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With this small project, one of the things that I am trying to do here is to take this occasion to explore how we can use Content-Aware Fill in combination with selections in order to modify the position of an athlete. Like with this image let's say that we want to make it look like he's jumping even higher. How could we do that? Well on the cleanup layer, what we want to do is press the W key to select the Quick Select tool and first we want to build up a decent selection of the subject. In this case of this little guy Dylan here jumping off of this piece of driftwood down in Costa Rica, and I am just going to go ahead and click and drag across the image, and as I am doing that I should point out that this beach that we are out was absolutely amazing.
It was so much fun to be there, really isolated beach, remote beach, way out in the middle of nowhere, and it was my daughter Sophia's fourth birthday and so we brought a pinata down to the beach and rigged it up on some other pieces of driftwood, and we had a pinata at the beach. It was a ton of fun and went swimming and surfing and all of that. All right. Well here, all I am going to do is just click and drag around the image, trying to get a decent selection, and it's good. It's not perfect, but we have a pretty good start in regards to what we have here.
What I want to do just for safety's sake, and also for demo purposes, is I want to create a mask, but I want to do so on a new layer. So I am going to duplicate cleanup. I will go ahead and click and drag that to the New Layer icon, and then I will click on my Add Layer Mask icon. This, in turn, will create a layer mask so that if I turn off the visibility of the other layers, we can see that I have a pretty decent selection of Dylan here on his own layer. Now the next thing that I need to do though is I need to figure out, well okay I have him on his own layer. How then can I remove him from the context and perhaps reposition him to new spot? Well, what we could do is go ahead and turn on the visibility of our other layers and turn off the visibility of this top layer and let's name this top layer, just so we don't get confused, jump.
Next, I am going to go ahead and hold down the Command key on a Mac, Ctrl key on Windows, and click on the layer mask. This just activates it as a selection, and it's a decent selection, not perfect but pretty good. Then I will target or click on the cleanup layer and here what you want to do in order to effectively do this is go down to your Select pulldown menu, go to Modify, and then choose Expand. Whenever you are working with Content- Aware fill, it's always a good idea to have a selection which is broader or bigger than the area that you want to work on.
So here we will click on Expand and we will expand this a certain number of pixels. Let's try out this setting of five, which I had used previously on another image we will see how that works. Well it looks like that isn't quite big enough. So I am going to go back to Select. I will choose Modify and then Expand again and this time I will expand it five more pixels and again just see how that's going to look, and it should look like we kind of have these cut out lines around the subject here, and I think that's pretty good, perhaps we can expand this even further, and I am going to do that just to be safe for another five pixels.
Now as you get more familiar with this process, you may get the number right from the get-go, but it's worth illustrating that you can always change that or continually grow that selection as needed. Now the next thing that I want to do here on this cleanup layer is I want to get rid of the subject completely. In order to do that, we pressed Shift+F5. That opens up the Fill dialog. What you want to use here from the Contents pulldown menu is Content-Aware and what this tells Photoshop to do is to say, hey look at the surrounding area and try to map that over this selected area.
Here we will click OK, we will cross our fingers, and Photoshop will do its magic and what it has done here is pretty successfully removed the subject from this area of the frame. Next, we need to deselect. Press Command+D or Ctrl+D to do so. Now again for the most part this is looking good. There are few little strange areas that I notice in particular the ocean here. Now you can continually fix this up. So in this case I will go ahead and select this little blip in the ocean there and then press Shift+F5. That will Content-Aware Fill that area, and you can see it created a little bit of a better line there, a little bit less noticeable.
I am going to do the same thing over this wave area here pressing Shift+F5, and I am just looking to try to modify these little areas so that it's not quite so noticeable where the subject was in case I need that extra flexibility. One of the things I am noticing over here too is that it's repeating this straight line right there. So that's a little bit of a problem. So I am going to go ahead and select that and then press Shift+F5 and a lot of times when you are using Content-Aware Fill, you may need to go back and make these small little adjustments just to sweeten it up so you have it perfect.
Now let's say, at this point, you know what? We cannot even tell that there was someone there. We have done a pretty good job. Now if it's not perfect, another thing you can do of course is select some of your other tools, say like the Healing Brush. Go in and Option+Click or Alt+Click to set your source area,then cleanup the little area that it patched in just to make sure there aren't any repeating patterns and go back and forth until you have a really good and clean area. Also, we may want to do that a little bit up here in the clouds just to hide our tracks and to blend over the texture and tone of this area and make sure this is looking really good.
Now again, you don't always have to do that. But I did want to point it out because certain images, it will be essential that you go to that next step, use a few of the other tools just to make it absolutely perfect. Well now that we have removed the subject completely from the frame, now we have flexibility to modify his position. So here when we turn on the visibility of this jump layer we can then target that layer, select the Move tool by pressing the V key or by clicking on it in the Tools panel and here we can go ahead and click and drag the subject area or this person up a little bit higher.
We can have some fun with this, you know, and we could really play with where we want to position him in regards to the overall frame. Now in this case it's just a bit of fun, making him look like he is a little bit higher. Here is the before and then the after. Yet in other situations, it can be really critical because it can be helpful just to have an athlete subtly in a different spot, maybe a little bit more to the right or little bit more to left or a have a different position or focus in regards to the overall image. You can use this technique in some pretty amazing ways.
In other situations it can be just a ton of fun in order to do this and especially with Dylan, we could have him jumping super high or doing something kind of crazy. You can imagine that that's a ton of fun, whether it's a photograph of your kid going off of a little jump on her bike or something else. Yet most importantly, I hope that through this small project you have learned a little bit more effectively how you can work with Content-Aware Fill and how you can combine that with creating good selections in order to be able to modify your images and make some important movements in those situations where you are photographing athletes and where those type of movements or changes are really essential.
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