Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Fixing edges with Content-Aware Crop, part of Photo Tools Weekly.
- Hey it's great to see you again. Thanks for tuning into another episode of Photo Tools Weekly. In this week's episode, we'll be looking at how we can work in Photoshop, and how can you use a feature which is often overlooked. And it's too bad cause this is a feature which can really help you out. It's called content aware cropping. It allows you to fill in the gaps, which can be really helpful sometimes when you're cropping your photographs. So to show you how this feature works, we'll be working with two different images and without further delay lets jump right in and take a look at how we can use this feature, here goes.
To show you how content aware cropping actually works, here we'll be using two different photographs. These are some pictures of some family friends. We'll start off with the image down on the left and here I'll press f to go to full screen, and what we see in this image is that the horizon isn't straight right. So often what we'll do is we'll select the crop tool and next we'll go up and make sure delete cropped pixels is unchecked and then we can use our straighten tool. When we click and drag over the horizon line or something that we think should be straight and then let go, what it does is it automatically recomposes and rotates the image so that that line is straight.
Now the downside of this is that the cropped area is confined to the pixel content. In other words it's not going to extend it out past this and so my composition is a little bit tight. Yet lets say that rather than this kind of composition, I want to include some of the other areas like we have here, but there isn't anything there. How can we fill in those gaps? Well let me show you. Here I'll tap escape a few times and before we begin what I want to do is copy the background layer and I'm doing this just so that we have something that we can look at to compare and contrast the results of using content aware crop.
Let me type this out, content aware crop. There it is. Next, when working with content aware crop we select crop tool as before. Make sure delete cropped pixels is unchecked, but then turn on content aware. Next I'll just click onto the image that overlays the crop overlay graphic. Now I want to straighten the image so I'll use the straighten tool and click and drag over a vertical or horizontal line that I think should be straight, in this case the horizon. I'll let go and you'll notice something kind of interesting.
If I zoom in on the image, what you'll notice here is that it's now the original crop aspect ratio, yet it's allowing me to see these transparent areas where there isn't anything. And the reason is, is because what Photoshop is going to do is fill in that area. Now I can just go with what it's done for me here, I could say hey you know I want to change this a little bit. Maybe I want to bring this in or maybe I want to change this over here, who knows. Whatever it is after we have decided where we want that crop to be, the next step is to apply the crop.
One way to do that is to click on the check mark up top. Now what will happen when we apply what's called content aware crop, is that it's going to obviously crop and rotate the image but Photoshop's going to do some behind the scenes magic. It's going to use some of the content aware technology to fill in some of the gaps. What gaps? Well if we turn off the visibility of the top layer, we can see that it's filling in all of these gaps right here right? It filled in this down below, you can see how it filled that in, did a pretty good job.
Over here in the sky it did a phenomenal job. So when you have areas which have patterns or like sky, it does a really good job. Over here by the palm trees, not so good it kind of chopped off a palm tree there. No big deal we can fix that up using some of our retouching tools. So I'll go ahead and name this retouching or clean up. I'll press the s key to select the clone stamp tool and then press press option on mac alt on windows and all that I'm going to do here is I want to sample all layers.
This allows me to do retouching on these up to my topmost layer and that's just a retouching technique that a lot of people use. All that means is all the retouching I'm doing is sitting here on this layer by itself. And the reason why I want to do a little bit of this is I notice there's a guy I want to remove, little distracting element. I want to go down to the areas where it's invented content like over here it didn't quite get this just right here so I'm going to make my brush a little bit bigger and just clean that up a little bit.
Same thing over here, looks like that could use a little bit of help, but really I think that's it. And having that jumpstart in the workflow is phenomenal, because essentially what it allowed me to do was to crop the image and while I cropped it use content aware fill at the same time to fill in these gaps. They weren't perfect that's OK it won't always be perfect. Then I went in and did a little bit more retouching to finish off the image.
Alright well that's example number one. Do you want to see another one? Let's look at the next image. This is another photograph, here it's the whole family. And with this one let's copy the background layer, again this is for demo purposes, you don't need to copy the background layer in your own work flow. I'm doing this so that we have something to compare the results with. With this image I want to crop the image and what I want to do is create a composition where I'm adding some space on the edges. And if ever you know that you're going to do that and there may be some problem areas, you can do your retouching first.
Let me show what I mean. I'm just going to grab the crop tool for a moment and I won't apply this crop but let's say that what I really want to do is change this so that I have a composition which is I dunno a little bit more like this. Well if I apply that crop, I know that Photoshop is going to have a hard time with these palm trees up here. I also know it's going to have a hard time with this shadow over here. So because I know that, before I crop I'll exit out of this.
I'm going to use some retouching tools to help Photoshop out. Here I'll use my spot healing brush and I'm just going to heal away this part of the shadow which was a little bit funky right there. I'm also going to use the spot healing brush to get rid of these palm trees up here because I know Photoshop won't really know how to deal with two palm trees on an edge and I'll leave it perhaps like that. So again if ever you know you're going to do some content aware crop, work on your edges, if you see anything that's little bit I dunno just maybe strange or you notice some weird shadows or something over in those areas, do some clean up work because that will in a sense help Photoshop out as it seeks to work on those areas.
So really what I've don't so far if we zoom in on this, is a little bit of clean up work, got rid of the palm trees up there, did a little bit of clean up work down here in the sand and I'm just using spot healing brush and then I also did a little bit on the shadow over here. Alright great. Alright well now that I've cleaned up some edges, I'll grab my crop tool. Next step, delete cropped pixels unchecked. You want to save all the original pixels in case you make a mistake. Because with content aware chances are you probably will.
Especially if you're new to it. Next we'll go ahead and just do a freeform crop and I'm just going to click and drag and say hey you know what I want to change whatever this is. Sometimes it's going to be freeform other times maybe specific because the client has a specific need on how they want the image to appear or maybe you need a specific frame size, who knows. So here I'm just looking to change this. I'm just doing this to create a different mood in the image. And after I get it in the right spot I will press enter or return to apply that.
Cross my fingers and hold my breath and hope that Photoshop does some magic for me. Yeah and let's take a look at what happened. Here was the original file. Then this is the file where I did a little bit of retouching. Can you see how that shadow now works a little bit better because it's just those two long lines, that great. The sand works great over here. The trees almost work perfectly, there's just a small gap right there. So I can fix that, click on the new icon call this one retouching.
Just like before we can use one of our retouching tools. I used last time the clone stamp, let's use that one again. And with this one we just hold down the option key on a mac, alt on windows and I'm just going to bring up the part of that palm tree there so that looks nice and natural. And then maybe I'll hold down the option key on mac alt on windows and just clean up any other little areas. Sometimes what can happen when you use content aware cropping is you'll see a repeating pattern.
So I'm just looking to hide that over here, even though it's out of focus and you can't even probably see that. I'm just going to do a little bit of clone work over here just say hey I want to just kind of interrupt the pattern just a little bit, and I'm doing all of that to try to make this as seamless as possible. And with those few simple adjustments, we went from this all the way to this. So content aware crop saved the day, and I can't tell you how many times it's saved me in situations like this.
Now you may be wondering well, what about the situations where you need to go really really big. Well let me show you what that might look like and I want to do that just to highlight that this tool does fall apart at some point. Let's say that what we want to do is something like this. We want to create a panoramic image from a vertical file. I press enter and return and I cross my fingers. Let's see how good of a job Photoshop does in inventing information like this.
Well when we zoom in, every time it's different, but this is pretty funny. When we zoom in you can see it copied her so she's in the image twice, and then it just had a mess of a time over here trying to invent all of this content. So it just didn't work. And we know that about content aware fill. It doesn't work when you have really really complex situations. It does work really well when you do it in smaller more incremental ways. So it's one of those tools that can save you in certain situations when you have that little bit of extra, those little extra gaps that you need to fill.
Be sure to check out how you can use that tool. If you have never used this one experiment a little bit with it because it's one that you want to learn so that when you're under pressure and you really need it, you understand how it works, so that you can use it to improve your photos. Alright well that's a wrap for this week, thanks for joining me. Look forward to seeing you next week, bye for now.
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