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Content Aware Fill

Lesson 33 from: Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Dave Cross

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Lesson Info

33. Content Aware Fill

Next Lesson: Smart Objects

Lesson Info

Content Aware Fill

Here's something that, when I talked before about content aware and said anytime you can find something that has the word content aware in it, this is probably the extreme example of whoever figured this out, at Adobe, is like a genius, because my brain can't even comprehend how this works, because I know what I used to have to do to get this to work. I've taken this photograph. I show it to the couple and they say, "Ah, that's so cute. "Can you just move us over a bit?" (sigh) Move us over a bit. Let's think about that for a second. That means, somehow, select them and move them over and then cover up where they used to be, so it looks like they're not standing there anymore. Which, in the past, would have been make a selection, put them on their own layer, move them over, spend the next 45 minutes using some combination of content aware fill, clone stamp to cover up where they used to be. Now when people say that I'm like, ooh, I don't know. Heh, heh, heh. Because I know I can probab...

ly do a pretty good job. And I say I, like it's me doing it, but I'm not doing it. I just know to use this tool called content aware move. I still wanna use a blank layer. So I still wanna put it on it's own layer. I use this tool, and again, I could have used any selection tool, but I'm gonna use this one as a lasso tool again. Make a very rough selection. In fact, to me it's almost better to not make a really tight selection around them. I'm including some of the surrounding areas. Sample all layer is turned on. I don't need transform on drop. That would mean once I move them, if I want to scale them down a bit, but I don't wanna do that. And I have the blank layer. Then I say I want them to end up over here. So I do that and that is all I have to do, because Photoshop says let me just do a few calculations for you here and see if we can't cover up where they used to be as well. Is it perfect? No, but it's pretty darn good, when you think about how long that would have taken me to say I may clone forever, so I would come in here and healing brush maybe a little bit here and there, but gosh, overall that's pretty amazing. So that's the content aware move tool. The problem is it's so good that now people say, "Oh, well now I know you can just move us over there." It's was like, ahh. Here's my philosophy. When I see Adobe introduce some new feature, I hate to say it, but I always take everything with a little grain of salt. They open a photo and say, look we'll just move this over here and I'm like, yeah, they probably looked through 100 thousand photographs to find one that works that well, which is probably not the case, but anyway. So whenever I try it myself, I always try and pick the most challenging. I figured this would be so challenging, because of all that crazy stone and it worked the first time. I went, okay, that's pretty good. So I would just go in and, again, fix up a little bit. Look what it did though. It generated all of that stone to cover up where they were before. That's pretty crazy that it did that. I'll say it this way. Even at times where it doesn't look perfect, it's usually so good you just do a little quick touch up here and there and you're done. I'm happy to say this time it worked really well. I'll just see if I can get it to-- Maybe if I get it a little closer it'll happen, because there is one thing that sometimes happens you have to be a little careful about, because you sometimes get carried away going look at that, it's so good. Let's see if I can get this to-- It probably won't misbehave for me, just because I'm trying to have it happen. Let's see. It'll do it's little calculations. Did you notice what happened to her face? It just kind of went like, eh, just a little bit. So sometimes when you're moving people it does a nice job of filling the other part, but then you look and go, why does his head look a little taller than it was a moment ago, because sometimes it does a little weird stretching. It didn't do it this time. Often when I demonstrate this, at least one of them, you look at their arm, it has this weird little bend that wasn't there before or something. That doesn't' seem to be happening this time. There we go. See his head now? A little weird. But I had to force that. Often it just happens. But that's why these settings, because they're live, you can say, well maybe that structure one wasn't so let's try four and see if that's better and it kinda redraws it. This only works, by the way, if haven't it deselected. If you've moved on, it's too late. So as soon as you use content aware move or patch, you have to instantly try one of these settings to see if it's any better and if it is then you can deselect and move on. Even in the times where it's not perfect, often it's a really good start. Anything with content aware technology, it's gonna shine with things that are organic, like grass and sand and stone buildings that are kind of random. If it's like a brick wall with very even bricks, the chances of those bricks lining up perfectly is not great. But even if it doesn't line up perfectly, you can still take that layer and nudge that up a little bit, to make it fit. My philosophy on anything with content aware in the name of it, it's definitely worth trying, because a lot of the time it works really surprisingly well. Some of the time it works pretty darn good. And there'll be a few times you're like, eh, okay that didn't work quite so well. But, as you saw, it's still only took like 12 seconds, not 20 minutes of me trying to do something manually. Question? It's kind of the same idea, but I'm picturing a specific thing where if you do a really tight outline, but it's-- You know Mr. Bill? Picture him sitting on a counter, but you move him and now the angle of the counter's off. If you do a really tight outline, can you fix the top surface and then the part where-- Potentially and part of the challenge is you have to kinda play around and see, because sometimes doing a really tight selection works well. Other times being more loose, like this. But the bottom line is, of course, it's still ultimately creating this layer. I didn't finish it off yet, so it's still working on it. That you can then transform a bit, to try and hit the angle to fit. So this is a good starting point, but it's still ultimately generating pixels that you can edit. So that's what it generated? See, there's one example of not so good there. But, at least now you canceled one side and we can rotate them just a hair or do something else or clone something. The great news is it's so automatic, but the also good news is when it's not perfect, it's still just a starting point. From then you can still move ahead with it, try other things.

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Adobe Stock Contributor

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Quick Notes Guide
Landscape Image for Practice Edit
Senior Portrait Missing Element for Practice Edit
Senior Portrait With Element for Practice Edit

Ratings and Reviews


I really like Dave's methodical teaching style. Step by step works best for my learning processes. He also has a lovely voice to listen to during his classes, that is important if you have to listen to someone talk for any length of time. I also like the "dance" he does by explaining what he is going to do, then does it, and then comes back to explaining the choices he made and why. Very, very easy to follow him in his straight forward explanations. He increased my understanding of so many tools I use and so many I have never used. Wow! Photoshop with Dave took away a lot of "fear"! (Wish I had a "happy face" to place here!) I bought this class today because I don't think I can get along without it!

Jim Bellomo

I was so lucky to get to attend this class in person here in Seattle. I have been a fan of Dave's for years and own a number of his courses from Creative Live. When this class was announced I almost decided to skip it since it was listed as a "beginners" class but decided that it "might" be worth it. One of the reasons I wanted to take it was that I am self-taught. I had started with Photoshop 5 (not CS5 but 5) about 15 years ago (at least). I figured it I took this class I might learn a little something that would help me in my work. Well, two days later I have 18 pages of handwritten notes, a whole new way to work and it has already paid off in a huge way in my daily workflow. I bill out my hours at around $100 an hour as a graphic designer and marketing person. That means in the two days that I spent 10 hours a day taking the class and commuting to it, it cost me about $2000 in working time. But it didn't. I can guarantee that I am way ahead on this one. I l learned so much. The real world things I learned will pay off for a very long time. Within one day after the class I had already started changing my workflow to be more non-destructive and faster. Dave is an awesome teacher and I can't say enough good things about this class. Even if you think you know Photoshop, you don't. I teach it in my small world but I learned so much.


A writer and an old person (over 60), I rarely use neat exaggerations like "great" or "fantastic," and never say "awesome" in the currently fashionable manner. However, I would call this class both great and excellently planned. Cross is well-spoken and a consummate teacher with a rarely non-irritating voice. It is information packed, clearly presented, well-organized, and extremely helpful. I wish I could afford his others.

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