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Using Content Aware Scale in Photoshop
David Smith on Sat, April 14th 0 comments
Modifying a photo from a portrait to landscape while keeping a realistic looking background used to be impossible. Not so with Adobe Photoshop's Content Aware Scale feature. David Smith explores.

One of the big "ooh, aah, wow!" features of Photoshop CS5 was undoubtedly the Content Aware Fill feature. If you haven’t used it yet where have you been and what have you been doing? Anyway, the point is that Content Aware has been a feature of Photoshop since before CS5’s release. If you don’t believe me read on.

Unedited image

Unedited image


This image is a pretty regular rectangular photo. However what I need is a much longer landscape shot, perhaps to use as a banner ad backdrop, or to just make the dog appear more solitary. To do this I need to increase the image width, however I don’t want to distort the Dog or its shadow. Content aware scale will do this no problem at all. 


Step 1 - Select the Dog

Now any number of selection tools would achieve a selection around the dog. On this occasion however the function that will prove most effective is to use the Select Color Range option, Select > Color Range

Select Range

Select Range


Use the Eyedropper to click on the darkest pixels of the Dog to start the selection.


Step 2 - Fuzziness

Initially very little of the Dog will be selected (as indicated by the black and white preview of the selection). To improve the selection, pull the Fuzziness slider up to 107. 

picture full of fuziness

picture full of fuziness


This increases the range of the selection until the dog and its shadow are clearly selected.

Some of the sand has also been selected, but as these areas are nowhere near the outline of the Dog this is not a problem. 


Step 3 - Clean up the Selection

Click OK to return to the image, and to activate the selection. Then switch on the Quick Mask Mode (press - Q). to enable the editing of the selection, in order to remove the beach from the selected area. 

Quick Mask Mode Painted

Quick Mask Mode Painted


Use a large black brush to paint over the areas that require to be removed until only the Dog and its reflection are left selected. Press Q again to switch off the Quick Mask Mode and return to the selection. 


Step 4 - Refine the Selection Edge

To perfect the selection open the Refine Edge panel Select > Refine Edge (or press Option-Command-R). 

Refine Window

Refine Window


Use the Smart Radius function, set to 7.8px to enhance the selection. Also use the Shift Edge tool set to +15, the Contrast to 16% and soften the edge with the Feather set to 0.3px. This just tidies up the selection that bit more. Then click OK. 


Step 5 - Save the Selection

For the Content Aware Scale to function, the selection must be saved as a Channel, where everything white will be protected from distortion. 


Pic 6 - Selection Saved

To save this selection choose Select > Save Selection and name it “Dog”. Then deselect the selection using Command-D.


Step 7 - Create a Transparent Background Layer

Convert any Background layer to a regular layer (double-click on the Background name) and then add a new layer below the image layer:

Layers

Layers


Step 8 - Increase the Canvas Size

To start the process of increasing the image size, use the Canvas Size editor rather than the Image Size editor. This creates space for the image to be transformed with the Content Aware Scale tool later. 

Open the Canvas Size window or press Option-Command-C.

Canvas Size

Canvas Size


Set the width to 250%, and move the Anchor Point to the Right so that the image will grow to the left of screen only. Then Press OK.(TIP: Press COMMAND - 0 (zero) to zoom the canvas to 100% to see this change in full effect.)


Step 9 - Content Aware Scale

Apply the Content Aware Scale tool Edit > Content Aware Scale (or press Option-Shift-Command-C).

protect

protect


Before modifying the image's width, use the Protect drop-down Menu to select the “Dog” channel you saved in step 5. This ensures the Dog and its reflection remain unchanged. 

Once that's done drag the left edge of the photo as far to the left as you can. So the image looks like this:

final pic

final pic


Once you are finished press Return to apply the transformation and you are left with a beautiful landscape image!



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