There are many useful retouching tools and commands within Photoshop CS4. Generally you can go a long way by learning how to use the most popular ones, then adding others to your repertoire as needed. Retouching in this context means making changes to the content of the image beyond global changes to tonality or color (such as running the Levels command or the Hue & Saturation command on the entire image).
More specifically, most of these tools change the appearance of details or textures within your image. Pixels are modified, moved, scrunched, and smoothed in various ways to create a slightly new variation of your image. The trick is to use the retouching tools in a way that does not produce out-of-place or unrealistic-looking images. Those in the fashion photography world not withstanding, the goal of a good photo retoucher is to create improvements that blend in with the original textures and character of the image, without drawing unwanted attention to themselves.
The most important thing to remember when retouching with any of the tools you're about to learn? Work on a separate image layer! By maintaining your original background layer in its unaltered condition, you always have a reference point in your file to fall back on should you need to start over or revert part of the image to its original state.
The Clone Stamp (see Figure 18.1) is a long-time favorite of Photoshop users. Its purpose is simple: to copy a region of ...