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Pressure Sensitivity and the Clone Stamp

Using the Photoshop Clone Stamp Tool and a Wacom Pen Tablet to Retouch Images

Pressure-sensitive features aren’t just for the brush tool — they play an important role in retouching images.

In Photoshop, it’s easy to associate pressure sensitivity to the brush tool, since most of the Wacom Pen Tablet’s features are activated in the brush engine. Yet one of the most robust pressure-sensitive tools when retouching a photograph is the Clone Stamp. Taking advantage of pressure sensitivity in the Clone Stamp helps achieve a much more realistic look when retouching images.

Even the most experienced photographers are going to capture images that include elements that they don’t necessarily want in their finished piece. The Photoshop Clone Stamp tool makes it easy to remove those elements, and when used in conjunction with a pen tablet, the combination is an outstanding way to save time and create the best image possible.

Step 1: Understanding the Clone Stamp Tool Benefits

Using pressure sensitivity gives you an edge because you can smooth and blend elements of an image  much more seamlessly. In Photoshop, every tool that uses the brush engine can take advantage of pressure sensitivity. You can choose whether you want it to affect the opacity of the brush or the size, or both. The Clone Stamp tool and pen tablet offers greater control when retouching images and creates a professionally-finished image.

Step 2: Removing an Unwanted Element in your Image

Without pressure sensitivity, the Clone Stamp tool lays down a uniform number of pixels with a uniform edge. It’s good, but not subtle enough to be invisible. With your pen pressure-enabled, you’ll be able to lightly tap or swirl the pen over the tablet and easily remove unwanted elements. Remember, practice makes perfect here.

Grab the Clone Stamp Tool from the left toolbar. The icon looks like a rubber stamp.
Activate Pressure Sensitivity by choosing the brush panel in the Options menu along the top of your screen.
Activate Transfer in the brush options, and set both opacity and flow jitters to pen pressure for a greater degree of control.
Clone the Image. Clone a part of the image you want to actually use by holding down the OPTION key on a Mac, ALT on Windows, and touch the area you want to clone. (If you open the Clone Source panel, you get an option to “show overlay.” This is a great visual aid because it allows you to line things up so you can remove them accurately.)
Start Painting Elements Out. In actuality, you’re gradually building up that effect. With pressure-sensitivity enabled, the transitions are much smoother and the unwanted element gradually disappears.

Step 3: Create Dimension and Well-Blended Transitions

Using your Wacom Pen Tablet and the Clone Stamp tool, you can paint out unwanted elements in Photoshop elegantly—something you cannot do with traditional tools. Without pressure sensitivity, the pen will lay down flat pixels. It won’t blend them very well or look as professional. With pressure sensitivity you actually watch as you create a relatively seamless transition to image backgrounds. It’s also easy to take out repeating elements you don’t want.

Step 4: Advanced Clone Stamp Uses—Removing Blemishes, Wrinkles, and More

Once you become accustomed to activating pressure sensitivity with the Clone Stamp, you’ll find yourself using the feature for much more than removing unwanted elements. You can use this tool to subtly remove blemishes, smooth out skin, and eliminate wrinkles from clothing. It takes a little practice, but you’ll find this tool to be one of the most valuable when making these kind of edits to images.