Whether you are a Photoshop enthusiast or an experienced user you must learn how to use the clone stamp tool if you are any serious about enhancing your images.
The Clone Stamp tool samples one area of an image and replicates it exactly over another area, or from one image to another if you wish. You simply click Alt/Option to define the source area that you want to use (in the same or a different image) and then click to ‘clone’ that new information somewhere else.
You can select the size of the Clone Stamp tool’s brush as well as change the hardness of the edges, though 0% hardness is usually the best choice to ensure the cloning isn’t too obvious.
It has a standard mode and an Aligned mode which you can select in the Tool Options bar at the top of the screen. Aligned mode returns the source point to the original area once you release the mouse button, no matter where you are in your image.
In the standard mode, cloning always takes place in relation to the distance from the source point to the area you first moused down on to clone. If this sounds confusing, have a play and you’ll see.
The Clone Stamp tool was somewhat superseded for blemish removal by the Healing tools, at least in areas of even tone. However, where the Clone Stamp tool still excels is for removing blemishes that are close to areas that change suddenly in tone.
The Healing tools attempt to blend the new information in with the old, so they are prone to dragging in unwanted information. An example might be that you have a pimple right next to the hairline.
In the middle of the forehead, the Healing tools do a great job, removing the pimple and blending the new information seamlessly. However, if you click the pimple near the hairline, you’ll find that you’ll end up with a smudged patch or a piece of hair replacing the pimple, as tools such as the Spot Healing brush will try to blend with the hair itself.
The Clone Stamp tool is king for these situations; there’s no attempt at blending, so as long as you source from an area that looks very similar in tone, the pimple can be removed effectively.
As you can see, once you learn how to use the clone stamp tool, modifying the photos to your own taste becomes very easy. It takes some time mastering this technique, but once you become accustomed to it, it will become one of the most powerful assets in image modification.