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Recomposing Picture Elements with Content-Aware Move and Content-Aware Patch in Adobe Photoshop CS6

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This tutorial provides two examples of how these new Content-Aware additions in Photoshop CS6 can help you to recompose or remove elements in your pictures that are slightly out of place, or that are not as easily removed by other methods.
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Adobe Photoshop CS6 offers some impressive new retouching and re-composition tools. Adobe has improved the Content-Aware technology first introduced in Photoshop CS4 by adding a brand new tool called Content-Aware Move. It is part of the same group as the Patch tool, which has been improved as well, offering a new Content-Aware option for replacement of selected pixel regions.

This tutorial provides two examples of how these new Content-Aware additions in Photoshop CS6 can help you to recompose or remove elements in your pictures that are slightly out of place, or which are not as easily removed by other methods. Let’s take a look at Content-Aware Move first.

Overview - Content Aware Move Tool

To select the new Content-Aware Move tool, press the J key (or shift-J), until you see an icon that looks like the one shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The new Content-Aware Move tool is found in the same group as the Patch and Healing Brush tools.

The Content-Aware Move tool allows you to take an object in your frame that is set against a relatively homogenous background, move it, and then blend the object into a new set of pixel coordinates. Content-Aware Move does this intelligently by looking at the texture (i.e. colors, brightness, details) of the object’s original and new surroundings. It then uses that information to seamlessly blend the object into the new area, and to seamlessly fill the gap the object leaves behind. You can now accomplish in two or three steps what often required a dozen or more steps with previous versions of Photoshop.

Keep in mind that a successful result with this tool is often predicated on the background being a “knowable” quantity for Photoshop. For example, if you were to capture a single shot of someone standing in front of a complex piece of machinery, when you move the subject with Content-Aware Move, Photoshop will have a hard time knowing how to replicate the (real-world) appearance in the gap you leave behind, because it doesn’t know what the machine looks like. With a relatively uniform texture though, Photoshop does a great job of blending objects and backgrounds.

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