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Tips & Tricks

The Clone Stamp Tool | What Everyone Misses & Where To Find It

By Kishore Sawh on April 26th 2016

You could spend weeks, months even, entirely dedicated to Photoshop and not find or figure out all the variables and tools at your finger tips, nor how to manipulate them all. The use of Photoshop is, metaphorically, a martial art, where you can learn the basics, but continually develop and realize the nuances of your actions.

Of course, as photographers there’s a lot to Photoshop we’ll likely never need. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking, especially given the namesake, that Photoshop is strictly for editing photos, but it’s also a true-to-form designer’s tool. I mean, one only has to look at Photoshop’s ‘Design Space Preview’ to get a glimpse of how much of a designers tool it is. In fact, a sizable proportion of you reading this may not have the foggiest idea what that is (will discuss further down).


Click image to see another favorite Photoshop Tip

Nonetheless, the great thing about Photoshop being so vast is that learning it is like running in a race where the finish line keeps moving – there’s always something more. In that vein, I’d like to share a ‘trick’ that a disproportionate number of retouchers aren’t aware of, and it’s one of my absolute most-used and favorite features.

Rotating The Clone Stamp Tool

Retouching a face, a body, an article of clothing, or indeed any ‘thing,’ often involves using the Clone Stamp Tool. It’s effective, quick, and versatile. Left unadulterated and unaltered, however, is just letting some of the best in Photoshop pass you by.

If you’ve ever used it, you’ll be aware as you sample an area to clone then move the cursor/tool you see a representation of what you’ve copied – the clone (less or more visible depending on your brush opacity). When you move it to the area where you’d like to ‘deploy’ it, this preview allows you to align it as you like. One of the problems you’ll run into, and quickly, however, is that it’s highly unlikely that the angle and disposition of the sample will match the angle you endeavor to ‘paint’.


I find myself using the clone stamp tool predominantly on hair (eyebrows, beards included) and clothing, and very infrequently do those lines keep strictly straight. So if I’m filling in some hair, cleaning strays, or reshaping clothing, I’ll often find myself presented with a situation like a rounded corner or a rounded lock of hair and the angle of the sample area just doesn’t follow the curve you’re trying for. Many photographers labor under the impression that in those cases you just have to deal with it or use another tool, but the clone stamp tool, in fact, can be rotated to match the angle you like.


That’s the reveal, and it’s a big one for many. When this is implemented and you input that perfect rotation degree so the angles match perfectly, well, that’s what I imagine a shot of morphine feels like when in pain – bliss. It’s also easy to do: Window>Clone Source and then find the rotation input section in the pop-up dialogue, and change to your will. You should get significantly more accurate use of the Clone Stamp Tool armed with this.


[REWIND: You Can Greatly Speed Up Photoshop With A Click Of A Button, But Consider This…]

Design Space Preview

As promised earlier, here’s how to find the Design Space Preview.

Go to Photoshop/Edit>Preferences>Technology Previews. This will bring up another dialogue/options box and you’ll want to ensure you have the ‘Enable Design Space (Preview)’ box checked.


Once it is, you simply hit OK then go to Window>Design Space Preview. You’ll see Photoshop transform before your eyes into something cleaner, more streamlined and starkly different from the standard. I won’t get into details about it now, but suffice to say it’s primarily designed with the designer in mind, but fun to play around with nonetheless.


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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. marcel bauer

    Awesome tip on the clone rotating, will be very useful.

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  2. Charles Magrin

    Well actually i just tried it and it’s not the revolution i first thought i’d be… It’s cumbersome to use as you can’t preview the angle change directly on the clone stamp preview, you have to rotate the image to see aproximately what angle matches, so i ‘d rather use the free transform to me it’s seems faster and more intuitive. what would be awesome would be to be able to change the angle of the “cloned” area with a combination of keystrokes and mouse like alt+ anther keystroke+ moving mouse left or right to rotate the cloned matter… not sure I mae myself clear as my english is not good enough for a precise topic like this one, so excuse me if you don’t understand me guyz :)

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    • Kishore Sawh

      It’s certainly not perfect, and who knows, perhaps with more attention from users to this feature Adobe may give us the preview of the angles. I don’t think I’d substitute Free Transform in its place as it’s a very different beast altogether – but to each his own. Hopefully it will come in handy for you at some point. Cheers

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    • Rob LaRosa

      You CAN preview and change the angle on the fly! Click inside the rotation box as if you were going to enter a number value for the angle, then move your cursor to the location you want to clone. Next, hold the Shift key and press the up or down arrow key to change the rotation angle on the fly.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Awesome. I didn’t even know that.

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  3. Charles Magrin

    Wow that’s great! working for a stock photo company i have to retouch hundreds of pictures a day and find myself in that situation many times a day, so i just want to say a big THANK YOU!! I’ll tell that straight away to my retoucher coleague and see if he’s aware of this!

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  4. Erika Pinkley

    Awesome tip on the clone rotating! Thank you so much for that!

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Glad to be of some help Erika. I’ll try to put out some more of the kind. Cheers

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  5. Lynne Bardell

    Thank you Kishore, for some reason the Clone Stamp tool is one I enjoy using, but didn’t know about these options, so look forward to ‘tinkering’ with it and exploring what it can do.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      You’re more than welcome Lynne. Tinker away (perhaps working within a non-destructive workflow to be safe). If there’s anything else you’d like to learn about, or specifically questions you would like answers to, give me a shout, or join our FB Community and we’ll try to help as much as possible. Cheers.

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