Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video The Content-Aware Move tool, part of Photoshop: Image Cleanup (2013).
In some cases, you may find that you don't really want to remove a subject or an object from an image, but rather move it around a little bit. In this case, I might like to move this eagle a little further up into the top right corner of the image, essentially so that it has a bit more room to move as it were. And to do that, would involve, essentially copying that eagle into a different position, and then removing the original eagle. Well we can actually perform both of those steps with a single process using the content-aware move tool. Let's take a look at how it's done.
I'm going to start off by creating a new empty image layer that will serve as the destination for the pixels that are going to be created as part of this process. So I'll click on the blank sheet of paper icon, the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. And then, just so that I stay organized on my Layers panel, I'll rename that layer to something more meaningful. I'll just double-click on that layer and then we'll call this Move Eagle. And I'll press Enter or Return on the keyboard. Next, I'm going to select the content to where move tool, and that tool is found underneath the spot healing brush tool on the toolbox.
And so, on the Toolbox, I'll click and hold my mouse on the spot healing brush tool, and then from the file menu that appears, I'll choose Content-Aware Move tool. The Content-Aware Move tool essentially behaves as a selection tool. In other words, I need to select the object that I want to move, and then, move it. So, I'll start off, essentially, with the Lasso tool, simply clicking and dragging within the image to define the area that I would like to move. In this case, just the eagle of course, and so I'll trace around the eagle, leaving a bit of a buffer around the eagle itself. Then I can take a look at the options bar and specify the various settings that I want to use, but first notice that we have options for creating a new selection, so if I want to start over and make a new selection. Or, I can add to an existing selection, subtract from an existing selection, or create an intersection with an existing selection.
But in this case,I think my selection is in pretty good shape, so I don't need to modify it. Next, we'll take a look at the Mode option. The default here is Move. We can also Extend, so if I had an object, let's say a building that I wanted to make a little bit taller, I could use the Extend option, select just the top of the building and then drag that upward for example... But in this case, I want to completely move the subject within the frame, and so, I'll leave the option set to move. Next, I can take a look at the Adaptation option and that allows me to determine how much change is allowed between the source and destination areas.
Well, in this case, I want things to be kept pretty much exactly as they are. I don't want there to be any changes, and so, I'm going to set the option to very strict. I can arrange all the way from Very Strict to Very Loose. If I'm removing the cloud around in the sky for example, then the Very Loose option would probably be perfectly fine. It would result in some random variation and the result. But that's okay, but in this case of course, I want things to remain essentially as they are. I just want the object moved within the frame, and so, I'll use the Very Strict option.
And I also need to make sure that the Sample All Layers checkbox is turned on, and that's because I want my pixels placed on an empty layer without altering the background image layer, but I do want that background image layer to be used to calculate the source pixels. In essence, I'll be copying pixels from the Background Image Layer onto my Move Eagle layer. So, with those options established, I'm ready to apply the change. I'll go ahead and point the mouse inside my selection. And then, I will click and drag in order to move the eagle.
Now, initially, you'll see a duplicate eagle. So I can adjust the position of that duplicate, essentially dragging my selection around within the image. But at the moment, I still have the original eagle as well. But once I release the mouse, the eagle will be placed in the position where I drop this selection and then the original eagle, the position of my original selection will be removed. That area will be cleaned up. So essentially two things are happening at once. I'm copying the eagle to another location and also removing the eagle in the original location and the best part is of course that Photoshop is doing all the real work for me.
I'll go ahead and release the mouse and we'll let Photoshop Process the image and you can see I now have an eagle moved into a completely different area of the image. I'll press Ctrl+D on Windows or Cmd+D on Macintosh in order to deselect that selection, and then I'll turn off the visibility for the background image layer so that we can see exactly what happened. And clearly, the area where the eagle was has been replaced by new sky pixels, and a copy of that area, a copy of the eagle was placed in another area of the image. Of course, if we turn on the Background Image Layer once again, you might notice that we have a little bit of a halo type of effect around the eagle. And what that means is that my adaptation was actually a little bit too strict. In other words, Photoshop was trying not to alter the destination area too much but that's resulted in some obvious indications of change within the image. I could, in theory, work to clean those areas up, perhaps with a Spot Healing Brush tool, for example, but instead, I think I'll go back a few steps, and then change that Adaptation setting.
I'll go ahead and choose Edit > Step Backward, and that undoes the deselection of my selection. I'll step backward one more time, and that puts the eagle back in its original position. So now, I can change my Adaptation option. I think I'll try Medium in this case. And then, click and drag in order to move that eagle once again with slightly different settings. And now, when I release the mouse, the image will be processed once again and I'll deselect, and now, we have a much improved transition between the sky that had been around the eagle And the new sky.
And of course I could continue working in this way to fine tune the overall result trying to make sure that my settings are just right to produce the most realistic result possible, even though I'm certainly playing around with reality a little bit in this particular case. But as you can see, that Content-Aware Move tool Can be very helpful for situations where you essentially want to fine-tune the overall composition of your image.
- Cleanup concepts
- Essential cleanup tools
- Basic cleanup techniques
- Removing strong color casts
- Adjusting brush shape
- Extending the frame
- Using multiple exposures
- Replacing a bad sky