What Does the Clone Stamp Tool Do in Photoshop?

If you're looking to surgically remove people or objects from a photo, just as if you made them disappear from the shot, Photoshop's Clone Stamp tool works wonders. Just tell the software what pixels you'd like to replace (known as the target area), and what pixels you'd like to use instead (the source area). In this handy guide, we've shared how to harness the Clone Stamp tool to create cleaner and more compelling images, as if by magic. 

Learn the Basics

  1. First, choose the Clone Stamp tool from the main toolbar (or press S). The tool icon looks like a rubber stamp. Before selecting anything in your image, we recommend adjusting the tool's options in the top options bar. Here, you can adjust the Clone Stamp's brush hardness, opacity, flow, and more. 
  2. Next, move your cursor over the problematic area and hold the Alt key to select it as your "target". You should see the cursor change into an actual target icon. Then move the cursor to the pixel area you'd like to use as a replacement, and click your mouse.  
  3. Finally, release the Alt key and Photoshop will save your target and source area as the Clone Stamp's current configuration. When you draw on the target area with the Clone Stamp tool, it will be replaced with pixels from the source area.  

Create a New Layer

Now you're ready to learn some smart practices when using the Clone Stamp tool. First, we recommend always creating a new layer before altering your original image. This allows you to make non-destructive edits that keep the original image intact, and if you don't like how the changes look, you can just create a new layer and start over. 

To make a duplicate layer, select your original layer from the Layers panel and then press CTRL+J (Command+J on Mac). 

Use the Zoom Function

Next, we recommend zooming in as much as possible when using the Clone Stamp, so that you can see exactly what you're doing. If your edits look good at 80% or 100% zoom, they'll look spectacular when you zoom out. Generally, the fastest way to zoom in and out on Photoshop is by holding the Alt key and then moving your mouse's scroll wheel. You can also hold CTRL/Command and press the + and - keys.  

Choose Your Brush Settings

Though you can tweak the Clone Stamp's brush thickness on the options bar, it's much faster to use the keyboard shortcuts. Pressing "[" will make your brush smaller, and "]" will make it larger. Having quick access to these controls is great for adjusting the brush on the fly, whether you need to zoom in and paint a tiny detail, or zoom out and paint a huge area.  

  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?