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The Clone Tool GIMP


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Clone Out Lampposts

The Clone Tool (Remove Lampposts) GIMP (GNU)
The Clone Tool (Remove Lampposts) GIMP (GNU)

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This GIMP (GNU) tutorial demonstrates how to remove distracting elements from photographs, such as lampposts, using the Clone Tool. To work along exactly, you are welcome to download the photograph I am working with (Whitley Bay’s Art Deco houses) HereUnzip the file and open the photograph onto Photoshop’s workspace.

You can quickly Undo a step at any time by pressing Ctrl then Z. Alternatively, click a previous Undo History snapshot - Windows then Dockable Dialogues then click Undo History. In addition, to Zoom in (or Zoom out) of your image; from the top menu choose View then select a Zoom Tool from the subsequent drop-down list.
To quickly zoom in or out of an image: - tap your Keyboard’s Shift+Plus Key or the Minus Key, respectively.

Launch GIMP & Organise Its Workspace & Palettes

Ensure the Layers and the Undo History Palettes are visible, and then drag them into position over your workspace - (Windows then Dockable Dialogues - then click Layers and Undo History).

Remember, the closer you Zoom into your image, the larger the Clone Brush’s Size needs to be - and vice versa.

Table Of Contents
Clone Tutorial
Intricate Cloning
Navigation Palette
Collect Clone Pixels
Correcting Mistakes
Clone Tool Settings Notes
Patchy Gradient Sky Warning
Quickly Adjust The Brush Size
Display Your Cursor’s Crosshairs
Spot-cloning - Clone Specific Areas
Clone Stamp Tool Notes And Synopsis
Using Cross Hairs To Copy (Clone) Areas
Collecting Pixels From A Second Photograph
Redefine Dark/Light Edges Using The Burn/Dodge Tools

Clone Stamp Tool Notes And Synopsis -
Proceed To The Start Of My Tutorial Here.
Cloning elements from photographs is not a precise science; undoubtedly, you will require considerable patience and lots of time. Additionally, individual photographs have different needs, and require slightly different cloning steps.

When cloning (removing) elements from photographs, the most important consideration is a flawless removal. Therefore, keep a close eye on your progress and ensure the pattern repetition (clone) is randomised enough to be convincing. You can of course incorporate alternative methods to remove elements from images. In addition to the Clone Tool, the following Tools can facilitate the removal of unwanted elements; The Healing Tool, The Eraser, The Blur, Dodge and Burn Tools.

The Clone Stamp Tool paints one part of an image over another part of the same image (or over another part of any open document) that has the same colour mode. You can also paint part of one Layer over another Layer. The Clone Tool is therefore useful for duplicating objects or removing a defect in an image.

To use the Clone Tool you need to set a sampling point over the area you want to copy (or clone) the pixels from, then paint them over another area. To paint with the most current sampling point whenever you stop and resume painting, (from the Alignment box), choose the Aligned option. To paint starting from the initial sampling point, no matter how many times you stop and resume painting - select None in the Alignment box.

You can use any Brush tip with the Clone Tool, which gives you precise control over the size of the clone area. You can also use Opacity and Brush settings (for example, Hard or Soft/Fuzzy) to control how paint will be applied to the cloned area.

Optional Tip - Duplicate Your Photograph
Duplicate your photograph and work on the Duplicated copy, and keep the original photograph open on the workspace, next to the copy. This makes it easier for you to keep an eye on your progress, and also ensures you do not remove/repair elements that are an integral part of the original photograph.

Clone Tool Tip
Applying the Clone Stamp Tool in very small increments allows better control.

If you cannot see your Layers Palette, press your Ctrl then L.

1/ Remove Unsightly Lampposts GIMP
Open your photograph onto GIMP’s workspace Ctrl then O.

Duplicate Your Image
It’s important to preserve your original image: therefore, Duplicate your image; Ctrl then D - (Image then Duplicate). Now, close the original image, and work on the Duplicated image.

Zoom Tip
For accuracy, Zoom into an area you wish to Clone out: - top menu, then View then Zoom.

Shift+Plus Key And Minus Key Tip
To quickly zoom in or out of an image - tap your Keyboard’s Shift+Plus Key or the Minus Key, respectively.

I zoomed in once. If necessary, you can navigate your image using the Right-side and Lower Scroll Bars.

Now, Duplicate your Photograph’s Layer by clicking the following Create a duplicate of the layer tab. And work on the Duplicated (the Background copy) Layer


Then from the left-side Tools Toolbar, activate the Clone Tool - or tap your C Key.

And to begin, enter the following Circle Fuzzy/Soft Brush settings into the Options Box.


Clone Tool Settings Notes
Settings depend entirely upon your image’s size and requirements - and throughout this tutorial, the Brush SizeOpacity, (and Hardness if you are using a Hard Brush) - can be altered to suit your images individual requirements. I am working with GIMP’s Circle Fuzzy 17 Brush.

Ensure the Clone Brush’s Size (the circular area) is slightly larger than the area you are

When a randomised clone is required. For example, when cloning similar coloured (and textured) patterns such as foliage or sand - set the Alignment to None

Quickly Adjust The Clone Brush’s Size
To quickly adjust the Clone Brush’s size, press your Keyboard’s Bracket Keys
The left-side bracket reduces the Brush’s size and the right-side bracket enlarges it.

4/ Ctrl-clicking To Copy (Clone) Coloured Pixels
Before you begin, you must prime the Clone Tool with coloured pixels by Ctrl-clicking over clear sky pixels - (the area you would like to copy). If you don’t Ctrl-click to collect your pixels, you’ll receive the following warning.

Therefore, over an area that is close to the lamppost, but not close enough to collect lamppost pixels. Press and keep pressed your Keyboard’s Ctrl Key. Now (with your mouse), left-click once. Left-clicking primes your Clone Tool with gradient sky pixels within the clone-circle. Now, move your cursor over the lamppost, and left-click. You have now applied a lamppost-free area of sky over the lamppost, and as a result, part of the lamppost has been removed (or cloned out) - as illustrated below.

To remove this area of the lamppost completely, repeatedly left-click over the same area to reapply the Clone Tool.

Soft (Fuzzy) Brush Clone

Because I am using a Soft (Fuzzy) Brush, the clone has a soft feathered edge (as illustrated above). However, if I were to repeat the last step, and collect sky blue pixels with a Hard Brush - it would result in a harder, sharper clone, as illustrated below.

Hard Brush Clone

A Hard Brush therefore causes the clone to be sharp and more noticeable than a Soft Brush does: however, during your task, there may be times when you require a Hard and a Soft Brush. 

Correcting Mistakes: Quickly Step Backwards
To quickly step backwards, press Ctrl then Z.

If one of the following examples happens.  

It means you have Ctrl-clicked too close to the lamppost, and you need to Step Backwards, collect, then reapply - clear sky pixels. (Ctrl then Z).

5/ Using Cross Hairs To Copy (Clone) Areas
An alternative way of collecting pixels is by dragging your cursor in small circular movements around the image. Whilst dragging, you will notice the following cross hairs. 

As you move the cursor around your image, the Clone Tool copies coloured pixels from the source point (cross hairs). It then applies them to the area, above. It is therefore vitally important that, when cloning with this method, you pay special attention to where the cross hairs are collecting pixels from. Below is an example of the Clone Tool’s cross hairs collecting, then depositing, inappropriate pixels.

For accuracy, especially when working with intricate areas, you will gain more control if you Ctrl-click to collect the pixels, rather than using the cross hairs method.

Display The Cross Hairs
To set your Clone Tool to display its central cross hairs. From the top menu of GIMP, choose Edit then choose Preferences. Then choose Image Windows. Now, from the Mouse Pointers menu, mark the Show Brush Outline and the Show Pointers For Paint Tools boxes, then click OK.

Now, continue Ctrl-clicking, (or dragging your cursor using the cross hairs method); being careful to clone (copy) the correct coloured pixels. After you have removed the upper lampposts, you are ready for the next step.

Warning - Patchy Gradient Sky
If the Clone Brush doesn’t collect identical sky gradient pixels, your new sky will appear blotchy and uneven - as demonstrated below.

To blend uneven sky colours, utilise the Dodge, Burn, Eraser, and Blur Tools - setting very low Opacity/Exposure settings.


Spot-cloning Tip
First isolate the area you wish to clone with a Selection Marquee using the Free Select Tool. Then complete your cloning inside the Selection Marquee. The Selection Marquee will protect areas outside the Selection Marquee, (for example the Art Deco house), from being effected by sky pixels.

Free Select Tool Tutorial Here.

The relatively easy part of removing the upper lampposts is complete, and it is time for the trickier - and more time consuming task of removing the lower lampposts. The best advice I can give is to Zoom into your image as much as you can, and carefully (and slowly) clone away elements - pixel by pixel if necessary. Keep zooming into (and out of) your image, observing your steps. It is better to redo a couple of steps than to find out much later that you have made a monumental error. Therefore, try to get into the habit of checking your progress as you work. Zoom into your image - with the Zoom Tool, or the Navigation Palette, then Ctrl and left-click over a suitable area of your image; adjusting the size of your Brush as necessary.

Continue with the cloning process, until you have cleanly removed all lamppost pixels.

Remove The Selection Marquee
When you have completed the Cloning inside the Selection Marquee: remember to remove the Selection Marquee. (Top menu, then Select then None).

Remember to blend the cloned area - and make good use of the Burn, Eraser, Dodge and Blur Tools.
Zoom out of your image to see how it appears in normal viewing size.

Shift+Plus Key And Minus Key Tip
To quickly zoom in or out of an image - tap your Keyboard’s Shift+Plus Key or the Minus Key, respectively.

Bear in mind; if you took the photograph, as long as the result is convincing, no one will know if the clone is not a perfect replica. Additionally, you can “borrow” missing areas from other parts of the image, or even a different photograph.


Collecting Pixels From A Different Photograph
This is very easy to do; begin by opening a second image onto GIMP’s workspace, and place it next to your original photograph - as illustrated below.

Then Ctrl-click to collect pixels from the second image, and left-click to apply them to the first image, in the usual cloning manner.

Redefining Dark/Light Edges
To redefine areas that have dark edges such as the edge of this flat roof below.

From the left-side Tools Toolbar, activate the Burn Tool.


And with suitable Exposure and Brush Size settings, utilise the Burn Tool to redefine (darken) the roof. Note: I worked between Shadows, Midtones and Highlights to redefine the following roof line. (You can also use the Paintbrush Tool for this type of edit).

Equally, you can lighten areas using the Dodge Tool

An Intricate Cloning Tip
If you are experiencing difficulties cloning right up to an element; for example, a person: first isolate the person with the
Free Select Tool. (remembering to add a slight Feather). Then Copy the isolated element to a New Layer. You can then (temporarily) hide the New Layer, and clone right up to the element. When your cloning is complete, you can then redisplay the hidden Layer.

Final Notes
Now I have explained how the Clone Tool operates, it is over to you. Take your time, and keep saving your image (as a Copy), as you work, and as soon as you feel eyestrain, take a break. If you begin with an easy image - for example, the removal of a child’s, or dog’s toy from and empty beach, or field - you will quickly build both skill and confidence - enabling you to undertake more complex (and demanding) cloning tasks.

After you have removed the elements and tidied your image with the Blur, Eraser, Burn and Dodge Tools, (or a very low Opacity of the
Eraser Tool). From the top menu, choose Image and then choose Flatten Image

Congratulations, your work is complete,
and it is ready to save - top menu, then File then Save As.
Wendi E. M. Scarth. 
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