Go to TopThe Clone Stamp

The Clone Stamp has a number of uses. For the digital photographer the most important is to "repair" problem areas by "painting" over them with pixel data from picked another area of the image (or even another image).

Go to TopSelecting the Clone Stamp

Clone stamp button and pointer

You can activate the Clone Stamp in several ways:

  • Clicking on the Clone Stamp icon in the GIMP window
  • Selecting it from the Image menu via: Tools > Paint Tools > Clone
  • Tapping "c", its keyboard shortcut.

The default settings are not ideal for most photographs so, after selecting the Stamp and before it is used, set the Tool Options as required.

1. The dotted circle shown around the pointer, varies in size and shape according to the brush selected (See the Tool Options).
2. Until you have set the source, you will not be able to paint with the Clone tool. The pointer indicates this by showing a "forbidden" symbol.

Go to TopTool Options

Clone Stamp Tool Options

The main tool options for use on photographs are:

The Brush:
Generally replacing the default "Circle" with a "Circle Fuzzy" produces the best effect. Cluck the brush image to drop down a list of the other available types.

Select the largest brush you can that will allow appropriate source content to be copied from the source area and pasted to the destination area. Be prepared to switch to a smaller one to work in confined areas.

Adjusts the brush size, if one the right size is not otherwise available. (If you are repeatedly scaling brushes, consider creating a new one of a more appropriate size. This can be achieved from the Dialogues Window.)
Ensure "Image" is selected.
For each click or drag:
  • None: The source returns to its original location.
  • Aligned: The source maintains its relationship to the original destination. (Usually produces the best results.)
  • Non-aligned: The source remains fixed at its original location.
  • Registered: Copies each pixel in the source to the pixel with the same offset in the target. It is most commonly useful when you want to clone from one layer to another layer within the same image.

Go to TopUsing the Tool

Having set the Tool options, zoom in to the area to be cloned so that you can clearly see the detail inside the outline of the brush.

Select the area, the "source", to copy from. Do this by holding down the CTRL key (the pointer changes from an arrow to a cross) and clicking over the desired source area. Then you can click on the destination where you want the source to the "painted".

If not satisfied with the result, use the CTRL-Z keystroke, to undo recent actions. Adjust the tool options, if necessary

Generally, only drag where the background of the source and destination match closely. On areas where the background is complex try repeated clicking instead.

When repeatedly stamping with only slight movements in between, avoid working back over an area already stamped or the destination area will develop an obvious repetition.

You can clone from any layer of any image, by clicking on the image display, with the CTRL key held down, while the layer is active.

Go to Top Page published: 11 April 2008