Photoshop For Bloggers: Flatlays & Cloning

It seems that I'm starting series left and right these days and damn it, I plan on sticking to them (like I said I would in my blog and beauty resolutions post.)

As the name implies, this series is all about photoshop for bloggers. The other week I asked on Instastories (@sharmtoaster) if anyone would be interested to see how I photoshopped some extra marble into the photo below, and a few people enthusiastically responded yes, they would like to see it! It looks like magic, but it's actually quite a simple process ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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To do so, all you really need to do is use photoshop's clone stamp tool! I like to think of it as a fancy, customizable copy and paste option for photos.

I primarily use the clone stamp tool with my flatlays in two instances: 1) when I want to expand the background in my photo and 2) when I want to clean up stains and discolorations in my backgrounds. I'll be sharing a tutorial for instance number 1 but the same tutorial can be used for instance number 2.

Some quick notes before I start: The tutorial is very easy if the background of your photo is relatively solid. I say relatively because using a widespread, non-repetitive pattern like marble is easy as it's almost solid colored. But the more complicated your background is, the harder it is to make your cloning look natural. It's not impossible but it takes a lot more patience (read: patience that I do not have.)

Also because of the various keyboard shortcuts of photoshop, I couldn't properly screenshot some of the steps. Instead I had to resort to taking photos of my laptop screen with my phone so apologies in advance for not being consistent with my graphics.

For the tutorial, I'll be sharing how I went from photo A to photo B.

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1. Open your photo.

2. Unlock your background. To do this, go to the layers tab on your right toolbar. When it opens select the layer titled "background" (it'll be the only one there.)
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Double click on the layer and a dialogue box will appear. Click OK to accept the default settings. Now the lock next to the layer should disappear and instead of "background" the name will have changed to "layer 0."
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3. Create a new layer by going to Layer --> New --> Layer. Like you did with the last dialogue box, click OK to accept the default settings.
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4. Select your new layer (probably named Layer 1 by default), by clicking on it and then click the clone stamp tool. The tool looks like a tiny stamp and should be found on the left toolbar.
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5. A little circle should pop up when you click the clone stamp tool. That's your cloner (or at least that's what I'm calling it!)
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6. Adjust the size and hardness of your cloner. Size is pretty self explanatory. You can toggle back and forth on the slider to control how large or small you want your cloner to be. The size totally depends on the size of your photo. I was working with a photo with a width of 3000+ pixel so I went with a cloner around 400ish pixels.
Hardness is basically how harsh the edges of your cloner is gonna be. Here's an example I did with a simple two colored picture. I cloned the pink area atop the white area with three different cloners. The size of the clones are exactly the same but they each have different hardness. As you can tell, the edges on the one with 0% hardness are very soft while the ones with 100% hardness are very crisp.
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Typically when I'm cloning I stick with soft edges (although there are a few instances I'll go with a crisper edge.) For this tutorial I used a soft cloner with around 25% hardness. With higher levels of hardness you run the risk of creating harsh, unwanted lines.

7. The only other setting you have to adjust on your cloner is your sample, aka your source for the cloning. Select "current and below layers" on the top tool bar because your source is your original photo aka layer 0, which is below layer 1 (and if it isn't drag and drop it below layer 1 in your layers tab.)

8. Next up you need to select your actual source for cloning. To do this hold down the "alt" button on your keyboard so that a little target circle appears.

While keeping the "alt" button pressed, click on the area you want to use as your source. For this photo my source was the blank white marble space adjacent to the space I wanted to fill in. If you're think of cloning as a fancy, more personalized version of copy and pasting, your source is essentially what you're copying.

9. After you've selected your source, you're ready to clone. Left click and drag your mouse over the area that you want to "paste" to. It's basically like using the brush tool in ms paint from all those years ago, but instead of painting with a solid color you're painting with another part of your photo.

You might have to select different sources and clone over the same area a few times over depending on how large the area you want to clone is as well as how large the area of your source is.

10. If you have other areas in your photo you want to clone over, repeat steps 7-9.

Like my last photoshop tutorial, this looks like a lot of steps but once you get the hang of it it's easy peasy. All in all it took me less than 5 minutes to do this in real time (and that was with constantly pausing to take the screenshots.)

I hope this was helpful and easy to understand! If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below ๐Ÿ˜Š

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