Using the Content-Aware Fill Tool in Photoshop

show more Content-Aware Fill provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CC 2013 One-on-One: Fundamentals show less
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Content-Aware Fill

Over the course of this chapter, we're going to take this photograph of this attractive young person, as captured by photographer Matthew Dallow. And we'll heal away her blemishes. We'll paint away some of the stray hairs across her face. We'll recolor the makeup under her eyes so it's a better match for her natural skin tones. We'll get rid of some of the shine across her forehead, and over here on her left hand cheek. We'll also whiten her teeth. And then finally, we'll add some saturation to her eyes. And we'll ultimately come up with this final retouched image.

Now notice that she's the same person she ever was. I haven't healed away any of the creases or smile wrinkles, or any of the details that make us interesting to look at. This is not Botox, and that's very important. Rather, it's about achieving a smoother more evenly rendered portrait. And that really is the key to successful retouching. I'm going to switch back to my original photograph. In this movie, I'll show you how to work with one of Photoshop's best automated retouching tools which is Content Aware Fill.

Before I set about working on this image, because virtually all of Photoshop's retouching tools are static, meaning that they permanently modify the pixels, I'm going to go ahead and create a copy of this image so I can come back to the original later on if I need it. So I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Opt+J on a Mac to jump the background. And I'll go ahead and call it Retouch, and then click OK. Now I'll start off by demonstrating how Content Aware Fill works, and then I'll show you a practical application. Using my rectangular marquee tool, I'm going to select a rough area in the middle of the face.

So, I'm selecting around her nose, as you can see. I want the selection outline to match the angle of her face. So, I'm going to rotate it, independently of the image by going up to Select > Transform Selection. Now notice if you drag one of the handles, you can scale the selection after the fact. And if you drag outside the selection outline, then you can rotate it. And I'm going to rotate the selection to about 12 degrees works out nicely. And I can see 12 degrees in that heads up display right next to my cursor.

And then I'll release my mouse button and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to complete the rotation. And I'm also going to nudge this selection to the right a little bit by pressing the right arrow key a few times. Now let's heal away the nose. Now I know this is not a practical retouching technique. However, it does demonstrate how Content Aware Fill works. To access the function, you go up to Edit > Fill. And that brings up the Fill dialog box. You can also access this dialog box by pressing Shift+Backspace on the PC or Shift+Delete on the Mac.

Go ahead and set Used Content Aware, and then make sure the blending options are set to their defaults, by which I mean a mode of normal and opacity of 100%. Preserved Transparency should be turned off. Then go ahead and click OK in order to fill in that selection outline. What Photoshop is doing, is it's looking outside the selection for details that should be cloned into the selection. And it's basing its decisions, on the luminous levels and details that it finds along the perimeter of the selection outline.

And everything that it puts into the selection is something that was formerly outside the selection. So all those details associated with the nose are completely and entirely replaced. If I press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H on a Mac to hide the selection outline, you can see then in this region right here, where we're seeing the shading next to the nose. Right at that location Photoshop sees that there are darker details and repeats darker details inside the selection. You'll see a variety of details, by the way, from all over the image, and you may see some details repeat here and there as well.

So there's a lot of random detail juggling going on. Now I'm going to press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to bring back the nose. Because after all, that's a very positive detail inside this photograph. Then I'm going to zoom in on what is perhaps the biggest blemish, which is this item over here on the cheek, just to the right of the nose. Let's start by selecting it using the lasso tool. Now bear in mind, the perimeter of the selection outline makes a big difference in the terms of how Content Aware Fill behaves, so we want to select well outside the blemish in order to tell Photoshop that this unblemished region of the skin is the area that we want to match.

Then, I'll press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H on the Mac to hide the selection outline. And I'll press Shift+Backspace or Shift+Delete on the Mac to bring up the Fill dialogue box. Everything's set the way it should be because Photoshop remembers the last application of this command. So in others words Use is already set to Content Aware, so all I have to do is click on the OK button and Photoshop goes ahead and replaces that detail. It may or may not do exactly the job that you're looking for. One way to alter the results is to press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac.

Press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H to bring back the selection outline, then press the Shift key, for example, and drag with the lasso tool to include just a little more detail like that. And then try again. Press Shift+Backspace or Shift+Delete on the Mac, click OK and evaluate the Results. And at this point, things are looking okay, but not perfect. And they never are. Each and every one of the retouching tools is going to deliver a different result, not always a good result, but that's okay, as long as you're moving in the right direction.

Because for example, let's say I'm not very happy with this region right there, that sort of scrappy detail. I'll just go ahead and reselect this area like so, and then press Shift+Backspace, or Shift+Delete on the Mac, in order to bring up the Fill dialogue box. Click OK, and that's starting to look better. So, just to give you sense of what we've been able to achieve so far, I'm going to zoom out from the image, and then go ahead and pan down. This is the original version of that blemished detail, and this is healed version so far.

Not perfect, but a lot better thanks to the automation of Photoshop's Content Aware Fill.

Content-Aware Fill
Video duration: 6m 11s 7h 45m Beginner Updated Sep 17, 2014


Content-Aware Fill provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Deke McClelland as part of the Photoshop CC 2013 One-on-One: Fundamentals

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