Creativity with the Clone Tool

by Jim Zuckerman

by Jim Zuckerman

Expanding the use of a familiar Photoshop tool

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FO-683
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved

The clone tool is one of the first things we all used when we were introduced to Photoshop. After all, removing unwanted elements from photos is a primary motivation for delving into the program. Once you learn how to clone out telephone lines, dust on the sensor, and unwanted background elments, it’s hard to imagine what else this tool can be used for.

Let me show you two creative ways to use the clone tool that you might not have thought of. In photo FO-683 I placed marine dinosaurs into the ocean. The aerial view of the water was taken from a cliff in New Zealand, and the dinosaurs were models about 14 inches long that were shot on the carpet in my office as I stood above them. I cut out the models using the pen tool to make the edge absolutely precise (for Elements users, you can substitute the lasso tool for the pen tool), and then copied each one to the clipboard and pasted them onto the background.

The problem, though, was that they looked pasted ON TOP OF the water. They didn’t look like they were IN the water. To bring the water over the flippers and the body, I went to the toolbar and changed the opacity of the clone tool to 50%. I then cloned the water over the parts of the dinosaurs that would be partially submerged. The result is a picture that looks believable, where the prehistoric reptiles appear to be swimming in the ocean.

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FO-765
© Jim Zuckerman
All Rights Reserved

A different situation presented itself to me when working on photo FO-765. This is a composite of four pictures: the model, the mountains, the ‘stars’ (actually, glitter sprinkled on black velvet), and the scarlet ibis. I had photographed the bird at a zoo with its wings spread, and my shutter speed had been fast. Thus, the wings were sharply defined. In the composite, I wanted to imply motion in a still photo as if the bird were really caught in the act of alighting on the model’s hand. If I used the original photo as I took it, it wouldn’t be convincing.

Again using the clone tool on 50% opacity, I used a large brush size and created multiple wing impressions that suggested motion. It took me a few tries to get it right. The first few attempts weren’t artistically appealing, but finally I created the type of implied motion I wanted.

Note: Jim Zuckerman also teaches a couple of excellent online Photoshop courses at BetterPhoto.com:



About Author Jim Zuckerman


Author: Jim  Zuckerman

To learn more about photography, explore the photography classes offered here at BetterPhoto.