How to retouch perfect natural looking skin using the clone stamp tool

Jul 4, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to retouch perfect natural looking skin using the clone stamp tool

Jul 4, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There’s a lot of fuss about the overuse of Photoshop and retouching these days. But sometimes it needs to be done, or you just want to. Perhaps you have to clean up a little makeup or get rid of a stray hair or two. Maybe a temporary blemish like a zit or a cut. There’s many different ways to do it, but here’s one I typically tend to avoid. And that’s the clone stamp tool.

I have a love hate relationship with the clone stamp tool. I tend to prefer using the healing brush tool, and only use the clone stamp when I absolutely have to. Mostly because I can never get the clone stamp tool to do exactly what I want. This video tutorial, though, is starting to change my mind. It comes courtesy of photographer and retoucher Zoë Noble, and it’s extremely good.

YouTube video

This 9 minute video goes through Zoë’s whole clone stamp process. And while the changes are subtle, they’re very effective. Skin still looks like skin. There’s no obvious spots where one part of the face has been copied to another. It just evens things out for a cleaner result.

Subtle seems to be a common theme with Zoë’s methods. We saw the same with her tutorial on colour grading with luminosity masks. A lot of little changes that add up to a great big beautiful final result. Zoë says in the video that she also plans to eventually impart the rest of her retouching workflow process in future videos. So, I shall definitely be looking forward to seeing those.

If you can’t wait and just want to see more of Zoë’s work, you can head on over to her website or Instagram. She’s produced work for brands including Vogue, Glamour, GQ and ASOS, so it’s well worth a look.

I think my main problem with the clone stamp tool is that I just forget about the blend modes. Which is odd, really, because I use them all the time with the healing brush tool. I’m definitely going to have to revisit the clone stamp tool and put in some serious practise.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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4 responses to “How to retouch perfect natural looking skin using the clone stamp tool”

  1. Dušan DuPe Pethö Avatar
    Dušan DuPe Pethö

    No retouch

  2. Kenneth Rivenes Avatar
    Kenneth Rivenes

    Perfect natural looking skin does not need retouching :D

    1. Duncan Knifton Avatar
      Duncan Knifton

      ^^THIS !

  3. Marc Weisberg Avatar
    Marc Weisberg

    Phenomenal tutorial. Thank you so much.