Cloning, Patching and Content-Aware for Beginners

Lesson 2 of 5

Cloning

 

Cloning, Patching and Content-Aware for Beginners

Lesson 2 of 5

Cloning

 

Lesson Info

Cloning

Let's talk first of all about the kind of principle of this whole idea of cloning and healing, et cetera, like I said, they all share the same thing in common, is that they were trying to get rid of, meaning cover something up. So for example in this photograph there's that tree sticking up in the far left-hand side, and I'm thinking I might want to make it look like it wasn't there, just so it's not a distraction. I actually like it there, but for the purpose of this demonstration... So, I'll first show you, I don't like to start off by saying here's the way I wouldn't do it, but it kind of is worth showing this to make a point of the reason why this might not be the best plan, is if you just take the Clone Stamp tool, and decide I wanna try and cover this up, the way that we'd do it is you have to tell Photoshop from where you want to borrow the pixels. So we're going to clone from one area and paint somewhere else, and the way we do that is holding down the Option key or Alt key and...

the cursor changes to say, that's my reference point. So this is kind of crucial, because if I am trying to cover up this tree, I need to cover it up with sky and cloud, so for example, clicking down here on the red bridge would not be a good idea, 'cause I'm gonna clone from the wrong area. So one of the challenges with the Clone Stamp tool is it's all on you to pick the right spot. So the first tip I'll tell you, no matter how you use this tool, is that you should be constantly picking up new reference points. It's very unlikely you'll be able to click once and then do a whole bunch of cloning, 'cause over time, you're gonna start moving into different areas where the colors are different or the elements are different. So one of the things that I like to do when I'm cloning something is look for kind of a built-in reference line, in this case the top of the covered bridge. So I'm gonna hold down Option or Alt and kind of line up that reference point so it's right on top of that bridge and click once. Now you can see as I move my cursor, depending on the size of your brush, you'll see a little kind of a preview. Now in older versions of Photoshop, there was no preview. So you just had to keep your fingers crossed it would work. But what this allows me to do is as I do that, line it up so I can see where am I lined up with that top of the bridge. Now if you look really closely, can you see there's two cursors, there's like a plus sign to the right and then the brush. So the plus sign is where it's cloning from, and the brush is where it's cloning to. So one of the skills we have to develop in Photoshop is have our eyes look two different places at once, or at least one eye look at each one, because if you're only looking at where you're brushing, suddenly like you can see what's happening now is I'm just starting to repaint the tree 'cause it's as if it's picking it up. So I need to be watching not only where I'm painting, but also where I'm coming from. So one of the suggests I'm gonna give you is that you should often stop and then start again, and one of the reasons for that is, like in this case I did a bit of cloning but I went too far. Now my only choice is to undo the whole thing, 'cause I did it in one continuous brushing stroke. So that's okay, but now I have to press Undo and start again. So it would be better to do that Option / Alt click, start painting, and then say, okay I got that part done, now let me pick a new reference point and continue. So it's like I say this all the time with any kind of painting, if you do one long brushstroke for anything and at the end you make a mistake, you gotta undo the whole thing. So in my opinion, it's often better to do a series of shorter strokes so at the very least, you're only undoing a small amount, not some great big long thing that you've done, okay? Now, this is to show you the basics of the Clone Stamp tool, but I've already done it in a way that to me introduces another problem, and that is I've kind of for the purpose of demonstration, deliberately done this a little zoomed out. If I zoom in, I might suddenly notice, oh wait, I didn't quite line up that roof line exactly where it should be, and now it's too late, because look at my layers panel, all I have is the background layer. So I basically painted with the Clone Stamp directly on the background, I realize I have no option other than reverting to the last time I saved and starting again. If I happened to, hopefully this would never happen, but if I'd happen to done a bit of cloning, and then out of habit, hit Save, now I've got nothing to go back to, because Save means that's, whenever you choose the command Revert, it really means revert to the last time you saved. So if you've saved something like this, then I'm really in trouble. So what I highly recommend for any kind of retouching tool, wherever it's possible, and I'll talk about this more as we go, is to do any kind of cloning or healing onto a separate layer. So all we do is add a blank layer, so I'm just gonna click on the New Layer icon to get a blank layer, and then what I need to do in my Clone Stamp tool or other tools as we'll see, is up here in the Options bar, where you have all the settings for the tool, right at the end it says Sample All Layers. Now if it said Sample Current Layer, nothing would happen, 'cause cloning means copy existing pixels. Well on this layer I'm currently on, there aren't any pixels, so there's nothing for it to copy. So I need to say either Current or Below if there's only two layers. I usually out of habit have mine set to All Layers, just leave it that way. One thing about all tool settings in Photoshop, is they stay however you last used them. So I changed this to All Layers I don't even know how long ago, and because I've never changed it, I don't even worry about it anymore, 'cause it's very rare, if ever, that I would change it to something else, 'cause I'm almost always saying Sample All Layers. So in any tool in Photoshop, if you look at the end and you see an option that says Use Layers, or Sample All Layers or some wording like that, that's a fancy way of saying take the results of this tool and put it onto the blank layer, okay? So in this case I would still use it exactly the same way. I'd Option or Alt click to set my reference point, but in this case I'm gonna deliberately be a little off, do my cloning and to start again for this part here, so each time I'm just pausing and Option or Alt clicking to get a new reference point, et cetera. And at a certain point I went too far there, so I undo. I used to jokingly say, and I realized it wasn't really a joke, that whenever you're using the Clone Stamp, you should always have your finger poised above Undo, but it's actually not that much of a joke, 'cause it really is true that about every second or third time if you're going to fast you're look, oops, that didn't work. So if I zoom in a little bit here, you'll see all that's on this layer is that little bit of pixel information, and in this particular case, one of the advantages of doing it on a separate layer is I can now take my Move tool and use the arrow keys and kinda nudge it down into place. Now obviously the rest of it still needed some work. But the point is, unlike the first time where you're in effect painting, changing the existing pixels on the background layer, this way it gives you the opportunity to edit, so that sometimes when we're cloning, you do the clone and realize, I wish I could angle it just a little bit, well you can now, 'cause it's on its own layer. So I could go, for example to Free Transform and now we get handles where if we needed to, we could make little adjustments. You still don't want to go over-crazy and do huge amounts of editing to it, but at least from a basic standpoint that's one of the reasons for doing something on your own layer. Okay? So, that's kind of the idea of the basics. So let me get another image here. Here's a photo of some guys singing in a quartet, I don't know who that could be. (student chuckles) And this was a recent photo that I really like, but there are parts of it, like these heads sitting down here kind of in the way, and then there's microphones coming out of people's heads and things like that, which is the reality of when it's a live event, you can't just pose everything the way you want. So here's how I would go through this photograph. There are tools we'll talk about that automatically try to generate pixels for you, and we'll talk about the pros and cons of those as we go. So I'm gonna come back to this photo when that part comes up. But for example in this part down here where there's these heads that are lined up and they just look kind of odd because they're cut off, so here's exactly, I do it exactly the same way we just talked about. Brand new layer, Clone Stamp tool, and then pick a reference point. Oh, by the way, see how the Clone Stamp tool is currently, looks like blue or something? That's because it remembers that the last time I Option clicked was in the other photograph. So if you ever want to really freak someone out, you can clone from another photograph to this photograph, even though you can't currently see the other photograph. So that kind of makes people a little like, "What's happening?", 'cause they're suddenly seeing like a sky appear out of nowhere, it's like, "Yeah I'm painting with the new Sky brush, that just generates a sky." No it doesn't. So that's kind of a reminder to you about the history of the way Photoshop works is it always remembers things. In this case it's remembering the last time I Option or Alt clicked. So I always like to look for those reference lines and in most photographs you can find things I think that are gonna help you. But again, because I have it set to All Layers, it doesn't really matter a whole lot, because now as I start to go, and I again I use the same philosophy where I go a certain distance, say that's far enough, and then do it again. Didn't line that up very well. Okay, there we go. And of course the idea of this is you want to hopefully get to the point where someone coming along, look at the photograph wouldn't go, "What is that I'm seeing "down at the bottom there?" So in the early days of Photoshop, when people didn't quite understand what the Clone Stamp tool did, they'd say, "Why can't I just use a paintbrush "and paint with a color?" And the problem is of course, in almost any photograph, it's not one color, it's many, many colors. So the thing that we have to know about the Clone Stamp tool is it's literally as if you're copying and pasting pixels. So it's all up to you, for example, the front of this stage isn't all exactly the same shade because of shadows and highlights, so you gotta look at it and say, "The part I'm trying to cover up looks a lot like "this area over here." If you pick the wrong area, then when you start cloning and painting it doesn't quite look right because the shadows and highlights don't match. The colors might be close, but you have to think about that. So that's why I mentioned that it's always a good idea to kind of stop and start and say let me now pick another reference point, okay? The other thing we need to know about the Clone Stamp tool is up here in the Options bar there is a checkbox called Aligned, and what that means, as I showed you a moment ago, if I Option click here, wherever I start to paint now, I'm gonna set the relationship between the cloning point and the painting point, and Aligned means no matter how many times I stop and start, they're always gonna be exactly the same distance apart, which most of the time, that's what you want, 'cause it kind of makes sense that you have that relationship going. So for example, in this case, as soon as I click and hold see there how the distance apart, however many times I stop and start, I'm gonna get exactly that same distance between. And if I come over here, and start again, see there's where that point is, so it's always the same. And again, a lot of the time, and that is the default operation of the Clone Stamp tool, a lot of the time that's what we want, is that the same. If we turn it off, and I click a reference point, wherever I click, see how that plus sign is staying in exactly the same spot? So sometimes, that's useful if you're trying to deal with, for example, texture, and the only part you're really seeing texture's in this one part of the photograph, it doesn't appear anywhere else, you probably want to keep going back to that same spot. Now, even though this class is talking about cloning and healing and everything else, we're really talking about covering things up. So I'm gonna show you this a couple of times in different photographs to remind us that, don't get stuck on thinking it's gotta be the Clone Stamp or it's gotta be the Healing Brush. Sometimes, like in this case, if I was trying to cover up something like this microphone, I might just do this, make a big selection of a clean spot, Command or Control J to put it on it's own layer so that's shortcut for copy to a new layer, and now I can drag it over and kinda line it up manually, and it obviously doesn't work on this part, but you can see on this half it works pretty well. So it's the same concept as cloning, but sometimes if it's a large area, it's faster to just make a big selection, make more than you need, copy it to a new layer, move it over and then just adjust the edges if you need to to help it blend in. So I always wanna put that thought, obviously you want to do it so it doesn't leave a big hole in the subject's head. But that's okay, Charlie won't mind. (chuckles) So all of these tools to me are just different options towards the same end, which is trying to make it look like something wasn't there covering it up. So very often, and this is a recurring theme with me, I think about how can I get closer and closer to the end result that I want? So with the Clone Stamp tool, it's not that often that I go in with the expectation that that will be the only tool that I use. I'll probably start with the Clone Stamp tool and then try a different one, or start with one of the more automatic tools we'll talk about and then if necessary do a bit of cloning to blend things in. The biggest thing, the takeaway we have to remember, about the Clone Stamp tool compared to the other retouching tools, is it's literally like copying and pasting, there's no blending, there's no, doesn't provide any help, it just says I will take these pixels and copy and paste them by painting over here. Whereas other tools we'll talk about like the Healing tools, et cetera, they do some form of blending in, okay? So as we go through I'm gonna keep coming back to this photograph so I can show you different options that will be in some ways better or give you other options. I was wondering if you could use another photograph to use the Clone Stamp tool? I had a situation where I had no pixels in that photo, and I had to use another photograph. Can you use that with the Clone Stamp tool? Well, and you can because if you remember, when I switched to this photograph, the Brush tool was still remembering the other photograph. So in theory, you could say I'm gonna take the Clone Stamp from here, Option click, and then come over here. The problem is first of all in this case, the resolution's not the same, so the photos don't match up. But you're also a little blind, 'cause now you don't see those two cursors of I'm going from the other image. So in some cases, it might almost be better I might think to copy a big piece of the photograph onto a layer inside this document, and then at least it's in the same document, 'cause you can clone from a layer to another layer. At least there you're seeing, you know you get a bit more visual feedback. But the basic answer is you can. Like in this case you can see it's showing me, but the problem is as I start cloning, I'm not being able to reference that other photograph. But, I suppose you could successfully argue that if you put it on its own layer like we were doing, then you can always remove unnecessary elements if you need to.

Class Description

Clone Stamp, Patch and Content-Aware are three of Photoshop®’s most indispensable retouching tools. In this class, Dave Cross will define and compare these popular features and explore the different ways to use them. Flaws, mistakes and imperfections on your images can be frustrating. This comprehensive course will help you develop the skills you need to tackle almost any retouching challenge that comes across your screen.

Reviews