail you want to include within the cloning process. A large brush will have a softer edge allowing you blend your cloned pixel data into the area of application. A smaller brush is far better for detailed work, however, the blend might not be as subtle.


In this example, I will attempt to remove this rather large scratch from my photographic image using the Clone/Stamp tool. Firstly, I will need to designate an area of ‘good’ pixel data to replace and paint over the damaged area pixel data.

To choose a target, start by holding down the ‘Alt’ key. You’ll notice a cross-hair appear. You are now in targeting mode. Now single left-click to establish a target. Move the brush over to the affected area and left-click and paint away the damaged data. You will have noticed as you do so, that the crosshair follows in alignment to your mouses’ movements.


Now this, to some may be the obvious way of using the Clone/Stamp tool, however, a professional technique for operating this amazing tool involves a continual re-selecting of target data.

Watch how I approach this particular problem. I target, paint, re-target, paint, so on and so forth. Continually changing the target point, selecting good pixel data from different directions around the damaged region.

By doing this, I am ensuring that the pixel information is truly random and free from echoing patterns and other ‘dead-give-aways’. After all, the objective propelling any restoration should be to render an image to its former glory and to deceive the viewer into believing that this photograph has withstood the test of time.

Don’t be afraid to experiment! Make good use of the Undo function by pressing Ctrl or Option on a Mac along with the Z key.


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