Why Won’t My Clone Stamp Work? Here’s the Fix!

Photoshop can be a little involved sometimes. You think you have the hang of it and then something stops working. Let’s get your clone stamp going again.

Photoshop Clone Stamp Tool commonly stops working for the following reasons:

  • The Incorrect Layer is selected
  • A Mask is Selected
  • The Sample Settings are incorrect
  • The Sample Area is Empty
  • The Tool Needs to be Reset

In this article, I will explain the possibilities of why the Clone Stamp Tool is not working and how to fix the issue.

The Incorrect Layer is Selected

When using any tool in Photoshop it’s easy to get confused about which layer you are currently working on. Photoshop automatically creates layers each time you copy and paste, or if you select the Text Tool. Unlike other Adobe products where you have to Click New to create a new layer.

The most common mistake when using the clone tool is the incorrect layer is selected. 

Open your Layers Panel.

Select the Correct Layer 

Select Your Clone Tool

The clone tool won’t work on a text layer. If you want to clone text you will have to select the Marquee tool and select each letter and then on a new layer fill the selection with a color or paste it into the image. This text is now a flat piece of an image and you can clone it as an image.

A Mask is Selected

After selecting the correct layer for cloning, make sure that the layer is not locked or hidden. Then check if it is a masked layer.

To use the clone tool you need to have the Image selected and not the mask.

It’s always good practice to duplicate the layer you are going to adjust. This way anything you clone will be on a new layer with the original still intact. It can then be easily adjusted if you need to start over. This layer can then be merged when you have finished the project.

Incorrect Sample / Tool Settings

Your Clone Tool has to have certain settings in place before it will work correctly. 

When you select your Clone Tool there are different options to choose from at the top.

Current Layer

Current and Below

All Layers

This selection is dependent on what exactly you’re cloning. If you have, as I suggested created a new layer then you will need to select Current and Below (and ensure that the below is what you wish to clone.)

If you are cloning directly on a layer then the Current Layer needs to be selected.

It will more than likely hang on to your last selection, so this may be why you can’t figure out your clone tool.

Your clone tool works in conjunction with your brush settings. Select your clone tool and then look at the top of your page panel. The settings need to be adjusted so your clone tool will work.

You need a medium-sized tip to be able to Clone correctly. If the size is too small this could be why you can’t get it to work. It actually is cloning but the selection size is so small you can’t see the difference.

The hardness needs to be in the upper range of the %. And the Brush Style selected should be a soft edge. You can choose a hard edge but it depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you are removing something (a person or an object) for example you don’t want the edges to be too obvious, so better to choose a soft edge for a better-blended effect.

The opacity and flow also need to be 100%. You may have changed this previously. If you are cloning and only getting a faint replicate this is generally because the opacity and flow are very low. Your blending mode needs to be Normal. Again you may have previously adjusted this to do a separate task.

The Clone Source. Within the Clone tool, you can open the Clone Source Panel. Here you can adjust your clone settings further by adjusting offset positions or rotation points. It’s not a reason for the tool not to work but it’s good to know you have further options.

Your Sample Area

You must decide what it is that you are cloning. Sometimes the Clone Tool is not where you think it is. This can be because the Marquee Tool has a tiny area selected without you realizing it. You’re selecting the Clone Tool, clicking Alt / Option and nothing is happening.

Go to Select Click Deselect

Now try your Clone tool again.

The other reason maybe you have clicked on an area that is empty or transparent. Click on your image and then click where you wish to have your copy (or where you wish to remove an item).

I find that sometimes I have to return to the sample area a couple of times and reclick as you have run out of image so to speak or your cursor may be at the edge of the artboard, or now on a transparent section.

So keep returning to the sample area, if this is the case, to complete your clone.

Reset the Clone Tool

The very last option is to reset your clone tool. If you have any presets or preferences for your clone tool these will be lost with a reset.

But sometimes needs must. Glitches enter the program and you need to get it back in check.

Select the Clone Tool. In the Clone Panel, select the Settings or Gear Option.

In the pop-out panel scroll to Reset Tool

This will bring your Clone Tool back to its original Default State.

As I say, hopefully, you have got to the bottom of why your Clone Tool is not working or behaving as it should.

Here are some other posts you might find useful:

What are the advantages of layers?

Why can’t I type in Photoshop?

Tara Cunningham

My name is Tara. I am a Graphic Designer for the last 25+ years. Designing everything from Wedding stationery to Magazines. I have been using Adobe products since I was in college and know all the tips and tricks that make life a little easier when completing a project. Hopefully you will find the answer to your question on PurpleHotKeys.com

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