Elements Clone Tool

The purpose of the Elements Clone Tool is to remove an object from a picture, add an object to a picture or move an item from one picture to another.

It's a great tool and relatively easy to use, however if someone is ham-handed when using the tool it can make a mess or look very amateurish and we don't want that, do we?

The latest version of Elements (Version 9) has a neat enhancement to the Clone Tool that makes it much easier to use.

The enhancement is Show Overlay - but first - here's the image that we will be working with.

elements clone original

Some comments ...

The picnic bench just isn't in tune with the feeling that this canon is there to protect our shores from some gathering hordes.  The canon certainly makes me feel more secure!

The picture needs some other tender love and care above and beyond a treatment of the Elements Clone Tool.

Show Overlay

Here's the Options Bar when the Elements Clone Tool is selected and clicking on the little box

elements clone option bar

on the right end of the box (outlined in red) will bring up more options ...

elements clone overlay

With the Show Overlay box checked and a source point selected, this is what you will see ...

elements clone overlay

What this does is show you what the result of your cloning will be before you do the work!  Isn't that great?

OK - now back to working with the image to eliminate the picnic bench and make an overall improvement.

Removing The Picnic Bench

The easiest way to use the elements clone tool to remove the picnic bench (or whatever you are removing) is to ...
  1. Use a Wacom pen (Bamboo or Intuos) to do the work.
  2. Select a soft edge brush that changes opacity with pressure.
  3. Change to a hard edge brush around areas that are very different from one another (like the picnic table and the sand).
  4. Clone to a new layer and make sure Sample All Layers is checked.
  5. Zoom in close and work slowly.
  6. Change the Source point often to avoid making patterns.  The Source point is created by Alt-tapping (or Alt-left clicking) on the part of the image that you want to use to cover the imperfection.
  7. With Aligned checked the Source pint will follow the pointer and with Aligned not checked the Source will always return to where you originally set it each time you lift the pen (or release the left mouse button).
  8. With something like the picnic bench it's possible to make a patch with the Rectangular Selection Tool, promote it to a new layer and use the Move Tool to cover the offending item (in this case the picnic bench) and then use the clone tool to eliminate the harsh lines.
  9. Practise, practise, practise.  Work with the Clone Tool in a variety of different situations to figure out where it works the best.  The tendancy may be to use the Spot Healing Brush is every situation but it is not the best choice all of the time - especially when working with a hard edge.

elements clone picnic bench

You can see the guidelines at work in this partially finished screen capture.  The brush set to change opacity with pressure does not entirely remove the bench with one stroke - it takes a few passes with the pen and what that does is create a nice seamless elements clone.

The result of using a soft edge brush is apparent on the bottom edge of the picnic table.

Here's the image after a combination of making a patch and cloning.

elements clone after patching and cloning

Now I feel much more secure seeing that anyone who mans this awesome deterrent will not be distracted by goodies on a picnic bench.

Now for changes to the overall image.

Image Improvement

The first three steps are ...
  1. Flatten the image.
  2. Duplicate the Background.
  3. Change the Blend Mode to Screen (the lightening Blend Mode).
To arrive at this result.

elements clone lighten

The Screen Blend Mode does a great job lightening the overall picture and that has created another problem - the sky is now much too light, isn't it?

This can be addressed with another Blend Mode - Multiply.

To do this simply drag the top layer to the new layer icon and then change the Blend Mode of the new layer to Multiply (the darkening Blend Mode).

elements clone multiply blend mode

Oops - it seems the image is now darker than it was before.  Looks like the Multiply Blend Mode did it's job!

The good thing is that the excessive darkening can be resolved with a Layer Mask.

elements clone layers paletteTo add a Layer Mask make sure the top layer that is set to Multiply is selected and then click on the Add Layer Mask icon (outlined in red) at the bottom of the palette.

This will add the layer mask to the top layer and it will be filled with white so you will not seen any change to the image.

The objective here is to keep the dark sky that was created with the top layer set to Multiply and bring back the lighter parts of the image - foreground, water, canon and trees.

elements clone tool layer mask

To bring back the lighter parts of the image add a Layer Mask to the top layer, set the foreground color to black, grab the paint brush, select a brush that changes opacity with pen pressure and paint over the parts that need to be lightened.

Here's the picture after all of the different modifications that have been done.

elements clone masked

With these changes the image is pretty much where I would like it to be. 

Other Changes

This image can be further modified with some additional techniques and it all started with the Elements Clone tool..

The Style Match in the Guided Edit tab can give some interesting results.  Here's the result after doing a Style Match with one of the sample pictures in Elements 9 (Color Truck.jpg).

elements clone tool style match

This just wouldn't be as interesting with that picnic bench stuck smack dab in the middle of the picture, would it?

Elements Clone Tool
Page Links

Show Overlay

Removing The Picnic Bench

Image Improvement

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