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Replace pixels like magic with CS5’s Content-Aware Fill command

Added on Wednesday 11th of August 2010 03:50 am EST


Adobe Photoshop CS5

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



Photoshop has an arsenal of retouching tools, each one worthy in its own right. But CS5’s Content-Aware Fill command—which replaces pixels like magic—may very well blow your socks off when you witness the healing powers packed into this one little tool.


To replace pixels with the Content-Aware Fill command, we’ll:

•     Select pixels to remove from an image.

•     Apply the Content-Aware Fill command and let Photoshop do the dirty work.

•     Demonstrate the Content-Aware option built into the Spot Healing Brush tool for further healing options.



Adobe released the Content-Aware Scale command in Photoshop CS4, which allows you to resize an image but preserve the image’s contents. New to CS5 is Content-Aware Fill, which goes a step further, doing the almost unthinkable. With this new command you can delete an image portion and let Photoshop replace those pixels so that it looks as though the image element was never there, as shown in Figure A .



Note: To read more about the Content-Aware Scale command, check out the article “Scale an image—not its contents—with CS4’s new Content-Aware Scale command” in the July 2009 issue of Inside Photoshop. You can view this article online at .




Introducing Content –Aware Fill

So how does it work? Photoshop CS5’s Content-Aware Fill command is easy to use. First, you decide and select what part of the image you want to remove. When you apply the command, Photoshop performs the calculations to figure out what the replacement pixels need to look like. Based on the surrounding area of the image portion you removed, Photoshop matches the replacement pixels to your image’s lighting, tonal contrast, color, texture, and even noise, for unbelievable results.



A few tips for working with Content-Aware Fill

•        When using Content-Aware Fill, your image must be on a locked background layer. Otherwise, Photoshop will simply delete the pixels.

•        Depending on your image source, the replacement fill pixels may not look accurate on your first try. If this happens, try again with a smaller or larger selection area.

•        For difficult areas, consider working in smaller image sections instead of trying to delete a huge image portion at once.



Retouch an image

The best way to learn how to use the tool is to dive in and retouch a few images. To follow along with our examples, download the file from the URL given at the beginning of this article, extract the files leaves.jpg and apples.jpg , and then open the file leaves.jpg, shown in  


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