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Content Aware Functions

  • Content Aware is an interesting concept. Theoretically you can have Photoshop fill or replace an area with the surrounding area (kind of like the Healing Brush). In the practical world, you usually get a muddy, partly retouched result.
  • I know, all of the video samples show perfect results, but in the real world it usually causes more problems than it fixes.
  • Content Aware Fill only works well with large areas of fine texture or color, such as skies or grass.
  • The new feature Content Aware Move is far from perfect. I personally do not recommend it. In the long run, cloning to fix the area will take less time and give a better result.
  • Content Aware Extend works pretty well in most cases, making short things longer.
  • Content Aware Scale is very good. It allows you to protect parts of an image while you either squish or stretch the remainder of the image. Good for re-composing a scenic with focal point objects in it and too much extra space.

Content Aware Functions

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:07
  • Content Aware Fill 1:39
    • Using the Content Aware Fill
  • Content Aware Move 8:10
    • Using the Content Aware Move
  • Content Aware Scale 11:30
    • Content Aware Scale: Demonstration 1
    • Content Aware Scale: Demonstration 2
  • Content Aware Extend 17:30
    • Content Aware Extend: Demonstration 1
    • Content Aware Extend: Demonstration 2
  • Lesson Summary 21:34

Transcription: Content Aware Functions

Hi everyone, Mike Brown back again, welcome back to educator.com's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

In this lesson we're going to talk about Content Aware functions, and why I say functions, not necessarily tools, under the Healing tools; the Spot Healing Brush, Healing Brush and Patch tool now all work with what's called Content Aware, which means when they do their healing, they look around the area in a sophisticated manner to determine what to blend with.0007

The new tool here is the Content Aware Move tool; this is new for Photoshop CS6, and it has two modes available; move and extend--we will talk about both of those.0034

Now, Content Aware functions also apply to the Edit menu under Fill and Content Aware Scale, and let me very quickly just go to an image here and just talk about Content Aware.0048

What this means is when you do a retouch, such as when I draw an area around here, and I need to move or do a function, what the computer will do is it will look outside of the selection at the surrounding area and analyze that in a very sophisticated fashion to determine what it's going to do to attempt to retouch inside the area you want to correct--I'll show you how this works.0067

So let's get started by looking at Content Aware Fill.0099

OK, I'm going to go to this image right here, which I shot at a friend of mine down at the beach, and the first thing I want to do is a little crop, so I'm going to rotate.0106

If you remember, get the horizon straight, and I'm going to move the crop back out because I want a little more--I want more sky in here, and I'd like just a little edging down here...and maybe just a little over here--I'm going to move a little more in the ocean because I want to show you something here.0120

OK, and I'm going to click Enter, and now I've got it cropped the way I like it but you can see we have blank areas because the image was rotated, so we're going to use what's called Content Aware Fill, and I'm going to start with the sky.0139

We'll take the Lasso tool and make a loose selection around the blank area--now you can go outside the borders of the image and the selection will snap back.0154

What we're trying to do here, is we want to fill this in--now I could very simply with the Clone tool retouch the sky because it's pretty uniform, but I can do this more quickly in this case because it's uniform.0167

Under the Edit menu I will go the Fill, and under the Fill you can use foreground color, background color, another color, patterns, black, 50% gray/white or Content Aware, and that means that the computer's going to look around outside the boundary here, see what things look like, and try to replicate that inside.0184

When I click OK it'll cook for a moment, and it will fill that, hopefully, in a good fashion...0208

With the sky area and do a good job--it's a fairly large image so it's taking a little time to think, and it's a large piece of area...0219

And it's still thinking--it's almost there, and there we have it, and if you look--let's zoom it up and take a look...you cannot even tell that anything was done!0228

It did a great job and it did it faster than if I had just done retouch, so in that situation it worked really well because it was a nice, uniformed area.0242

Now, one of the good things about the new Content Aware Fill is, in the old days, since it was working with the edge of an image, it would usually have a little problem--you might get this little haloing and dark looking area--you notice how clean that is, so that worked beautifully up there, and the point I'm making is it works well with either a tonal consistency or a texture that's the same in all spots.0254

Now we're going to try it over here with the ocean, and see what happens at the corner of this image.0283

Now we're just going to pick mostly the ocean area to start with--we don't want to try to have it do a real complex one all at one time, so I'm just going to go around the ocean...and go to the Edit menu down to Fill, Content Aware and click OK and see what happens this time.0290

We'll go Command+H, and from a distance it looks pretty good, but when you get up close, you can actually see a sharp edge of the selection area but it did fill it pretty well.0308

You notice how well it extended the area, so unless you're being really picky, I can de-select that and I could take my retouch and I could very quickly just go in at a few of the little spots where it shows that edge and clean that up, and it actually did a pretty decent job.0326

There's a couple of spots here where it didn't--you notice I'm just doing it in a couple of little spots, and there we go!0348

That did a nice job on that section of it.0354

Now let's try down here...and move on a little more complex area and see what happens this time--I'll just go down to the water's edge--go Edit Fill, click OK with Content Aware again, and see what happened.0357

It's not too bad, but again we've got that edge but it did a pretty good job with the rest of it so I'll de-select, take my Retouch tool and just do a little quick cloning down along that obvious edge, but I don't have to do a lot, you notice it's just a few little spots; it did a pretty decent job, and there we got that, the rest of it is just fine, so it saved me a lot of time so far.0373

Let's try down here, and see what happens with the edge--and you notice along the edging again, that's the point I want to make, where it transitions at the very edge of the image it's nice and clean, in previous version it didn't do that good a job.0405

Edit, Fill, Content Aware, let's see what happens this time...0421

Now we have a little bit of blurriness, but basically again it did a good job, and I take my Clone tool, and I see a couple of obvious spots that were a little blurry and I just fixed those--a little repetition there, and I could add a little bit more there, and again look what happened--it saved me a lot of time--it wasn't perfect, but it did a good job and we get the same result over here.0427

The point I'm going to make now is that's how the fill works; with very uniform areas it's beautiful, complex areas it does a pretty good job but you need to do a little bit of additional retouch, but look, we've got a really nice image out of that.0454

That shows you how the Content Aware function works--it's under the Edit menu, Content Aware under the Fill.0468

Be careful with it, play with it, it will save you time, that's the whole point here--it is a time saver, not a complete magic button, so that's Content Aware Fill.0476

Let's take a look at the Content Aware Move tool, and we're going to try that one...0491

Over here on the same image again...0500

And I'm going to, first off I want to move her just for the fun of it, I want to move this image outward--actually want to back here up, so we're going to take the Lasso tool and do that same loose--I'm going to do it down here because I'm going to back her up into the sand just a little bit...0504

Select her, and this time we're going to go over to the new tool--the Content Aware Move tool.0526

Under Move mode, and I'm going to do it under--you have a strict, in other words, this is going to compute very carefully, not so carefully, very little bit, and you can change these after the fax, so we'll start with medium, and all we have to do is click and drag her over and drop her...and see what happened?0532

The edges didn't work very well--of course we dropped her on there but the fill-in area, you notice is pretty blurry, so it didn't do a great job on that one.0555

Let's try this girl instead...and move her out (I think that's a girl) move out a little further into the water like about there, and there you can see how the Move works.0566

It tries to fill in the areas, and in some cases it does a reasonably decent job, and let's see what happens here if we change the adaptation to strict and see if the edges clean any better.0581

Let's go a little looser...let's go very strict...now the very strict cleaned up the edges around this person a little better, so I go in again--you still have to do a little retouch, and I just do a little quick retouch down the side there--most of it looked pretty good, and that takes care of that and we have the soft areas over here.0595

A little bit of retouch on that...and it's pretty much taken care of--a little blur back in there and a little bit more there, and there we moved the person out just a little bit further, but you see we had to do a little retouch because it's such a large area that it's working with.0617

If we had two people standing in a field of grass where it was completely uniform and you move them from one spot to another, you would have no problem with using this tool because the area all around is pretty much similar and all of the area from where you're taking it from is also similar--it would fill that in beautifully, so this doesn't work great with complex objects, but it does with uniform areas.0640

We could try this right here...on the one--have we done scale yet?0666

We haven't done the scale yet, so I'll wait on that one a moment, but that's one look at Content Aware Move--you see how it works; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, you also need to make sure that you play with the adaptation methods when you're doing it.0673

Alright, so let's move forward into Content Aware, I'm going to do a scale first, and then we'll come back to extend, so we're going to work with Content Aware Scale, and we're going to work right here on this image first, I'm going to duplicate the background layer.0690

This is an image that there's a lot of vacant space in here--there's two ways we can do this--we could try that Move tool and move her over and then crop the image, but there's a much easier way; watch this.0707

Take that Lasso tool, make that same loose selection like we did before...and now we have the selection, we're going to save it as an alpha channel--if we look under our channels here, there is our saved selection.0722

I'm going to de-select that...we're going to go to Edit, Content Aware Scale, and you see the bounding box came in around the entire image, we could scale it down to an exact size by filling in these boxes, but we're just going to leave it loose and we'll do it ourselves.0743

In this box here, if you're working just with a person, it will protect skin tones...in this case we're going to protect the alpha channel, which is her entire image.0763

Now watch what happens now...all we do is scale it, and notice that she's not changing--it's just squishing up the background.0775

We got all the way just about to a square crop, you can see that now--it's 1090x1000, let's go 1078--it's giving you the dimensions, we'll go right down to 1000 even...0785

There we go, it's a perfect square, we're going to click OK...and let it cook.0802

What it did, and we'll look around the edge of her once this is transformed and you will see that it retouched the edges of that loose little transformation that we did, or the selection that we did, and squished everything else and in this case, making the hole and the rock smaller is not a problem, squishing up the grass is not a problem--the only thing we'd be concerned with is around her and I'll show you how much time we're saving--this again is a pretty large image.0813

Now, we turn off the background and there you see, there's our new image, and look around the edges of her--look at this, it's unbelievable how well that worked.0842

Now you can see a little compression over here because we really squeezed this up, but in general it works pretty good--we could have stopped a little bit short of that, but it did a really, really nice job and we're ready to go on this thing.0853

Now I'm going to undo this and show you the traditional fashion that this would've been done in the past.0867

You make your selection...oh, we just load the selection we already had, excuse me...0873

Command click, you copy her out, you paste her in, you have a new layer, and then you move her over where you want, but then you see what you'd have to do--all this retouch around the edges here...0879

We'd have to clean all of that in, then we'd have to retouch her out of the underlying image, and all of the time that it would've taken, but you see how the Content Aware Scale worked really, really well.0893

Let me show you that with another example--here's this cactus one and the client wanted a square crop on this thing, so what we're going to do is the same thing.0907

We're going to take and do a loose crop around--and I'm going to protect these foreground cacti so they don't get squished...0916

I'm going to protect this one...and this one...and this one...see how quickly this goes--we just make a quick selection--I'm going to do the prickly pear, and this other saguaro...and there we go.0927

Go to the Select menu, save the selection as an alpha channel, there you see it down at the bottom, de-select, and now I'm going to go to the Edit menu.0945

I need to have a background--I'm going to duplicate it...0958

Go to the Edit, Content Aware Scale, there's the bounding box, I'm going to protect alpha 1, and now I'm just going to go ahead and scale it and notice as it compresses the image, it squeezes everything else but the--let's see, we're at 2395...coming down--we're going to leave it just short, right about there.0962

It's not quite square but we can bring down the top a little bit, and there you see--I'm going to go ahead and enter that--that it squished the image but it did not squish the cactus at all--left the cactus just perfect, so now we can take that image as it is and apply that--let me show you where it actually worked very well.0985

Let's go ahead and duplicate the original background again, and turn this one off, and we'll do the old transform scale method...and you notice, obviously, that didn't work very well at all.1008

We'll leave it right about there, click OK...and let it transform and you can see the differential--the cactus was not affected--that's the Content Aware Scale methodology, so we're going to go ahead and check that one off.1024

Now you notice that the Move didn't work that well--like I said, it's not completely magic.1046

Now let me show you Content Aware Extend--a really interesting feature as well, and we're going to do that one with this image right here.1050

Here's an image taken by a friend of mine of his friend's daughter...the problem we have with this image--we like the shot but her pose is not really good--she's kind of hunched down in the shoulder area and her neck looks really short, so we'd like to fix that.1061

Well we have a new tool that will do that amazingly well--that's the Content Aware Extend.1078

We go back, take the selection tool, make a rough selection around her head...come back in, and I'm going to stretch the neck so I'm going to go down below the chin just a little bit, and right over here...we'll go back to that Content Aware Move tool, and in this case the mode we're going to change to extend and watch this one--it's just amazing.1085

I'm going to go ahead and hide the crawling ants, and I'm just going to drag it up a little bit because that's all we need to extend the neck is maybe that much right there, and look at that!1112

I'm going to do again so you can see it--bring it up one more time--very high up here--watch this, we just click and drag it up...right about to there is as far as I'd want to go...release...and now we were using very strict (whoops, bring that back in) the edges.1125

Let's see what happens if we drop to strict, we're getting it to come in a little more, medium; not as good so the strict method perfectly blended there--didn't have to retouch anything, and look in the neck here.1146

I'm going to go back to the very strict...the neck area looks great, and the retouched looks great...look at this, there's before...and there's after--stretched the neck up, she looks a heck of a lot better.1161

We might have to do just a tiny bit of retouch on the neck actually right about in here, just to smooth out that one spot...there we go...1176

And the image is now corrected using the Content Aware Move tool in the extend mode, and let me show you one more time how that works--we're going to work it in another fashion.1194

Turn on the original here, go back to the original image, and let's say...we like the cactus but we'd like to have this particular branch just a little bit longer, we can do that same thing.1208

Take the tool, make a quick loose selection around it, have the Content Aware Move tool in the extend mode and we can always play with this, we'll just start at medium, and click and drag it and I want to be right about just below the rocks up there...1221

We'll hide the crawling ants...come on, there we go.1247

Now let's try strict...let it cook a little bit longer...go back to medium--I'm looking around the cactus, let's go with loose...oh there we go...let's go very strict...not as good, medium...back to loose...there we go, that looks like a pretty good job, and look at that.1256

We went from there to there and extended it, and it blended in with the background, now we have a more balanced cactus, so there you have the Content Aware Extend feature.1281

So to sum up all of the Content Aware function, you saw that the Content Aware Fill works pretty good, but you have to be careful with it.1294

Remember that the more complex the area that you're trying to fill, the more difficult it will become, but basically this is a time saver.1306

The Content Aware Move works sometimes, and it especially works well when you have extremely uniform areas where you're taking your image from and moving it to.1316

Like someone in a completely uniform field, it's easy, but somebody standing against the cityscape would be virtually impossible.1331

Content Aware Extend works really, really good--you saw how it worked well on the girl (where was that) on this image, how easily that worked beautifully well, as well as on the cactus but it had a neat--in both cases...realize, well actually the background was pretty complex but notice how beautifully it worked, that's a really good one.1340

And the Content Aware Scale is very good, as long as you have again a uniform background--the background has to be something that can be squished, otherwise it's going to look a little weird.1365

So there you have all of the Content Aware functions; Fill, Move, Extend and Scale in Photoshop CS6.1380