In this tutorial I will explain how to remove the beetle, those fallen pollen grains and blotches in the petal surfaces seen in the image above and below. We'll be using the Rubber Stamp Clone Tool for these repairs. In this image I'm going to remove the insect, all the white dots and the blemishes on the two sepals. Here's how...


The Rubber Stamp Cloning Tool is located beneath the 'band aid' tool - fifth down on the left hand group of tools in the main Tools Palette.

This is one of those tools whose purpose isn't real obvious since you need a modifying key press to make it work.

What this tool does is great though.

It allows you to select a brush size, then select this tool and find an area of the image that's similar in color and tone to the part of the image you wish to repair (often just adjacent to the part you want to repair). You then hold down the all important key (on a PC it's the Alt Key, on the Mac, it's the Option key). The tool icon will change temporarily to a bull's eye cursor when you hold this key down. While still holding the key down, click the mouse button once at the point you want to copy to replace the damaged portion of the image. This will mark a sample point. You can now release the key (but keep a finger close, the trick is to sample often and repair just small areas at a time.)

In Image 1 you see the beetle. Using a 45 pixel, soft edged brush size and selecting the Clone Tool, I use the toggle key (Alt or Option) to sample an area between the two petal veins by clicking once - Image 2. I then released the toggle key and moved the stamp area over the beetle (Image 3) and clicked again. I moved a bit more to the left and clicked again to get Image 4 where just a bit of the beetle still appears. I then sampled deeper into the throat (Image 5) and then stamped over the remaining area of the beetle. This 'erases' the beetle from the image by cloning nearby areas over the top of the insect until it's covered up.

Selecting a much smaller brush (about 9 pixels), I then sampled and stamped over all the blemishes, pollen and flaws in the tepal surfaces. Remember to sample an undamaged nearby area before each stamp action and you should be able to remove most of the flaws. You can sample from any direction near the flaw-left, right, above or below - whatever works best for each repair. Practice will teach you where to sample fairly quickly. And, when you're done...

fixed image

Here's my final version with most of the flaws and blemishes cloned away. This method works even better on larger images which are then scaled down for use - the scaling will almost always remove any traces of the clone tool's work.

A few cautions and pointers. Be careful sampling near edges of objects - you'll sometimes end up cloning the edge too. If you do stamp the clone tool and don't like the results, you can undo each stamping - the first one by pressing the Undo key sequence (Control-Z on a PC, Command-Z on a Mac). If you want to undo a number of steps, find the History Palette - usually on the right set of palettes and scroll up and click on any of the actions - it will "Undo" you to that point and you can start again.

You can also repair torn petals and other flaws - the more you use this tool and practice with it the more you'll find you can repair in the image.

Notice in the photo above how the background is blurry and out of focus. Your eye goes to the part of the photo with the highest contrast and the sharpest focus. In the next tutorial we'll look at creating a blurred background if one's not already present in your photo.

Tim Fehr - Eau Claire, WI

© 2007 by Tim Fehr - all rights reserved.