Clone Stamp

Clone Stamp Tool

The clone stamp tool is a complex tool in that it has a fair number of modifiers and can be difficult to use. It’s fairly straightforward however if you stick with the default settings. It allows you to identify a source area – the clone source – which will then be painted over areas of your image which you want to replace. Essentially, it copies from one area of your image to another. (It can also be used to clone content from one image to another.) A brush is used to ‘paint’ the content from the clone source to a destination area.

Clone Stamp Tool Options

A – Brush Settings

Set the size, softness, shape and angle of your brush here.

B – Open Brush Settings Panel:

This opens a panel which gives many more options for brush settings. I rarely use this with the Clone Stamp. 

C – Open Clone Source Panel

This gives a variety of Clone Stamp settings and is described in detail below.

D – Mode

Set a blend mode here if you wish. Normal is usually the most useful. Darker Color and Lighter Color can be very effective too as they  will replace only those pixels which are darker or lighter than the content of the area where you paint. This often means that a better blend can be achieved as you can target more precisely the nature of the cloning. 

E – Opacity

This determines the transparency of the pixels which are being copied. At 100%, there is no transparency, at 0%, it will be completely transparent and will have no effect whatsoever.

F/M – Use Pressure for Opacity/Size

Only applicable if you use a stylus and graphic tablet.

G – Flow

This determines the amount of ‘paint’ which is being applied. 100% = maximum amount, 0% = none at all which will have no effect.

H – Airbrush

This mimics the effect of an airbrush. The longer you hold down the mouse button, the more ‘paint’ will be sprayed regardless of whether you move the cursor or not.

I – Angle

Sets the angle of your brush. This has no effect if you are using a circular brush.

J – Aligned

When ticked, the clone source will always move relative to your brush. If you release the mouse button, the source will remain at its new position.

When unticked, it will also move relatively to each brush stroke but will return to its original source position when you release the mouse button. If you want to use exactly the same clone source for the entire replacement then untick Aligned and apply the brush with single clicks. 

K – Sample Range

This determines which layer or layers your clone source uses. The options are Current Layer, Current & Below and All Layers.

Often it’s a good idea to create an empty layer and use it with either Current & Below or All Layers. This is a non-destructive approach as it doesn’t change any pixels in your existing layers and allows you to get it right before you commit to the changes you’ve made.

L – Adjustment Layers

When turned on, the effect of any adjustment layers will be ignored.

Clone Source Panel

This panel offers an additional set of possibilities for using the Clone Stamp tool.

User Presets:

These allow you to store up to 5 clone sources along with their panel settings. To save a preset:

  • Click one of the 5 icons.
  • Set a clone source using ALT Click.
  • Make any changes elsewhere in the panel.

Be aware that resetting anything will change the current preset.


These show by how much the clone brush is offset from the clone source in x and y values. This is useful for some subjects where tones are consistent across or up and down your image. Skies are a common example. Keep an eye on the offsets so you can be sure you are brushing at the same x or y position.

It is also useful for positioning the overlay when Clipping is unticked. In this case, the entire layer is visible as an overlay. The Offset values can be changed directly to position the overlay very precisely. 


This shows the content you will be applying as you move the brush. I nearly always leave this ticked. Reduce the opacity if you have unclipped the clone source so that you can see what’s happening.

Width & Height:

This refers to the proportions of the sample you are cloning. You can stretch or squeeze the sample in either or both directions. You can also flip the source horizontally and vertically.


This is only used for video.


  • Clipped: When this is ticked you will only see the source sample at the position of your brush. Unticked and you will see the entire layer. This can be very useful for positioning your brush.
  • Auto Hide: If anyone can work out if this does anything useful, please let me know!!
  • Invert: Creates a negative version of your source sample as a visual aid to help position the clone brush. It has no effect on the actual replacement.


Like Invert, these modes can be used as visual aids to help position the clone brush. Again, they have no effect on the actual replacement.

Using the Clone Stamp Tool

  • Select the Clone Stamp tool from the toolbar.
  • Make any changes you wish to the tool settings in the Tool Options bar and/or the Clone Source panel.
  • Select the layer you want to work with or create a new empty layer.
  • Hold down the ALT key and click on the area you want to use as the clone source.
  • Release the ALT key and paint over the area you wish to replace.
Tips for painting
  • Setting the brush size is particularly important. As a rule of thumb, set the largest brush size possible without overlapping areas you don’t wish to replace.
  • It’s often a good idea to reduce the Opacity and/or the Flow of the brush in the Tool options so that the area to be cloned can be built up gradually. Opacity is applied cumulatively with each separate brushstroke ie with each click of the mouse.  So, with Opacity set at 25%, four clicks of the mouse will result in 100% coverage. Flow applies ‘paint’ continuously while the mouse button is pressed.
  • Beware of repeating patterns as they look unnatural and the eye is drawn to them.
Have a Go - Use the Clone Stamp Tool
  • Download this sample file.
  • Open it in Photoshop.
  • Create an empty layer (Press CTRL ALT SHIFT n).
  • Select the Clone tool.
  • Use it to remove the trees just above the horizon.
  • Hints: Zoom in to each tree. Choose a clone source which is very near the trees. Consider the angle of the clone brush.