Content Aware Magic Part 2

Last week just got away from me with all kinds of stuff going on at work so I didn’t get my blog done.   The week before though, I wrote about some of the useful things that Adobe introduced with the set of Content Aware tools.  I wanted to wrap up by showing the ways to control the way your image shrinks and expands.   Here is an image from last year’s golf tournament.

Let’s say I wanted to reformat this into a square image, but didn’t want to crop out either the clubhouse or that cool clump of trees on the left.  Well if I just try to use content aware scale on the image and squish it, then things start looking very strange.  

There is a fairly easy way to ensure that the things you really need to keep intact are not touched.  It does require you to play with something from the old days in Photoshop, the Channels palate.  You used to have to do everything now done with adjustment layers and masks by creating Alpha channels.  All an Alpha channel is, is a saved selection.  With that in mind, let’s go back to our image.  Using any one of the selection tools ensure that you have protected the pieces you don’t want changed.  

Once you have done this, simple go over to the channels tab and at the bottom, chose “Save selection as channel”.  It will then allow you to rename it to something you can remember. This is a photo of my friend Jerry, who will be retiring at the end of the month--lucky stiff.

Go back to the layers menu and deselect the selection you made.  Open up the Edit>>Content Aware Scale and make your picture the size you want.  Either before you do this or afterwards—it really doesn’t matter, select the box at the top that says Protect:, the pull down menu will show you the channel you created and named earlier.   

Your image will readjust and boom you are done.  Well, almost…

When I made the selection of the people, I chose to not make them contiguous. The content aware algorithm went in and removed some of the space between them.  Just to make it easier to see, here is what the original selection looked like overlaid on top of the new version.

You can see how you need to be careful to select the right things.  Look at the details of the houses in the background.

Squished houses

Squished houses

They don’t look right, and if I was going to do something with this image, I would go back and select those too and reprocess the image.