Final Tips and Tricks


Cloning, Patching and Content-Aware for Beginners


Lesson Info

Final Tips and Tricks

So here's an example. This is a photograph that started off in Camera Raw and based on the lens I used, it was, let's see if I can, I guess I can put it back to, yeah. So here's the default, and because of the lens it just looked a little awkward. It didn't look like the perspective was quite correct, so Raw has this nice option called transform upright where you can say there, that looks better, but then you'll see it's got these areas, anytime you see checkerboard in Photoshop and Camera Raw that means nothing. So in order to get the church looking the right way, it's left these big gaps. So I'm not gonna bother trying to fix those in Camera Raw because it just would be not very easy to do so. So that's how it came in. So I need to basically fill in these areas somehow magically with more information, and that's where content-aware fill comes in, but here's the problem. Because this came in as a Camera Raw smart object, it's considered, remember that whole idea of a smart object is t...

hose pixels reside somewhere else? So I can't use content-aware fill directly on here, because the pixels don't exist there. So in order to be able to demonstrate how content-aware fill would work, I'd have to do this, just 'cause I'm a stickler for having options, is copy it and then take this top one, I use a command called rasterize layer, which means now it's just back to regular pixels. But I still have a Camera Raw version just in case I change my mind. So let's see what content-aware fill does in this case out of the box. That was a bad selection, I'll get a little closer here. So I select the area that transparent pixels where I'd like to have it fill in. So I go to fill, content-aware, click okay. And the sky looks pretty good, but see what it's done down there? It's just said let me put some of the church windows down there for you, 'cause that makes perfect sense. And I could probably try umpteen times going well let me undo and try it again, and try it again, well at a certain point it's just not gonna work. So this goes back to, you asked the question about hiding an area, this is exactly what we can do. And it's one of these things where, I remember the day someone from Adobe showed this idea and he kind of went would this be helpful? And I was just like why did I never think of that, that makes such perfect sense. So because we have these ability to do things in Photoshop that are temporary, and one of them being like a layer mask. Let me just make a selection, make sure I get our whole church in here. And now I add the layer mask, and here's an example where it needs to be the other way around so I invert it. So now if I go back to the layer and make my selection like this, and use content-aware fill. So I'll go fill, oops edit, fill, content-aware, okay. Now there's no way it can use part of the church because it doesn't exist. Now it still did some parts there that weren't quite as good, so let me try and see if I can do it again, if it's any better, it may or may not be. It's still not the greatest, but now I could still, 'kay, say well that's alright, so now let me take this area and do content-aware fill. That's better, then this part over here. Oops. That looks pretty good, and then the final step is just throw away the layer mask. Now, I would look at this and say I still feel like I wanna do a little bit of tweaking there, but again, compared to the alternative of I don't know what, like, using the clone stamp tool for a long time? So this has kinda become a very common technique for me is to take advantage of that temporary nature of a layer mask, is to say hide the areas you wanna make sure that content-aware fill doesn't use, and then once it's done its job, throw away the layer mask to get the rest of it back again, okay? Like I said, the only catch to this is content-aware fill only works on a regular layer. Doesn't work on a smart object layer, so if I wanted to preserve the editing capability of Camera Raw, I wouldn't really be able to in this particular instance. So you have to kind of weigh the balance a little bit. So if that was the case, I just make sure that whatever editing I was doing from an exposure, et cetera standpoint, I'd have to be pretty darn sure that's the way I want it. Or if I didn't, then use some other method, again, like an adjustment layer to do further tweaking to it to get the kind of results that I want. This is, again, referred to as a beginner's class, but I reason I show that's a little more advanced than perhaps for beginners, but otherwise people would take 10 times longer to try and get it to work, so it's important to know that option exists. Alright, so, let's go back here. Get rid of some of these other ones I don't need. So the other type of content-aware that's kinda people lose track of, 'cause content-aware fill is like the exciting one that people use and go wow, look, you can just cover that whole thing up and that's really cool. So I have never tried this before, but just out of curiosity, let's just see how good content-aware fill is. Try this, that's a way, whenever I see a new feature in Photoshop I'm like wow that looks really cool. Let me try and see if I can get it to not work, see how good it really is, so let's just try this content-aware fill. It's not bad, considering everything I asked it to do. So the other content-aware fill though that's kind of interesting, is when you want to take a photograph like this one and it's landscape orientation, but I really like it to be portrait. Now I could just, I suppose in theory, just crop it directly to that size, but I wanna try and keep some of the information. So I want to try and transform it by pushing the edges in a little bit to make it more of a tall photograph. And of course if I did that normally, I'd have to unlock the background layer and use free transform, and, there we go, looks perfect. No, so that's a bit of a problem. So there's another content-aware option called content-aware scale, which is not a retouching in the sense of covering something up, it's configuring your photograph differently, but doing it in an intelligent way. So instead of that, where you're squishing all the pixels, in this case I can say, well whatever happens, I wanna make sure that she and this sculpture do not get squished the wrong way, okay? So there's a kind of a two-step process. So the first one is you make a selection of the information you wanna make sure is not effected by this content-aware scale. And then you go to the select menu and choose save selection. Then, once you've done that, now once you've just in case you have never used that command before, whenever you do that it creates an indication of your selection that looks like that called alpha one, that's just gonna become important in a moment. So now we go to edit, and choose content-aware scale, not free transform, and up here in the options bar you'll see there's a little menu says protect and it currently says none. You change that to alpha one, which was that thing that was just created for you. Now, if there are people in the photograph, I don't know that it's necessary, but I like to click the men's washroom symbol 'cause it just seems interesting that that's what that is. I don't know what (light laugh) they did that, but anyway. Watch what happens now as I start to compress, see what's happening? See how it's trying its best to keep her as it is and compress everything else. Now at a certain point, I mean I'm pushing it really far, so at a certain point the windows start to kinda compress on each other, but again, there's no other way to do this. So for some situations, it really, it's quite magical to do that and kinda see, apparently, the way this works is that technology it looks for seams of information. Goes I can remove those pixels, but it does it so fast that it's just letting you squish, and pixels are being taken out. But again, I often say compared to the alternative, well there really isn't an alternative in this case other than just, well I'll just have to crop it this way. But if you want to have, there are certain information in there that's really important, you know, I've used it for portraits where people were standing a little further apart than I'd like, I wanna make it look like they were closer. And just, I mean it's crazy how well it works, it really is quite remarkable, okay? So that's that, now let me undo that and show you the other content-aware function. Which this one, it's still kind of mind-boggling to me what it does. 'Cause the number of times before this tool, someone would say to me on a photograph like this, can you just move her over a bit? Now, translated into Photoshop, that means copy and paste her, and then cover her up where she originally was. I mean that's a huge amount of work. Yeah I'll just copy those pixels and then spend forever trying to cover her up with the clone stamp tool. Well now there's a tool that does it automatically, and I gotta tell you, often it's staggering how good it is. I mean you'll still often have a little bit of clean up, but nothing like in the past, it's still pretty darn fast. So do the same thing, add a blank layer. And then this tool is called the content-aware move tool. I'm gonna make sure it's set to move, sample all layers, there's also an option to transform after you drop it. I don't need that on in this case. And then again, you just make your selection. I always like to add a little more than I need. And we'll say that we just want her maybe over here. And then you just let go, and it says let me just calculate that for you, and it. I mean again, it's not perfect yet, but it's pretty darn close isn't it? And that's, like, I didn't even have a stopwatch on that 'cause it happened so fast. I mean it was like what, five, 10 seconds? I mean that's remarkable. So the trick is, to me, select a little more than you need, 'cause I tried it where I made a really tight selection and it just didn't work as well 'cause there wasn't enough kind of a blending area. But I'll show you what it just did. Look, it just basically generated those pixels that didn't exist before, but it did it in a very intelligent way. The whole concept of content-aware is be aware of your surroundings and generate pixels intelligently. So this, I wouldn't tell my friends this, 'cause then they'll all want me to do this kinda work, but I know now when someone says just move them over, you know, I'm like well, maybe. And I've had cases where I did it. And like I said, I hate to say it but when I see a new feature I'm kinda like take with a grain of salt until I try it, and I always try a really challenging one. The first time I tried content-aware move, I had a photograph with a crazy stone wall behind a couple, and I moved them way over and it went bloop and just did it perfect, I'm like that is really impressive. And again, even if it's not perfect, like in this case, it's still pretty darn good, but there's something weird happening down here, well then I just go in and do a bit more work. But I always remind us that when you think about before some of these tools, it would've taken way more time than this. So anytime I hear someone say, you know, content-aware fill didn't do that great a job I'm like seriously, like what if I just took that command away from you completely. Now you have to do it all yourself by hand, by cloning and stuff, don't be complaining anymore really. You should just not complain. And especially when you combine them together. So you do content-aware move, then going now I need a bit of patching and I'll use the healing tool a little bit. Gosh, the kind of retouching we can do now compared to even 10 years ago, eight years ago, I mean it's pretty remarkable. There's one other aspect of the content-aware move tool that I always forget about, 'cause that one's pretty cool. Let's see the best way to show you this. Okay, so I'm gonna add a bit more canvas, so I'll just a little trick here. Anytime you want more canvas size, I could go to the image menu, to canvas size and try and figure out the math of what I need, but I often find it easier to do, what I don't if this is an official term but I call it reverse cropping. Instead of using the cropping tool to move in, if you drag the crop tool to move out it just adds more canvas for you automatically, visually. But now I wanted to extend this bridge so it looks natural. It's gonna be a little tough because there's a bit of perspective in it, but we'll try it. So in this case, let's just try taking the marquee selection. I'm gonna select more than I need, that's part of the trick. If I only selected a little sliver and tried to get it to extend, the chances are it's not gonna work very well. So then we go to, I'm sorry, the content-aware move tool, but there's an option called extend. And as I drag it over to maybe about there, so it does some calculations. And it attempts to blend it in so I'll undo that 'cause I forgot to add a new layer so I can show you better how it actually works. So let me do this, gonna add a guide. That's where I made the selection, but if I hide that you can see look at how much extra information it generated to try and help with the blend. So if you have a piece that you're trying to move, now I've got a bit more room to try and fix some other things. So even though I only asked it to take this little piece and extend it over, it generates, just like with the other content-aware function we used, the moving of her over, it generates pixels basically from scratch, which is pretty remarkable. So if there are times where you just need that photograph to be just a little wider, this one isn't a great example because there's just enough perspective in there that it doesn't quite work, but I might still be able to kind of fool it because this is still a separate layer, so I might be able to do the free transform, and then use some keyboard commands to try and make it fit better, I dunno, maybe not. But anyway, so content-aware move actually has two very distinctly different functions, but, and I should mention this actually, 'cause I didn't do it 'cause I was just happy that it worked pretty well on me. Go back here and revert this. Remember we talked about the patch tool, I said one of it's advantages is it's one of the few tools that you can adjust settings live, this is the other one. So if I move her over here, and when it does its content-aware, oops I was still on extend, (light laugh) that's not good. It's always good when your Photoshop instructor says oops. So you can see, okay in that case it didn't work quite as well, so let's see if I go in and change some of these settings. Mmm, little better. So each time it's trying its best. Now once you get past how amazing content-aware move tool can be, look closely 'cause I've had times where I'm like that's great, and then I went a little closer and realized she now has a much bigger forehead than she did a couple of seconds ago. So sometimes you have to look a little more closely, 'cause it's doing a great job for the most part, but then you look a little closer and go uh, wait a minute. You know, so that's the only part you have to be careful. But if you put it, again, into the perspective of compared to what we used to have to do before, it's still pretty amazing what it does. So to kinda wrap things up. When someone asks me what tool do you use for retouching? My answer is always all of them. I mean, but I have a very specific, I start with the automatic ones like anyone that's content-aware fill related. The patch tool, the spot healing brush, I try those first because they're so fast and automatic. If they don't work the way I want or I need to do further work on top of that, then I'll start using some of the other tools. And oddly enough, the clone stamp tool for me has gone from being my number one to my last on the list. Just because it's all up to me, everything else is more automatic. But together they create this really nice set of tools so you can end up with the result that you want. And just remember as much as possible, try and use layers as part of your process so that you can go back in and make further adjustments.

Class Description

Clone Stamp, Patch and Content-Aware are three of Photoshop®’s most indispensable retouching tools. In this class, Dave Cross will define and compare these popular features and explore the different ways to use them. Flaws, mistakes and imperfections on your images can be frustrating. This comprehensive course will help you develop the skills you need to tackle almost any retouching challenge that comes across your screen.