A Photoshop tutorial by Art Director and founder of Pureworks, Victoria Jordan. In this tutorial we’ll be exploring the Content-Aware options in CS5. These will bring a lot of relief for anyone who has ever become frustrated when trying to extend a background. In contrast to the cold winter months ahead, we'll use this beautiful, summery photo of a sunset in a field.

Content-Aware Fill....

Here’s a beautiful landscape that I wish was bigger so I’m going to increase the width of the canvas (Image > Canvas Size). This leaves me with white areas on both sides of the image.

 white sides

I’ll select the white areas with the Magic Wand and hit Delete. The dialog box that comes up will look like this.

 Fill dialog

Under contents, click on the “Use” drop down menu and select Content-Aware…

 Fill Dialog

…and hit OK.


As you can see, Photoshop did a pretty good fill, though there are some things that I’d like to fix. Even so, it’s still a GREAT place to start when you want to extend a background. Depending on the type of extension I’m looking for, I can go back and play with the blending mode in the dialog box, and see what works best for me.

Content-Aware Healing... Let’s start again with the original image. I want to remove the two taller flowers in the foreground so I select the Spot Healing Brush, and make sure that the option in the Essentials menu bar is set to Content-Aware.

 Spot Healing Brush

I paint over the flower I want to remove. (Sometimes it’s better to paint a more random shape, it makes the tool bring in elements from the background in a less repetitive way.)

 remove flower

Now the landscape has been continued in the back ground, and most of the flower has been erased.

 flower gone

Now, I’ll remove the second flower.

 remove second flower
 second flower gone

Now, I want to fix the background where the second flower used to be so I repeat the same steps.

 fix background
 background fixed

The last thing I want to do is remove the flower buds from where they appeared when I erased the original tall flowers, so I’ll use the tool again, but paint over smaller areas.

 remove flower buds
 flower buds gone
 flower buds gone
 flower buds gone

There are still places that I’d like to tweak, but I’d probably go back to my old standard, the Clone stamp and other tools to clean them up. Hopefully, however, this new feature of CS5 will make your life a lot easier and save you some time and frustration when cleaning up a photo. And it’s not only great for landscapes, it’s great for cleaning up blemishes and shadows on portraits. Enjoy!