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Cloning in Photoshop: How to Get Rid of Distractions Now!

Cloning in Photoshop: How to Get Rid of Distractions Now!

The best way to avoid distractions in your photos is to avoid them in the first place.  But sometimes you do not have this option, especially when shooting snapshots on the go.  There are several ways in Photoshop to deal with these distractions.  The key is to find the best tool for you and the task at hand.

How to change your clone source

Today, we will work with the simplest ways to take out some unflattering points in your photograph using the Clone Tool and other easy tools in Photoshop.

Just a few tips and tricks to begin with… I will use the term ‘good’ area in reference to what I want my finished image to look like and ‘bad’ area for what I don’t want to be in my image anymore.


Step 1: Open your image in Photoshop.

Step 2: Make a copy of your layer.

The first thing I always do is make a copy of the layer I am working on. I make this a general rule in doing anything from masks to cloning simply because sometimes history won’t take you far enough. So sometimes I just have to start from scratch.

Making a copy of the background layer


Important Cloning Tips:

  • Avoid duplicating the same thing over and over. Not every cloud in the sky looks the same. Vary your cloning source when doing a large area
  • Aim for realistic edits . There are samples all over online of people having 3 legs or an extra hand on a shoulder. A little proofing goes a long way.


Step 3: Use the Patch Tool

Use the patch tool is selected go around your ‘bad area’. Now comes this ease of this tool. All you have to do is click and drag where you want it to copy from your ‘good’ area. It will show you how the overlay will look as you go. THIS IS GREAT knowing what the outcome will be before you unclick your mouse. This copies entire selections and also blends your edges to look natural..however sometimes blending your edges isn’t always what you had in mind.

Where to find the patch tool


Step 4: Use the Clone Stamp

Clone stamp might be a better option for many background images.  The first thing that throws people off with the clone stamp is immediately it shows you a error sign before you click anything. As soon as you try to click it pops up the error message saying “area to clone has not been defined.” This stops people in their tracks. You must hold down your option key (MAC) or  alt (PC) when defining your source point…which just means the ‘good’ area you want to use to clone.  I always change my clone source several times and to change your brush size just click and drag on your brush palette at the top left of your screen.  You also want to zoom in on your image to finish it off by holding down COMMAND KEY + (on a MAC) or CONTROL KEY +(on a PC) . You can take it back out using the – size.

The clone stamp on the tools panel



Step 5: Using the Healing Brush

Now I am almost done with my image. I can use the healing brush to complete the edit. It is the band-aid tool on your tools palette.  I use the healing brush a lot for faces and small imperfections.  This tool is very similar to the clone stamp in my opinion just a little more fine tuned. It works in the same way by sampling a good area to replace the bad.

Finishing with the healing brush



The fisherman is gone and it took all of 5 minutes to finish. Just a few quick steps and you can be cloning as needed too.

Finished image



This tutorial was written by photoshopSAM. Samantha Heady is a former art teacher and current stay at home mom who teaches people easy tips and tricks in Photoshop.

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  1. Louise W
    August 15, 2011 at 10:13 am —

    Great tutorial! I have just the picture to work with on this! Thanks.

  2. August 15, 2011 at 11:31 am —

    Awesome!!! I seem to take forever to edit when doing this. thanks

  3. August 15, 2011 at 12:01 pm —

    Great tutorial! Thanks so much for posting this.

  4. August 15, 2011 at 3:31 pm —

    Love it! Easy to follow steps! Thank you for the information!

  5. Pam
    August 16, 2011 at 9:44 am —

    Can this be done in elements?

  6. August 16, 2011 at 5:53 pm —

    Sorry, I must be a complete dork but I just can’t get the clone stamp to work for me. At first I thought it was a stamp, like click once. But it’s a brush? Do I need to change the size of the source area? Maybe you could go into elementary detail in a post on your blog, for clone stamp dummies like me? I can do a ton on CS5 but the clone eludes me.

  7. August 16, 2011 at 6:42 pm —

    Wow! I’ve never used the patch tool before, but as of five minutes ago (when I started playing around based on your tutorial) I am in love! Thanks for sharing.

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Cloning in Photoshop: How to Get Rid of Distractions Now!