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Sometimes when you initially take a photograph, you're not sure what the intent of the photograph will be down the road. Maybe you thought it was going to work for one project but you ended up using it for another. And quite often I find that the aspect ratio of the original image just isn't going to work, with the aspect ratio that the client requires. Let's take for example this image here, and I want to crop this down to a four by five aspect ratio. So I'll use my Crop tool, I'll just tap the C key and I'll choose four by five for the aspect ratio. Now that is a vertical aspect ratio, I actually want horizontal, so let's tap the X key.
Well, you can see that if I crop this down to a four by five, we're not going to have any space around the buildings on the left or the right hand side. That's just too tight of a crop. So what I'm going to do is, I'm going to kind of make a note of where this crop would need to be. And I'll do that by viewing my rulers, and then once I view my rulers, I can drag out some guides. So if I position my cursor inside the ruler area, and then drag the first guide out here, I'll return back, click in the ruler area, and drag out my second guide to the end of the crop.
Now, I don't actually want to crop right now, so I will tap the Escape key, or we can click on the Cancel Crop icon. And then I'm going to scoot over to the Move tool for a moment so that we don't have that crop marquee. So now I know where I need to crop this image. But I don't really want to free transform it and just squish it. In fact, let's take a look at what that would look like. Unfortunately, I'm on a background layer so if I did choose Edit you'll notice that I can't free transform, so let's convert that background into a layer.
I'm going to hold down the Option or the Alt key and just double-click on the word background. That converts it into a layer. And now I can choose Edit and then Free Transform. But when I start transforming this, if I want to bring in both of these edges, you can see that all of the sudden, I'm really squishing it and the buildings are looking out of proportion. So let's go ahead and tap the Escape key or the Cancel icon right here in order to cancel out of that. What I'm going to use instead is Photoshop's ability to analyze the content of the image and then scale based on that content.
So I'll choose Edit and then Content-Aware Scale and now when I bring in the left side and I bring in the right side, you'll notice that I'm not getting nearly the distortion that I was seeing before. And that's because Photoshop is basically looking at the image and it's analyzing the content, and it's trying to remove information that's not as important. So it kind of goes down through the image as we're trying to make it narrower and it's throwing away information that is of a lower frequency.
So by lower frequency it doesn't have as much change, right? So all of this area right here is going to be a much higher frequency than this grass area right here. And if we want to compare this to what this would like if I had just used Free Transform, I can use the amount slider here, so this is using the content aware scaling. If I take off the amount, this is what this would look like with free transform. So again, here's the content aware. You can see how the buildings keep their proportions.
Without that, that is the free transform. And if we wanted to take this to a little bit more of an extreme, I'll just go ahead and bring this over quite a ways, and you can actually watch how Photoshop tries to remove all of the green grass areas between the buildings, basically before it starts squishing the buildings. So again, let's take a look here. This is the content aware scaling. If I move the amount all the way over, you can see how distorted the image gets when you just use Free Transform versus using the Content Aware scaling.
I'll go ahead and bring that back to the four by five aspect ratio. And then we'll tap the checkmark in order to apply that, then I could go ahead and tap the C key to get my Crop tool and we'll just reposition the image within that crop and then tap the checkmark to apply it. So the next time you need to change an image in order to make it fit inside a specific aspect ratio, try using the Content Aware Scaling option in Photoshop instead of Free Transform.
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