Skill Level Intermediate
- Hey this is Chris Orwig, and welcome to another episode of Photo Tools Weekly. In this week's episode we are going to dig deep into working with Photoshop. Here we'll take a look at a photograph where we want to improve this image, and we're going to improve it by using content-aware cropping, which means extending the canvas. We'll also talk about how we can remove unwanted things in the frame, and we'll reposition the athlete so that he is in a higher spot or a different spot in the image as well.
Now to do all of these things we'll be using Photoshop because really there isn't another tool in the world which would allow us to do something like this. So without further delay, let's dig deep into a Photoshop workflow which involves improving a photograph of this guy right here. All right, well here goes. In this first part of our project here, we'll take a look at how we can take advantage of content-aware cropping inside of Photoshop. We'll also do some clean up work. We'll remove a subject over here on this side of the frame, and clean up some other details as well.
All right well let's begin by selecting the Crop Tool. One of the advantages of working with the Crop Tool is that we have an option up top called Content-Aware. Now what is that, and how does it work? Well let me show you. Let's say that we decide that we want to add more space above the athlete here. Well if we click and drag this up, with Content-Aware turned off, you can see we have this blank space right here. If I simply press Enter or Return to apply the crop, what we'll have is just a blank area in the frame. Not very good. But, on the other hand, let me zoom out so you can see this a little bit better.
If we use Content-Aware and we crop the image in the same exact way, what Photoshop will do is it will figure out how to fill in this blank area with content. In this case what it will do is it will take the surrounding sky and it will add or create, or build more sky. Now this works with areas of photographs like this, where we don't have a lot of content, or in other situations like down below in the base of the image. One of the things that I notice is that the horizon line isn't level. So I'll use the Crop Tool with Content-Aware turned on, then just click and drag, and rotate looking at those overlay guides until I see that it looks like that horizon line is close to level.
Now from here we can actually extend our crop outside of the edge of the frame there. Outside of the edge where there aren't any pixels at all currently. So we can see it's completely blank, it's white there. Down below, also over here and a couple other spots. Because to rotate it just requires that that happens. Well now what we can then do is press Enter or Return to apply the crop. Photoshop will do some of its magic and here it will extend the canvas.
It did a pretty nice job there. Over here, filled in the skateboard ramp. It added another water bottle, and then kind of has this black funky thing over here, we can fix that. Sky looks good up top. Okay well once we've done that you may get a little carried away and think, you know what? I'm going to do this in really big ways, and then press Enter or Return. And what you'll discover is that if you do too much too fast you can have a problem like this surface. Let me zoom way in on it, where we have this repeating pattern of this little tree one after another.
Not very good. So rather than going too big, we'll undo that, and we'll do a touch of clean up work. I'll call this layer r1. Grab a tool like the Clone Stamp tool. No hardness, nice small brush, sample all layers so all the retouching will be right here. And what I can do is I can then go over here and Option or Alt + Click to set a source area, and just retouch away anything where I notice it's sort of a pattern, but it just doesn't look very good.
So I'm Option or Alt + Clicking down here. I'm trying to cover up a couple of these areas that I think could use a little bit of help. We can do this wherever we see a problem. For that matter, I might just get rid of that little tree right there altogether. Now what about over here? If we see any little issues we could get rid of those too, so Option or Alt + Click. I'll just go ahead, I'll maybe actually, I want to work on the guy right here. I'll Option or Alt + Click and I'll start to click to paint him away. Now as I paint I want to be careful that I don't paint too far because you can see how I'll repeat what was there, so you just want to paint a little bit away, little bit, and kind of chip away at it.
Option, Alt + Click, make sure you're sampling sky from the same area, so you have the same brightness value so it's looking really nice. Now when we get down to an area like this, where we have, let's zoom in on it, where we have these straight lines, right? I have this straight line and then the straight line of the skateboard ramp. Well this is where we can use Clone Stamp still but we just have to be a little bit careful. So what I mean by that is we Option or Alt + Click to select our source area. There it is, bring it over, make sure it lines up, and then click.
You can see here I'm kind of clicking lots of times. You probably hear my mouse, just click away, click away, there it is, and I'm going to go ahead and move all the way up here, and bring up, and kind of create a new, new line right there. We can do the same thing with the skateboard ramp. I just need a smaller brush, so tap the left bracket key to make it smaller, or go up here, decrease your brush size, right? Option or Alt + Click on the top of the ramp there. Bring that over, make sure it's just lined up. As long as you have good alignment and as long as you're just clicking little bit at a time, what we can do is we can get rid of all of that stuff and then Option or Alt + Click to set our source area, and we can go from either side as needed.
And it's a good idea to Option or Alt + Click from multiple spots, just again so we can kind of create a new pattern. Oops, made a mistake there, let me undo that by pressing Command + Z. Just so that we can make sure that we have a look in this area which isn't too, what do we say? Too computerized or too digital, it looks sort of random. So I Option or Alt + Click here and I paint a little bit. Option or Alt + Click here, paint a little bit. So I'm doing that lots of different ways to try to hide my tracks a little bit with this type of work.
Another way you can do that too is sometimes if you lower the opacity on the tool that can help you to kind of hide things as well. All right well once we've done that and we feel like it's decent, which I think it's okay, it's not amazing. We could zoom in and make it a little bit better. What we'll want to do if we want to do more content-aware is we actually have to merge the layers together, because if I do content-aware now, it will work with this stuff, not everything else. Which really isn't very good. So, when it comes to merging, we can either merge up or we can merge down.
If we want to merge down, we go to our Layer, and we just choose Merge Down right there, and it will then take those layers down, and so they're now all in the background. If we want to merge to the top, you have to learn kind of a complicated shortcut. It's Shift + Option + Command + E on a Mac, or Shift + Alt + Control + E on Windows. So either way you can either merge down or up.
I'll merge up just so that we can keep our layers, and I'm going to call this one Cleaned Up, and so I can click through them at the end as well. All right next up we'll grab our Crop Tool and now with the Crop Tool I want to extend this out here a little bit more, and extend this one out here a little bit more. Not going too crazy or too far, just adding a little bit on each side of the photograph. I want to evaluate how it's done, make sure it looks good. Here I think it actually looks surprisingly great.
Minus, I want to get rid of this shadow here on the skateboard ramp. That's not doing anything for me. So I'll grab my Clone Stamp tool and I'm going to do it right on this layer because I'm pretty confident that what I need to do, just clean up the top there a little bit, and then go over here, bring some of that edge over, and bring a little bit more of the skateboard ramp with me, and so I'm just going to go ahead and do that. Again, Option or Alt + Click, set your sample area, and then just get rid of that shadow, because really it was just taking away from the fun of this moment and this guy jumping high up in the sky.
All right well we've kind of accomplished step one, which was to level the horizon, and use content-aware cropping as well as a little bit of retouching to clean up some details. Step number two is going to be to reposition and move the subject, our athlete here who is flying in the sky on his bike, and let's take a look at how we can do that in part two in the next movie.