Retouching Photos

Sometimes photos can be spoiled by having distracting objects in them, such as pieces of litter, animals or other people. The photo might have other blemishes too, caused by dirt or water on the camera lens for example.

It is possible to remove small objects from photos by replacing them with a similar-looking part of the photo.

Using the Clone tool


  1. Open a photo in the GIMP Image Editor

  2. Zoom in to the affected area of the photo
    • The Zoom tool can be selected by clicking the magnifying glass icon on the GIMP tool palette

  3. Select the Clone tool (highlighted on the screenshot)

  4. Hold down the Ctrl key on the keyboard and left-click once on an area of the photo which looks similar to the surroundings of the object you want to remove

    • For example, if you want to remove a bird from the sky in a photo, click on an area of sky of a similar color to the sky around the bird
  5. Release the Ctrl key and move your mouse pointer over to the object you want to remove

  6. Hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse pointer around over the object. It will be replaced by the area of the photo which you selected earlier
  7. Continue moving the mouse until the object has disappeared

See the GIMP Documentation for more information on the Clone tool.


The photo on the left is the original photo. The photo on the right has been retouched - the two birds have been removed.



  • You can change the size of the area used to paint over objects by changing the Brush. In the Tool Options window, press the Brush button to change the brush.

    • If you don't have a Tool Options window, press File -> Dialogs -> Tools to open one.

  • The Clone tool works best when you paint over objects which are on mostly featureless backgrounds (such as the sky, the sea or grass).

  • Take your sample from an area close to the object you are removing, as the light levels should be more similar there.
  • Try to use brush strokes which match with the pattern of the background. For example, if you have a background of vertical stripes, make vertical brush strokes.
  • Change which area of the image your sample is from now and again. This will prevent the photo having two areas which are exact duplicates of one another.
    • For example, if you are painting over an aircraft, paint over a few parts of it with a sample of sky to the left of it and the remainder with a sample from the right.

More Information

Photos/RetouchPhotos (last edited 2008-06-27 12:27:27 by cpc1-with4-0-0-cust272)