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Photoshop CS6 now includes a new content aware move tool that allows us to move subjects within an image or to stretch them out a little bit to extend them to larger than their original size for example. Let's take a look at this new tool and how you can use it when cleaning up your images. The Content Aware Move tool is found underneath the Spot Healing Brush tool. So I'll first click and hold my mouse on the Spot Healing Brush tool button on the toolbox, and then choose Content Aware Move tool from the Fly-out menu. I'll go ahead and create a new layer to apply my changes too.
So I'll click the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. I'll then double-click the name for the layer and type a new name. I'll just call this Cleanup, and press Enter or Return on the keyboard. I can then create a selection of the object within the image that I want to move. So if I want to move this boat upward, for example, I can create a selection around the boat including its reflection of course so that we can take this whole construct, the boat and its reflection, and we'll move it upward. On the Options bar, I can choose whether I want to move or extend the subject.
In this case, I just want to move the subject. I'll show you the extend option in just a moment. And then we can adjust the adaptation. Very loose versus very strict. In this case, I want to use the very strict option. I don't want to change the shape of the boat. At all, I want to move it exactly as it is. If I use any of the looser options then Photoshop could adjust the shape or overall dimensions of the boat and in fact, change it all together. It might lose parts of the boat, for example. And in this case that's not something I want.
Sometimes that's okay but in this case I want the boat itself to move in a strict fashion. Exactly as it is. So I'll choose the Very Strict option. I also need to turn on the sample all layers check box. And this is what enables me to work on a separate cleanup layer. So now, once I move the boat upward. PhotoShop will perform all of that clean up work, on my clean up layer. Instead of altering the pixels on my background image layer. That preserves the original pixel values. And also gives me just a little bit more flexibility in my workflow. At this point I'm ready to move the boat upward.
So I'll go ahead and point my mouse inside the selection and then simply click and drag upward. And you'll notice that I can see those pixels moving upward. Let's assume this a good position for the boat. You can see the original boat reflection showing below the selection here. But all of that is going to be cleaned up automatically in just a moment. I'll release the mouse and Photo Shop will process that work. It will actually analyze and process all of those pixels. It will clean up the boat from underneath you might say and then reposition the boat elsewhere in the image. I'll go ahead and de-select the selection and you can see that by enlarge we have a good result.
I'll turn off the Clean Up layer, and turn it back on. And you can see that, that boat has indeed been moved. However I do have some artifacting and that's largely because of the Very Strict option. I could have reduced the adaptation strictness and that would have provided a little bit better blending but, I would also risk damaging the boat a little bit. I'll go ahead and undo by pressing Ctrl Z on Windows or Cmd Z on Macintosh and then Ctrl, Alt, Z on Windows or Cmd, Option, Z on Macintosh. To undo one more step and I'll set the adaptation to very loose.
I'll then drag the boat upward one more time and release the mouse and then we can take a look at how Photoshop processes this adjustment with a different adaptation setting. I'll go ahead and deselect that selection and you can see that the boat has been shrunk just a little bit. I'll turn the Cleanup Layer off and then on again. And you can see just a little bit of a shift especially if the bow of the boat has been compressed inward just a little bit. Photoshop decided that that would improve the overall blending, so, a little bit problematic.
So again in this case I would have opted for the Very Strict option. But I still have not very good blending along the edges. Fortunately that's very easy to fix. I can simply switch to the Spot Healing Brush tool. Use the Content Aware option with sample all layers turned on. And then I could just adjust my brush size with the left and right square Bracket keys. And paint along portions of that edge in order to blend them in with the surrounding image. So by painting around the image in each of these areas Photoshop will then blend the result a little bit better for me.
And I can continue doing that painting in various directions, painting with a different size brush, etcetera, to help improve the overall appearance. Let's also take a look at the Extend option. Let's assume that I wanted to enlarge the size of this boat for some reason. I'll go ahead and turn off my clean up layer, and I'll make a new layer, this one I'll call Extend. So now the boat is in it's original position, but I'm going to extend it, to make it a little bit taller. I'll go back to my Content Aware Move tool, and this time I'll only select the top portion of the boat, and with that selection created I'll set the mode now to Extend. Now I'm going to use the medium option, the balance between strict, and loose, and again with the sample all layers check box turned on. Now, I'll extend my subject.
By simply clicking and dragging my selection upward. I'll position it right about there, for example. And release the mouse. And Photo Shop once again, will process all of the information. To apply my clean up. I'll deselect the section by pressing Ctrl + D on Windows or Cmd + D on Macintosh. And I'll toggle the visibility of that layer off and on. You can see, in this case, not the best result. But you still get a sense of how the Extend option works. I'm able to adjust the shape of objects within a photo. Quite frankly, I tend not to apply those sorts of adjustments.
But the ability to move a subject within the frame, I think, is a very powerful new ability in Photoshop CS6.
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