6 tips for cloning and using the spot removal tool in Lightroom

Photoshop has long been the tool of choice for large cloning jobs.  However, in the last few years, Lightroom has really made HUGE improvements to it's Spot Removal tool.  I will now do most all my cloning in Lightroom and take fewer images to Photoshop which is a huge timesaver.

Where to find the clone, heal, or spot removal tool in Lightroom

Using the Spot Removal tool can be a little tricky and you may not get perfect results the first time you use it.  These 6 tips will help you get the most out of Lightroom's Spot Removal Tool.

1. Move Your Source Spot

Lightroom will automatically choose the spot to use to replace the area you are trying to remove. However, many time this spot will not be the best option.  You can move the spot by clicking and dragging it to a new and better location.  

2. Hide Your Pins

If you are doing a lot of Spot Removal, you may end up with LOTS of Spot Removal circles.  This becomes a problem because if you need to fix an area right next to a a place you have already cloned or healed, Lightroom won't let you start your clone job.  To fix this, type the "H" key to hid your previous Spot Removal areas.  If you want to see the circles again to adjust them, type the "H" key again to bring them back.

3. Use the / (Forward Slash) to Adjust the Source Location

Lightroom automatically chooses your source spot.  If you aren't happy with the location Lightroom chose for you, pressing the / key will have Lightroom choose a new spot.  It's an alternative to dragging the spot to a location of your choice, like I mentioned above.

Adjust the Spot Removal Feather and Opacity Sliders

4. Adjusting the Feather

Feather refers to the hardness or softness of the edges of your cloning or healing tool.  By default, it is probably set to a really soft edge brush.  In order to do a big cloning job, you are sometimes going to want a hard edge brush (feather set to 0), a soft edge brush (feather set to 100), or somewhere in between.

When cloning next to the hard edges of your image (or subject), you are likely going to want a harder edge brush.  When cloning out acne or spots on a subject's clothing or the background will likely be best with a softer brush.  When cloning out large objects in your photo, you will get the best results by playing around with the amount of feather in your brush.

5. Adjusting the Opacity

For most cloning or healing jobs you will want the opacity set to 100%.  However, when you are cloning wrinkles on your subject, having your opacity set to 100% may make your subject look a little too perfect or plastic.  Adjusting the opacity will fix this problem.  By adjusting the opacity, you are blending the two layers together and allowing the original area to show through.

How to switch between the Clone and Heal Options in the Spot Removal Tool

6. Switch Between the Clone and Heal Options

With the Spot Removal Tool selected, you have the ability to choose whether your tool is a Clone or Heal tool.  The clone option replaces the area with an exact replica of the area.  The Heal tool gives you a more blended option. Depending on what you are using the Spot Removal Tool for, one or the other may work better.  If one isn't working, switch over to the other.

Bonus Tip 

Once you are finished using the Spot Removal Tool, especially if it was a large cloning job, use the Skin Smooth brush from the Perfect Portrait Brushes to help blur the edges and reduce the clarity of the area you are cloning.

Jessica Foreman has created some wonderful videos about cloning!  You can check out her tips and watch her clone below!