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Content Aware Fill in Photoshop 2019

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By Chris Malinao

We used to do Clone Stamp back in the day to remove unwanted objects in our photos and replace them with pixels from nearby. When Photoshop CS5 came, Adobe invented Content Aware Fill and it was almost amazing, except for the fact that it sometimes worked but most of the time failed. If you’re not that familiar with Photoshop, Content Aware Fill was supposed to remove an unwanted, distracting element in the photo and replace it with pixels from the surrounding area and make it look seamless; it was shameful, however, most of the time.

So, Adobe made a refresh. First, they gave Content Aware Fill its own proper space in the new Photoshop menu, Edit > Content Aware Fill, instead of the previous Edit > Fill dialog, which is still available. The ensuing dialog box allows you to define and exclude source areas.

 Fig-1. The new Content Aware Fill tool in Photoshop 2019 has its own dialog space now and gives the user more control on where to get the pixels in place of removed objects.


Fig-1. The new Content Aware Fill tool in Photoshop 2019 has its own dialog space now and gives the user more control on where to get the pixels in place of removed objects.

In our example in Fig.-1, there’s a piece of wet paper that litters the foreground; we want to remove that. We first select the object by using the Lasso tool and going to the menu for Edit > Content Aware Fill. The resulting dialog box allows you more control with available options.

That green square tells Photoshop where to sample, and obviously we don’t want to get pixels from the motorcycle tire, nor from the clump of grass nearby. We can erase those areas with the brush in eraser mode by clicking on the minus sign or by pressing the Alt key (Opt key for Mac). In the example, I erased the green patch from most of the top portion where the tricycle and the grass clump are included. The preview image on the right of the dialog box shows the result immediately.

The Content Aware Fill dialog box offers the following options:

Sampling Options:

  • Opacity: Controls visibility of the green overlay. Default is 50 percent.
  • Color: Choose any color aside from the default green.
  • Indicates: Selects what the mask targets, the sampled areas or excluded areas.

Fill Settings: 

  • Color Adaptation: Allows contrast and brightness to adapt for a better match. Good for filling content with gradual color or texture changes.
  • Rotation Adaptation: Allows content rotation for a better match. Good for filling content with rotated or curved patterns.
  • Scale: Allows content resizing for a better match. Good for filling content with repeating patterns of different sizes or under perspective.
  • Mirror: Allows content to be flipped horizontally for a better match. Useful for images with horizontal symmetry.

Output Settings: 

  • Current Layer: Performs the fill in the currently selected layer.
  • New Layer: The fill generates the new pixels in a new layer for a non-destructive workflow.
  • Duplicate Layer: generates the fill in a duplicate of the original layer.

In summary, the new Content Aware Fill could be the best feature of Photoshop 2019. Adobe says it provides an interactive editing experience to achieve seamless results. You get control over the sampling area that is used by the content-aware technology to fill the selected portion of the image and several other settings to adjust the fill result. You also get a live full-resolution preview of the changes and an option to output the result to a new layer. Until the next time, see you soon then. Ciao!

(Chris Malinao teaches digital post-processing methods such as the Lightroom workflow software and Photoshop editing software to photography students at the FPPF (Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation), a  non-profit organization that offers year-round workshops in Comprehensive Digital Photography, Advanced Photography, Wedding Photography, Strobist Lighting, Food Photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, and other specialty photography workshops. For details of FPPF workshops, please visit www.photoworldmanila.com.)

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