Sans Cloning Tutorial

(for all photo editing programs with "Layer" capability)

Sans Cloning "without cloning" by Ron Lemire

Better Cloning without the Clone Tool

This tutorial will show you an alternative way of removing defects from an image without using the Clone tool.

When you want to change something in an image invariably you reach for the clone tool. The clone tool is an excellent tool in Photoshop, but all too often it leaves unsightly 'Clone tracks' to spoil your final image. If blurring, repetitive patterns and 'unnatural' grain left by the Clone tool has you pulling out your hair, try making your repairs using Sans Cloning.

--- Sometimes there is a better way.

This picture is a portion of an image taken from the RetouchPro Archives labeled "Lotsolegs.jpg" (a class photo here).

This exercise is not to repair the "Lotsolegs" photo but to demonstrate a repair technique that does not use the Clone Tool.

Step One

After opening our image it is duplicated and name "Layer 1".

Next the background is hidden and another duplicate layer is made and named "Layer 1 copy".

Step Two

With "Layer 1 copy" active, the opacity is set to 50% and the Move Tool selected.

"To match the pattern of this window the right arrow key was depressed 12 times until the window grid pattern overlapped exactly (the arrow key moves the selection 1 pixel at a time)".

To repair other pictures using this technique, "Layer 1 copy" might need to be shifted (up/down/left/right) for it to work properly.

Step Three

After "Layer 1 copy" has been shifted to a new position the opacity of "Layer 1 copy" is reset back to 100% and "Layer 1" is moved above "Layer 1 copy".

Note that "Layer 1" is now selected.

By the way....

(Changing the opacity of "Layer 1 copy" is only done for a visual reference to the move).

Step Four

Repairs can now begin.

With a soft setting on the Eraser Tool (50%) and opacity of 100%, a size just large enough to cover the defect is used.

The Eraser Tool is drawn down the tear.
Like magic the rip vanishes before your eyes!

"By originally moving "Layer 1 copy" to a position that exactly overlapped the window grid the rip completely disappears".

Step Five

The Eraser Tool continues to remove all of the defects in the picture.

As you can see all of the edges are straight, sharp and crisp. There are no Clone tracks and it would be difficult to find evidence of blurring or loss of detail.

The final step in this procedure is to Merge all Visible Layers. If further clean up is required, duplicate "Layer 1" again and move "Layer 1 copy" in a different direction and repeat the process.


This procedure can be used to remove many of the photo defects you might run into. It is a great way to extend a tree line or replace missing photo edges. It's also invaluable to remove rips and tears, electrical wires, poles, posts, facial blemishes as well as all manner of blobs and splotches.

P.S. This Sans Cloning technique works in Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, and PhotoPaint.  It should work in most programs that allow layers.

The Photos used in this tutorial came from the archives of RetouchPro.....

RetouchPro is the ultimate site for anyone interested in photo/image retouching, repairing or enhancing. The site has a member forum where all manner of photo subjects are covered. The site also has tutorials and a photo archive of rare and damaged photos. RetouchPro sponsors "Restoration", "Retouching", "Manipulation" and "Gallery" Challenges where you can meet the challenge and compare your skill with other members within a moderated format.

RetouchPro is managed and moderated by Doug Nelson with help from a team of dedicated member moderators providing additional feedback.
Tutorial Copyright © 2001 Ron Lemire
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