Hidden power: Mirror your Clone Stamp

Adobe engineer Pat Wibbeler wrote me today with a good suggestion:

The idea is simple: Instead of cloning the region exactly, clone the mirror image of a region. I wanted to do this when repairing an ear in a recent photo. I’d like to have simply cloned the opposing ear in reverse. I accomplished this by copy, pasting, reflecting the “good” ear and then cloning from the mirrored copy. It seems like it would be pretty straightforward to do this automatically and that it would be useful for other applications as well.

What if, I replied, I told you the feature was already in Photoshop, as of CS3? You’re pretty much guaranteed never to find it, though.

Open up the Clone Source panel, then specify a negative number for the width value (e.g. just put a minus sign in front of the “100”). Now Photoshop will flip the source data so that you can clone a mirror image. You can also use the panel to scale & rotate source data without having to select/copy/paste/transform it. This all works with the Healing Brush as well.

For more info & to see the technique in action, check out this video tutorial from Russell Brown.

12 thoughts on “Hidden power: Mirror your Clone Stamp

  1. This reminds me of the defunct 3D program, Infini-D.
    Infini-D didn’t have a command to mirror geometry, but what you could do was make a copy of that geometry and then scale it by a negative value. This would send the object through a mathematical wormhole and it would emerge on the other end as a mirrored copy.

  2. Heh. Well now we know that *somebody* wasn’t paying attention to the hype back in the day 🙂
    You’re right, though–nobody is going to find the whole revamped set of cloning tools without being amongst the Photoshop Faithful.
    Have you guys considered an optional tip-of-the-day screen, ala After Effects?
    [You mean besides this blog? 🙂 –J.]
    Or a workspace mode that automatically opens panels for certain tools (like character/paragraph, 3D, Text, Brushes)? Turns out, a lot of tools have panels…why not?
    [Stand by for some elaboration on that topic in a future blog post. –J.]
    I suppose the toolbar along the top is supposed to have the options we need for most tools…but it’s not very flexible for when a tool has lots of options (this, you know already). So, why not phase it out? Make it optional (for old-timey folk), and have panels for *everything*. Then, give us control over where they dock (including at the top so we can emulate old-school with simpler tools) and which ones auto-open and which ones don’t.
    [Photoshop needs two things: a properties inspector for tools (which it has, but which as you say is limited), and a properties inspector for objects, described here. –J.]
    That’d solve a lot of problems with revealing hidden tool features–kind of like the M$ ribbon, only not evile.
    Cheers 🙂

  3. Excellent tip John. I honestly have never had a need to go into the Clone Source panel before, though I doubt I would’ve figured that out. Always love to find little hidden gems in Photoshop like this!

  4. What I would like to do is to ‘turn’ the clone brush in CS4. Why can’t you build that feature in the brush dynamics? If it there, I can’t get it to work . That would give perfect cloning.

  5. Tip of the day has always annoyed me personally, just another dialogue box interrupting what you are doing and you have to close…
    Buuut Photoshop has empty space up the top (at any decent resolution) – tips, tooltips & brief explanations could go up there if the idea was deemed a good one.

  6. Is this still functioning as of CS5? I just tried putting a minus sign (-100%) and all Photoshop returns with is “A value between 1.0% and 400.0% is required. Closest value inserted.” and it makes the value 1.0%. Hmmm.

  7. i have entered copies of slides which were copied from the wrong side. is there any way i can flip (mirror) them using photoshop elements 10? i’m new at this and it is driving me crazy! am on a mac. can you help or at least direct me to someone who can?
    [Try Image->Image Rotation->Flip Canvas Horizontal. –J.]

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