Clone Stamp vs Healing

Recently I was discussing removing shots from the face of a model using a photo-editor and there came a question – What is the difference between a Clone Stamp Tool and a Healing Tool? These both do seem to work in the same manner.

Snow Peaks

(There were some spots due to dust on sensor in the above photograph. These were removed using a healing tool. Would a clone stamp tool have worked as well? Read on to find out.)


Clone Stamp Tool

This tool takes a sample from one area and copies it to another. The copied area is an exact clone of the place from where it is copied. The name for the tool looks obvious now, doesn’t it? For using this tool – first an area is selected for taking the sample. The sample is selected by pressing ‘Alt’ key on the keyboard and simultaneously clicking on the area for selection. Now after releasing the alt key, the brush starts painting a clone of the sampled area. The first click of the clone tool after releasing the ‘alt’ key determines the distance between the sample area and the area to be painted. While moving the brush around, the clone stamp tool, maintains the same distance between the sampling area and the place where it is being painted on. The sampling area therefore moves in the same manner as the brush strokes where the clone is being painted on. All the regular settings like opacity, hardness of brush etc… work like they do with any other brush.

Green Glass Cloned

(The green glass on the lower left quadrant was cloned from the one on the top right, using the Clone Stamp Tool. The original image is the one below)

Colored Glass Panes

(Colored Glass panes, as they originally were)


Healing Tool

Healing brush also works on the above principle of taking a sample and painting it but with some differences. It takes the texture from the sampling area and the hue is lifted from the area adjoining to where the brush is actually painting. The color of the sampling area does not matter. Now when the brush moves around the photograph, unlike the clone stamp tool, the sampling area does not change the healing brush. It always starts at the same place which was selected while sampling.


(For this example, I copied the texture from the green glass into the center of the white glass pane using the Healing Tool. Notice that the design is from the green glass but the color is what the program calculated from the white glass pane with some green reflections)


(Going another step further, I painted the same selection using the Healing Tool on a part of the wooden frame above the white glass. Again, the texture remained the same as that from the selection in the green glass but the color is from the dark brown wooden frame)

As is with the Clone Stamp tool, all the regular settings like opacity and hardness/softness of brush are available with the Healing Tool too.


Another Example

Bird on apple tree

(In the photograph above, the leaves near the tail and the branch behind the beak were not required. In the photograph below, these were removed using the cloning tool and then the texture was merged with the surroundings using the healing tool)

Bird on apple tree

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