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Five Adobe Photoshop CS5 Tips in Five Days: Tip 2 - Finish Building Panoramas in Photoshop CS5

By  Apr 13, 2010

Topics: Adobe Photoshop

The new Content-Aware Fill Feature in Adobe® Photoshop® CS5 is a great way to remove items in a specific image.  But did you know that the tool is also great for adding stuff in places where it's missing - namely panoramas? Let’s explore this a little further.

One of the problems that people face when shooting panoramas is that the stitching of them in Photoshop usually results in large empty gaps at the corners.  Photoshop does its best at trying to distort the series of images to make sure they fit.  Because of this distortion, it leaves those open holes.

Click on File>Automate>Photomerge.  Inside of the Photomerge dialog box, select the series of images that you want to merge together.  If you have only a series of files, select the Files option.  If you'd rather not individually select files and just want it to process a folder, select the Folder option.

Once the files are loaded in the window, you’ll see that there are a series of checkboxes at the bottom.  The two most important ones here are “Blend Images Together” and “Geometric Distortion Correction.”  These two settings will make sure that the stitching of the panorama goes as smoothly as possible.  For the settings on the left, the Auto setting is almost always the default I use.

The image will then start its merge process, and once that’s complete you’ll see the gaps in the corners of the document.  Rather than crop in and lose portions of the document, let’s go ahead and add to it.

Click on Layer>Flatten Image to merge all of the masked layers into one image. If your image is saved as a 16-bit file, I’d recommend converting the image into an 8-bit image, as the process might take a little longer, and you may get an out-of-memory error if you try it with 16-bit files. (This all depends on how much RAM you have on your computer, obviously.)

Once that’s done, select your Magic Wand tool and click on any transparent swatch area that is in the corners.  If you are not able to get all of the transparent swatch pieces in the image, hold down your SHIFT key and click on the other areas. (Note: you can also uncheck the “Contiguous” option at the top of the Magic Wand tool to do this. Just make sure you put it back when its done.)  Click on Select>Modify>Expand and set it for a few pixels, checking that you have a little overlap in the image.  This will prevent a line appearing around the edges of that panorama.

Once your selection is set, click on Shift-Delete or Edit>Fill.  This will bring up the Fill dialog box. The first option will be to use the Content-Aware setting.  Click OK and in a couple of moments the image will be filled with the area around it – usually yielding pretty good results.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

First, this may not work for all images, but it will usually get you a lot closer than just cloning on your own.  Second, the Content-Aware Fill tool is pretty random.  If at first you don’t see something that’s agreeable, I would perform an undo and try the process again.  The next result may be a little bit better.