Graphics - Stamping tools

Sophisticated users may try the lasso or masking options, but sometimes these techniques can be time-consuming and can produce mixed results. Even if you successfully cut out the unwanted part of the image, it will still leave a hole that needs filling. A similar problem occurs if you want to duplicate a section of an image. Pasting an object can leave obvious signs that an addition has been made.

With a stamping tool, you select a part of an image that you want to sample and then paint that sampled area to another part of the image. Rather than paint a single colour, it copies the pixels as they are laid out in the sampled area.

More importantly, the sampled area also moves relative to the starting point. This enables the stamper to become a sophisticated pasting tool and an even more powerful eraser. By copying other sections of the image you maintain many of the lighting and texture effects.

Depending on the image, you can remove scratches, camera-man shadows, even add or remove wrinkles and pimples.

There are two types of common stamp tools: one will copy part of an image, the other will paint a pattern. To switch between the two options in Photoshop, click on the stamper icon and hold down the mouse button until a pop-out menu appears, then select the one you want. The LE edition only gives you one choice, so there is no need for this step.

Tips and tricks

The best way to learn how to use the stamping tool is to experiment with a range of images.

Each time you click, drag and let go, Photoshop will remember that as the last undo. In the LE version you are only allowed one undo, so watch this carefully.

Try to pick an area that closely matches the tone and natural shape of the area you are copying. This can help blend the changes into the image and is particularly important when working with the fine tones of faces.

For more advanced options and blend-ing techniques in Photoshop's stamping tool, click on the Options palette and the drop-down menu (if the floating options palette is not visible, click on Window-Show Options).

Depending on the options you have selected, the size of an image can affect the stamper's performance. Large pictures will often give the tool the ability to touch up fine details, however, large areas can take more time. With smaller images the reverse applies - it is hard to touch up fine detail, but large blocks are easy to copy.

The rubber stamp tool can be used to help remove obvious borders or contrasts when a new object is pasted into an image.

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