I understand that you, as the photographer, were busy capturing a moment, and now have a lovely expression on the subject only to notice the distracting sign just off the left shoulder. Problem? No, not with the ever so wonderful clone tool. This tool duplicates a selected area and allows you to use this selection to cover up the unwanted areas.
- Image is selected and in the Editor’s workspace (quick or full)
- To begin – even if you don’t have any practice with layers… I want you to create a layer to work on by going to the menu bar: Layer >Duplicate Layer (this creates a copy of the photo to alter). You will get a dialog box that allows you to name the layer. Name it for the problem you are going to fix, ie: Sign. The reasoning for creating a layer to work on is this: it is easier to delete this entire layer and start over, if needed, instead of having to back out of the image, not save the work and reload the image so you can try again. If there are several areas you want to work on, make another layer for each problem – for the same reasoning, you can right click on any layer, select delete and then start again…It’s also true that you can use the History palette to go backwards and get rid of work you have done. I also use the menu bar: Edit > Step backwards.
- Click on the tool that looks like a rubber stamp. Look at the icon carefully, as there is a rubber stamp with an icon close by which indicates it is the clone pattern stamp. All tools have additional tools within. Access the tools by right clicking on the icon you see. Then in the drop down menu that appears, left click the tool you want.
- Once the clone tool is selected put the cursor on the picture. It will turn into a circle. If it looks like a dot with four lines coming out in all directions, it is as small as it gets. You can adjust this tool with the options listed above the image, however, this is another keyboard action that I find invaluable as it lets you size the brush while you are looking at it and the picture. The other ways to size the brush are with a slider on the options bar or by picking a number. To use the keyboard, look for the bracket keys located to the right of the letter P. The left bracket makes the circle smaller, the right bracket makes it larger.
- Now that you have adjusted the size of the brush, you might have to do it again if the type of brush selected on the options bar (remember there are options for every tool and these are located above the tools and below the menu). The brush is the first option on the far left. Click on the drop down menu and select a brush. I generally use one with a fuzzy edge. Note that the number next to this is the size of the brush (I suggested using the bracket keys to adjust for the brush size, but you can also pick a number in this space to influence the size of the brush).
- Mode: Normal (until you have other preferences)
- Opacity: 100%
- Now the fun begins. Knowing the problem area you want to “color” over, find a place in the picture that has the color and brightness that will match. You make a selection by holding down the Alt key and clicking. Release this and put the cursor over the area you want to cover up. You may need to repeat this procedure a number of times to make the cover up look good.
- Additionally – note that the place where you made the selection with an Alt+Click will now have a + sign that moves as you move the cursor. WATCH this + sign as it will pick up colors close by. It will help you to know that if you work on small sections at a time by releasing the click, the computer will save that action and you can use the Edit > Step backward. You can then click and work some more as much as is necessary.