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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cloning for Beginners

Photoshop Quick Tips for the Beginner - #1 - The Cloning Tool
Photoshop Quick Tips for the Beginner will be a small series of tutorials teaching basic photo adjustments using Photoshop, or photoshop-like editing programs. This is mainly for beginners and for those who haven't done photo editing, but want to make some minor adjustments.
There are many other programs besides Photoshop or Photoshop Elements that will let you make "auto" adjustments, but "auto" doesn't always work the way you might want it to.
These tips are pretty quick, and give you a little more control over how your final image looks. The instructions are very basic, and they are that way on purpose.
Let's start with this handsome fellow. (download the photo from here) Not too bad a picture, but there's someone's hair in the bottom left. If I try to crop it off, I'm going to throw off the composition a little.
I don't want it there, so I want to remove it, but I don't want a blank space. How to fix it?
In most full-bodied editing programs will be a tool called a cloning brush, or stamp, or a healing brush. What this does is copy a piece or section near the object you want to remove, and allows you to brush it over top of the bit you want to replace.
In this case, we want to copy some of the dog's coat and some of the sky and cover the hair.
cloningtool Depending on your program, the cloning tool should look something like this.

Before we start, we're going to save the dog picture with a different name. Save your picture as Cloning Test 1. Now you will be working on a file called Cloning Test 1, instead of "Brown Dog". This means you will always have a copy of the dog picture before you started editing it.
If you have a program capable of working on layers, you should make a copy of your background (the dog) layer. The method won't be the same for every program: some will have a button or link to duplicate the layer in the layer palette, some will allow you to use "hot keys" . Most will let you right click on the active layer and select duplicate.
If your program doesn't have a layers function, you have to work directly on the picture, so as you are working, if you make a mistake or a brush stroke doesn't look right, click the undo button (or you might have to select "edit" and then "undo" from the menu) and try it again.
Now you have two layers - "background" and "background copy". If your program allows you to rename layers, rename the "background copy" to "clone layer".
Find your cloning brush/tool/stamp and click on it. Most programs will have some options you can set for using the tool - the size of brush, the "mode", the opacity and flow, whether it's aligned or not, and which layers you want it to "sample" the selection from.
In this case, choose a size you feel comfortable with for your brush, the mode is normal, opacity and flow 100%, the aligned box is ticked (on) and we are sampling the current layer only.
clonetoolparameters Zoom in on the part of your picture you want to fix - it's much easier to work on this when you see what you are doing.
The clone stamp is a 2-part tool. Once you have the cloner open, you first need to tell it what part of the picture you want to copy FROM. Different programs will achieve this in different ways - in photoshop you hold your cloner over the area (in this case the dog fur) and hold down the ALT button on the keyboard. When you do this, the normal cursor will usually change to a cross-hair or target style cursor. Now you click.
Let go of the ALT button and move to the area you want to cover. Brush over the area in the same direction. You can't cover an entire area all at once. It will take a few selection and cover processes to complete the job. Continue selecting areas and covering the hair until you come to the area where the edge of the dog's fur meets the sky.
Here, we're going to stop working on the dog fur, and begin copying the sky over the hair strands. Using the same method as you did for the dog fur.
Be careful while working around the edge of the dog's fur - you don't want to move over any of that, just the hair strands. What you are trying for is a result that looks something like this.
Now you can go back to finishing the dog fur cloning, still avoiding the edge of fur. Now we'll clean up the last of those bits of dark hair. Using a fairly small sized brush for your cloning tool, pick up bits of dog hair and cover the last few bits of dark hair, carefully make sure not to go over the edge of the dog fur.
That's it.
Now you are ready to move onto other editing if you need to, like colour or contrast or sharpness adjustments...but those are for another tutorial. If you plan to follow this tutorial series, hold on to your dog photos, because we'll be using those throughout.
Practice your cloning skills and you'll soon find that a small job like this takes you no more than a couple of minutes. You probably spent a much time reading this tutorial (or more) than it would take you to fix the photo.
Happy editing!
© J. Gracey Stinson

Download this tutorial with more extensive picture in .pdf format from here: Quick Tips #1 – Cloning Tool (Please note - the .pdf file is protected by password. The password to open the file is: getthisfromgracey)

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