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The Content-Aware technology included in Photoshop is really a tremendous help when it comes to image cleanup. But many photographers seem to only be aware that the Content-Aware option is available for the Spot Healing Brush tool, but it is actually also available as a Fill command. In many cases, you will find that makes it a little bit easier to work with your image cleanup tasks. In other words, using a selection as a basis of an image cleanup rather than painting in particular areas of the photo.
The only catch with Content-Aware Fill feature is that you're not able to wok on a separate empty image layer. In theory, you could work directly on the Background Image Layer replacing problematic pixels with new pixels. But that can be problematic if you ever want to go back and refine your work a little bit later. So instead, in the case of working with the Content-Aware Fill feature, I recommend creating a copy of your Background Image Layer. So, you can drag the thumbnail for the Background Image Layer down to the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then, when you release the mouse, that will create a background copy. So now, I have a copy of my underlying image that I can use for my image cleanup work.
I'll then create a selection in the image. Here, I'd just like to get rid of this branch at the top left. It's just a bit of a distraction. I like the branches with the blossoms obviously, set against the clouds and the sky. But this branch, out of focus and just a tiny little bit of it, it's not so nice. And in fact, I notice too, that we have just a tiny little bit of a blossom or part of a branch showing up here as well. So perhaps I'd like to include that in my image clean up also. I'll go ahead and choose the Lasso tool and then I'll click and draw a Lasso around the branch here.
And then, I'll choose the Add to Selection option, and simply click and drag around the other blemish here. So now, I've identified both areas that I want to clean up with the selection. I can then chose Edit > Fill from the menu. I could also press Shift+F5 by the way, to bring up the Fill dialog. I can then choose Content-Aware from the Hues pop-up and click OK. Photoshop will then process those selected areas so that those areas are cleaned up automatically, looking at other areas of the photo in order to identify how to best fill those areas, so that the blemishes are removed and the rest of the image just blends in seamlessly.
I'll choose Select > Deselect from the menu in order to remove the selection. And you can see that cleanup was done quite seamlessly indeed. I'll go ahead and turn off the visibility of that Background Copy layer, and then turn it back on. And you'll see that the cleanup, with Content-Aware Fill, has worked remarkably well. I'll go ahead and rename this image Cleanup layer, I'll just call it Cleanup, so that I don't forget why this additional layer is there in the future. I can of course then Save this image to keep all of these layers intact and continue working to fine-tune the overall appearance of the photo.
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