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      The clone tool, as its name suggests, copies something in one part of a picture and reproduces it somewhere else on the picture.

      All of the major image-editing programs have a clone tool. Here I'll explain how to use the clone tool in IrfanView (the free image-editor I use for most of my basic editing).

      Regarding the images above, one day I spotted a couple of neighborhood youngsters playing with an umbrella – so I stopped and took their picture (Image No. 1). (The original snapshot had a lot of extraneous background, which I cropped to create Image No. 1 seen here.)

IrfanView's 'Paint' Toolbar
Irfanview Paint Tools
      The original picture of the umbrella kids was fine the way it was, but I decided to put the children closer together. Using IrfanView's clone tool, I set the image-copying area to a 40x40-pixel square area. Then I right-clicked the gray block wall above the girl, followed by left-clicking the corresponding brown fence area to her left.

      With the left-mouse-button still being pressed, I moved the cursor straight down to the bottom of the picture. This cloned a 40-pixel-wide swath from the top of the fence to the bottom of the picture.

      I set the the number of pixels to 40x40 because the gray block section just happened to be 40 pixels wide. However, I could have chosen, say, 20x20 pixels and then moved the cursor from side to side as I dragged it down to the picture's bottom.

      Then I released the left mouse button and moved the cursor to the left of the boy, where I right-clicked the top edge of the brown fence. Next, I left-clicked the corresponding height on the wall and doorway on the right side of the girl. Finally, I held the left mouse button down as I cloned the fence and wall to cover the doorway and the original image of the girl in front of the gray blocks.

      The cloning in this case was fairly easy to do because the various elements of the original picture were relatively straight and parallel to the top and bottom edges of the photo. Had the shot been taken from an angle, the cloning would have been more of a challenge.

      Nonetheless, I have found the cloning tools in the various image-editing programs I have used over the years to be quite indispensible.

      In fact, there have been times when I cloned something from one picture onto an entirely different picture. I did this after first placing the two images side-by-side and merging them into a single image.

      With most image-editors 'cloning' can also be accomplished by mouse-selecting an area, copying it, and then pasting it somewhere else on the picture.

      However, if something is selected and copied in IrfanView, subsequently pasting it simply deletes the original image and replaces it with the copied selection. My hope is that someday IrfanView will let us selectively copy and paste individual sections of pictures as do other image-editors.

Click for More Illustrated Help on Using IrfanView

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