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Photo Retouching with the

Photoshop 5.5 Rubber Stamp Tool

Retouching Brushes

ver the course of the next few opt/alt-clicking on the area you
months, we’re going to delve want to copy. Then, the next time Before we get too deep in our
into Photoshop’s awesome you click the mouse button, you’ll exploration of the Rubber Stamp
retouching tools. We’ll explore all see two cursors—a cross hair and a tool, we need to have a little talk
seven of them and, of course, I’ll circle. Photoshop will copy whatever about your brushes. First off, you’ll
throw in some extra goodies to is under the crosshair and paste want to make sure you get an
make these tools much more useful that information into the circle. accurate view of your brush when
and powerful. You have to be careful because you’re painting, so choose File>
Photoshop only looks at your Preferences>Displays and Cursors,
The Rubber Stamp Tool image once. That means it might then set the Painting Cursors setting
Let’s start off with the class favorite start cloning information that is no to Brush Size (the default setting in
—the Rubber Stamp tool. It copies longer in your image—stuff you Photoshop 5.5). That will make it
from one area of your image and have already covered up with your so that you get a circular cursor
places it somewhere else, effectively cloning. If you’d like it to take a instead of a generic tool icon cursor.
creating a “clone,” which is why so fresh look, then release the mouse If you pop open the Brushes
many people just call it the clone button. That will make your palette (View>Show Brushes),
tool. This can be great for covering changes (cloning) permanent, and you’ll see that you can choose from
up all sorts of defects in your images. then when you click again, soft or hard edged brushes. But
But, before you start retouching, Photoshop will take a fresh look at watch out for those soft edged
you’ll have to indicate what you’d your image. brushes. They are much “softer”
like to clone. You do that by than you might think. The circular

The left side represents the only area

that is 100% opaque, after that your
brush begins to fade out and doesn’t
The Rubber Stamp tool will copy from If Photoshop starts to clone from areas stop until the black gunk ends on the
under the crosshair and paste that info that are no longer in the image, release the right side. Your cursor shows up halfway
into the circle mouse button to have it take a fresh look through the fadeout

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cursor isn’t an accurate representa- Photoshop 5.5 comes with some it easy to spot the areas where you
tion of your brush because it only extra brushes at the bottom of the have retouched because you don’t
shows you where the brush is half- Brushes palette. I think they were often find perfect circles (or straight
way faded out. To see what’s really created by Jack Davis, who wrote lines) in nature. To avoid that, you
happening, take a peek at the special Photoshop Wow Book (Peachpit Press). can create your own “custom”
image I created (opposite page). Even though I think these brushes brushes. Start by creating a new
If you just use the default are cool, they can also get in my way. grayscale document and reset your
settings, you’ll find that a lot of foreground color to black.
grain seems to be destroyed in the Next, choose a soft-edged brush
areas you have retouched. They and click once in the middle of your
will appear to be less sharp than image using the Paintbrush tool.
the rest of the image. You have Now, apply one of Photoshop’s dis-
complete control over how much tortion filters (Filter>Distort>Ripple,
your brush fades out, so just etc.) using very low settings. Finally,
double-click on your chosen brush use the Marquee tool to select that
in the Brushes palette and change area of your image and then choose
the hardness setting. I usually use Define Brush from the side menu
settings between 50 and 70 for of the Brushes palette. I’d use this
retouching, but you should experi- type of brush when attempting to
ment to find which settings work best remove small blemishes that might
for you. Higher hardness settings only take a single click of the
will preserve more grain and do a Delete the bottom brushes by mouse. That way, you won’t see an
cmd/ctrl-clicking on them
better job of blending your retouch- obvious circle where you clicked.
ing into the rest of the image.
I prefer to have the Brushes palette
closed and just use keyboard
commands to change the active
brush. Try it out—just press the
bracket key ( [ ) multiple times and
see what happens in the Brushes
palette. Each time you press it, you
should get the brush that’s to the left
of the one that was active. You can
Left: Hardness=50; right: Hardness=70 also press the end-bracket key ( ] )
to go the other direction.
You might even want to double- Now here’s where those extra
click on all the soft-edged brushes brushes get in the way. If you hold
and set them to the same hardness down the shift key when pressing
Apply the Ripple filter to distort
setting (around 50). Then you can the bracket keys, you’ll get the first your brushes
choose Save Brushes from the side or last brush in the Brushes palette.
menu of the Brushes palette and I usually do that to switch between Now that you have your brushes
give them a name. When you’re hard- and soft-edged brushes, but all sorted out, all you have to do is
done retouching, you can reset those extra brushes at the bottom figure out when to use each one.
your brushes (from the same side get in my way. So, I often delete Well, whenever you are retouching
menu) because you might not like them by cmd/ctrl-clicking on each an area that has a distinct edge that
those brushes for everything. Then, brush. But don’t do it too fast, doesn’t blend into the surrounding
when you’re about to start otherwise Photoshop will think image (crisp edge), you’ll want to
retouching again, all you have to you are trying to double-click a use a crisp-edged brush so your
do is choose Replace Brushes from brush to get its options. retouching stops abruptly. Or, you
the side menu and you’ll be back to There’s another sticking point can make a selection around the
the brushes that have been with Photoshop’s brushes—they edge of the object to make sure you
optimized for retouching. are perfectly round. That can make won’t get any overspray beyond

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that object. Then you could use a soft- Rubber Stamp by pressing the
edged brush to make sure your number keys on your keyboard
retouching blends into that object, (1=10%, 3=30%, 23=23%, etc.).
but doesn’t go beyond its edge. Then
I’d use the odd shaped brushes for
getting rid of any obviously repeated
retouching artifacts, but we’ll talk
about that in a little while. Left: Unsharpened image; right: Auto
I also suggest that you act like a sharpened when scanned
drunk when retouching. Really!
Smooth strokes can be easy to see Left: original image; right: Area under You should also color correct your
eye lightened by cloning from lower skin
whereas erratic strokes blend into area with low opacity image before retouching it. Otherwise
the image (no straight lines to find). it will be much harder to determine
When you run across a straight which areas need work, and you’ll
Don’t Over Do It line that you need to extend, be find that future color correction
When you’re trying to cover up very careful where you clone from. might expose your retouching.
a defect in your image, be sure to Try this out: Press the caps lock key You might also want to click
clone from multiple areas. I usually (which should give you a crosshair), through the different channels of
end up opt/alt-clicking dozens of then move your cursor until it’s your image (Window>Show
times, even if I’m just getting rid of centered on the line and opt/alt-click. Channels) to see if the problem
a small scratch on my image. If you Move to the area where you need area shows up more in one channel
just opt/alt-click once and apply it to apply the line and move your than another. For instance, you’ll
all over the place, then it will cursor into position, BUT, don’t usually find the noise from digital
almost always be obvious because click yet. If you did, you’d be stuck cameras showing up mainly in the
you will see many repeated shapes. with a crosshair the whole time Blue channel. So, why not just
Also, be sure to clone from an you’re retouching. Instead, once retouch that channel and leave the
area that is very close to the area you get the cursor in the right spot, others alone? It can also be useful
you are retouching. That will help release the caps lock key and click to check the channels after you’re
to make the brightness and focus the mouse button without moving done retouching to make sure you
match as closely as possible. the mouse. Then, if you need to don’t see any artifacts (non smooth
clone in a straight line, click once transitions, etc.). When you’re all
and then Shift-click somewhere else done playing with the individual
and Photoshop will connect the channels, then click on the top-
“dots” with a straight line. most channel to get back to a full
color view of your image.
Watch For Sharpening
If you find that most of your
images are difficult to retouch, then
you just might have a scanner that
automatically sharpens your
Right to left; Red, Green, Blue channels
image—mine does. That’s not a
Be sure to clone from many areas when good thing. You’ll want to search
attempting to cover up something. Red
arrows indicate where I would clone from
through your entire scanner Get A Good View
software, clicking on every button Retouching is something you
Sometimes you’ll run across an and searching every menu until really should do when zoomed into
object that shouldn’t be removed you’re sure it’s not sharpening your image; otherwise you can’t
but you’d like to minimize its your images. The second I turned see all the detail. But if you’re like
overall impact. In that case you off auto sharpening on my scanner, me, you’ll still want to get the big
might want to lower the opacity of my retouching work became much picture while you’re retouching.
the Rubber Stamp tool so you don’t easier. Sharpening exaggerates all Thank goodness Photoshop allows
completely cover it up. You can the defects, making it harder to you to have two views of your
quickly change the opacity of the retouch them out. document at once. Just choose

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View>New View and then zoom out Fix Mistakes the change on the layer that’s
on one version and zoom into the If you end up making a mistake active. That also makes it easier to
other. If you’d like a zoomed out in the middle of cloning a large adjust the brightness of the area
view that floats above your area, you’re not limited to undoing you’ve retouched. Just choose
document window, then open the the entire stroke. You can instead Image>Adjust>Levels and move
Navigator palette (Window>Show grab the History Brush (directly to the middle slider to change the
Navigator) and resize it by pulling the right of the Rubber Stamp) and brightness of the area you have
on the lower right corner. It will bring any area back to what it retouched. Levels only works on a
show you which part of the image looked like when you opened it. If single layer, so it will change the
you are looking at by putting a you get a “no” symbol when retouched information without
red box around that area on the attempting to use the History affecting the rest of the image.
thumbnail image. You can even Brush, then you must have either
drag that box to scroll around changed the mode of your image
your image, or Command/ or resized it since you opened it. If
Ctrl-drag on the thumbnail image that’s the case, open the History
to zoom into a particular area. palette (View>Show History) and
click just to the left of the bottom-
most step that isn’t called Rubber
Stamp. You can also select an area,
choose Edit>Fill and select History Use All Layers allows the Rubber Stamp
to clone from all the visible layers and
from the Use pop-up menu. put the result on the active layer

Since the Rubber Stamp usually

only copies from a single layer
Use the Navigator palette to view the (with the Use All Layers checkbox
entire image while you’re zoomed in on
the main image window off), that means you can clone from
one layer and apply the changes to
When you’re zoomed in on your another. Just opt/alt-click on your
image, you can hold the spacebar image when one layer is visible and
to temporarily access the hand tool then make another layer active
to scroll around. Or, if you’d rather before you start applying the
scroll just using your keyboard, retouching. You can even clone
you can press the home key to between documents that are in the
move to the upper left corner of same color mode (RGB, CMYK,
your image, or the end key to get etc.). Just opt/alt-click on any open
Click to the left of the bottom-most history
to the lower right corner. Then step that is not called Rubber Stamp document then apply it to any
you can use the page down key other image. That way you could
to scroll one screenful down, or I find it easier to undo retouching steal the sky from one image and
use shift-page down to scroll by doing it all on its own layer. The apply it to another.
only 10 pixels down. And, of only problem is that with default
course, page up will scroll up settings, the Rubber Stamp tool can Don’t Limit Your Choices
one screenful. To move sideways, only clone from a single layer—the The Blending Mode menu (top
try using cmd/ctrl-page one that’s active. So when you left of the options palette) can be
up and page down. create a new layer, it has nothing to extremely useful when using the
The amount of magnification at clone from. You can instruct Rubber Stamp tool. Darken will
which you view your image is very Photoshop to clone from all the compare the information you are
important. Views that are in incre- visible layers by turning on the Use applying to the area you are
ments of 100% will be the most All Layers checkbox (double-click covering up and only allow the
accurate (100%, 200%, 300%, etc.), on the Rubber Stamp tool to access darker information to show up.
otherwise the view of your image its options palette). When you do That can help to avoid repeated
might appear jaggy when the that, Photoshop will copy from all shapes because you don’t end up
actual image is not jaggy. the layers, but it will only deposit with an exact copy of the area you

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are cloning from—you only get the grain, lighting, shadows, perspective, Make It All Blend In
darker areas. That can make it easier etc. If you find a discrepancy, then Once you’re done making
to cover up bright scratches without you might want to grab the Blur repairs, you can camouflage your
having to be overly careful. Lighten tool, or use the Dodge and Burn retouching efforts by adding noise
will do the opposite, only replacing tools (which we’ll cover in a future to your image. But you don’t want
areas where it can lighten—very Instant Expert article). to use any ordinary noise, so try
You’ll also need to zoom in and this: Start by creating a new layer,
make sure there are no obviously choose Edit>Fill and set the Use
repeated shapes. If there are repeated menu to White. Now choose
areas, then get an odd shaped brush Filter>Noise>Add Noise and use a
(like the custom ones I showed you medium amount with the
how to create) and clone from Monochromatic checkbox turned
multiple areas to cover them up. on. Then choose Filter>Noise>
Left: original; right: top portion retouched
using Darken mode and cloning from But only clone from tiny areas, Despeckle, choose Filter>Blur>
area of diagonal scratch area otherwise you’ll just create more Gaussian Blur and use a setting
repeated shapes. The idea is to somewhere below 1. Now set the
good for retouching dark defects. distort the shape of things instead blending mode of that layer to
When you need to retouch a of trying to completely replace them. Overlay and then lower the opacity
large area, you can expand your until it blends into the image.
options. This is when you’ll want
to stop using the Rubber Stamp
tool and start making selections
and copying to new layers. After
you make a selection, you’ll want
to choose Select>Feather and use a
low setting (between 3 and 5) to
make sure the edge of your
selection blends into the rest of the
image. Then you can choose Layer>
New>Layer Via Copy to place that
Look out for repeated shapes and
area onto a new layer. Use the distort those areas until they are no
Move tool to move it into place. longer identical
Then, don’t be afraid to rotate that
layer, flip it horizontally, or scale it If you’d like to compare the
to fit an area (use the Edit>Transform original version of your image to
menu). Once everything looks right, the retouched version, try this
you can make things permanent by Choose Edit>Fill and set the Use
choosing Merge Down from the pop-up menu to History. Now type
Top; Image with noise added, Bottom;
Layer menu or from the side menu cmd/ctrl-Z multiple times to retouched image without noise
of the Layers palette. You can even switch from the retouched to the
access it from the side menu while unretouched versions of your Another trick is to scan your image
the Layers palette is collapsed at image. If the History option is at a much larger size than it actually
the bottom of your screen. grayed out when trying to fill your needs to be, and then scale it down
image, then you must have resized after performing any retouching.
Check for Consistency or changed the color mode (RGB That way all the retouching is
When you’re done using the to CMYK, etc.). If that’s the case, blended into the rest of the image
Rubber Stamp tool, you might think you can go back multiple steps by and is much more difficult to detect.
you’re done with your retouching typing opt/alt-cmd/ctrl-Z
—not quite. Now you should multiple times and then type The Aligned Checkbox
evaluate how well the retouching cmd/ctrl-Z to toggle between the You might think we’re all done
blends into the rest of the image. old version and the current talking about the Rubber Stamp
Things to look for include: focus, version of your image. tool, but we’re not. We haven’t

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information on talked about the Aligned checkbox
yet. I don’t use this checkbox all the
the products time, but it can be very useful when
you need to duplicate part of you
you see in PEI image multiple times. It can be great
for adding additional buttons to a
is as simple as shirt, extending an unfinished fence,
adding six eyeballs to your forehead,
1-2-3. etc. Just opt/alt-click on the area you
would like to clone and then each
time you release the mouse button,
it will reset the clone tool, forcing it
to clone from the original area.

You must define a pattern before using

the Pattern Stamp tool

Turning off the Aligned checkbox

allowed me to clone the right-most
circle multiple times by just releasing
the mouse button between applications
of the cloning
1 Point your browser
and click on Pattern Stamp Tool Here’s an example of a
PEInfo link… There is another repeatable pattern

2 Search by product tool grouped with the

category, brand Rubber Stamp, just to fill the area where you paint.
name, company click on hold on top of When you use the Pattern Stamp
name, or simply that tool and you’ll tool it will repeat (tile) the pattern
enter the PEInfo find the Pattern Stamp in the areas that you paint.
locator number… tool. This is another I use the Pattern Stamp tool to
3 Choose how you one that I don’t use all add texture to areas and to create
want to receive that often, but it can interface elements where I need a
Click and hold
the information: still be useful. on the Rubber continuous metal look, etc. §
e-mail, postal mail, If you try to learn Stamp tool
to find the
or a telephone call. this one on your own, Pattern
you just might be out Stamp tool
of luck. That is
because the Pattern Stamp tool
It’s Fast, needs you to first define a pattern
before you can use it, otherwise it
Reliable & will just complain every time you
attempt to use it. Ben Willmore is the author of the best-
selling book Official Adobe Photoshop
Hassle To define a pattern, select an
area that you would like to use as a
5 Studio Techniques (Adobe Press)
and the founder of Digital Mastery, a
pattern and then choose Define training and consulting group based
Free. Pattern from the Edit menu. Then,
in Boulder, Colorado. Find out if Ben is
coming to your area with his “Master
when you use this pattern, Photoshop Photoshop In 3 Days” seminar by
will tile that pattern over and over visiting

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