Monday, June 30, 2008
A Cloning Primer
Use these tips to master the subtle power of the Clone Stamp tool
10 Key Guidelines
Problems in cloning come from several things:
• Poor blending of the edges of the cloned area
• Cloning artifacts are the duplication of unwanted patterns that show up in a cloned area
• Too dark or too light cloned areas
• Poor matching of detail
• Cloning spills into areas that shouldn't have cloning
• Problem cloned areas are hard to fix when cloned into the original
To get around these problems, it helps to start on the right path by following some guidelines for cloning. Doing cloning is easy—you just set a cloning point and then start cloning in a new location. Making the cloning look good isn't as easy. It definitely takes practice, but these guidelines can help.
Enlarge your photo to see the problem area.
2. Always clone to a layer.
3. Use a soft-edged brush. There's a temptation to try a hard-edged brush when cloning near edges. Don't do that. It will only cause you problems.
4. Clone by constant clicking, not by painting. Every time you click the cursor, a new clone copy is made and blended into the area. If you brush your cloning, you're more likely to see edges.
5. Constantly change your clone-from point. This makes the cloning blend better and makes it less likely you'll get cloning artifacts.
6. Change your brush size regularly. By changing your brush size, you'll make the cloned area blend better. Change your brush to both larger and smaller sizes and see what happens.
7. Be ready to use Undo. As you clone, you should always experiment, then undo immediately if it doesn't work. Don't continue cloning, trying to make something work when it's going wrong.
8. Erase your cloning problems. Since you're on a cloning layer, it's easy to get rid of any poor cloning. Just use the Eraser tool, erase the bad spot and clone over it again.
9. Use a selection to clone along an edge. It can be hard to clone right to an edge. Make a selection along that edge and give it a slight feather of a couple of pixels (Select > Modify > Feather). You can set a clone-from point anywhere in the picture, but you'll now only be able to clone into the selected area.
10. Practice, practice, practice. Cloning is a craft that takes some practice to master. It can help to take any photo and try cloning out bits and pieces of it to gain that practice.
Note the three repeating dark spots—a pattern from cloning called cloning artifacts. Watch for this and work to keep them out of your photo.
• Cloning artifacts. You have to watch for these. You can remove them by using Undo, but also by changing your clone brush size and clone-from point, and deliberately cloning into the problem.
• Too dark or too light cloned areas. This is always a problem of the clone-from point. Undo and find a new point.
• Poor matching of detail. This comes from both the clone-from point selection and the placement of your first click to start the clone. Undo and start again.
• Cloning spills. Use a selection to keep the cloning confined. You also can simply erase a spill because you're cloning to a layer.
• Problem cloned areas are hard to fix when cloned into the original. The answer is easy—use a layer.
The photos on these pages will give you ideas on how to implement the steps and guidelines discussed here, but to master cloning, you must spend time working on your own photos. Don't be afraid of making mistakes-that's another great reason for using a layer. With a layer, no mistakes are fatal. And have some fun!
Rob Sheppard's new photo blog is located at www.photodigitary.com. To learn more about his books and workshops, visit www.robsheppardphoto.com.
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