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How to use Content Aware Scale in Photoshop tutorial

Content aware scale is great for resizing photos, or more accurately, changing the shape of photos without losing important elements.

This Photoshop tutorial shows you how to use this Photoshop feature. There is a trick to make it much more accurate and you will learn that in this tut!


I hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. The full written steps are coming soon!

HIDDEN TRICK in Content Aware Scale in Photoshop

Hey Cafe Crew, it is Colin Smith here from Photoshop Cafe and today, I am going to show you how to change the shape of an image without losing any of the elements.

So here is a photograph that I have got that is wide but I’d rather use more of a square format but what I’d like to do is not lose the trees on the edges. I want to include those in here. So one of the ways you could do this is to extract, to move it or maybe use Content Aware Move but there is a better way to do that and has to use Content Aware Scale. And this is a perfect tool when it comes to reshaping images. I love getting photographs of Adobe Stock. And a lot of the time, I can find exactly the photograph I want and I am ready to go but then there’s this other times when I want to tweak it a little bit. And for example, this is a good instance because I want to change the shape of this and sometimes you want to go from landscape to portrait or from portrait to landscape. For all of these, we will work with this technique.

Okay, so what we are going to do is the first thing we want to do is unlock the background. Click on that little Padlock there and that will unlock the background and now, we want to go to Edit, Content Aware Scale. And now, watch what happens, as I drag, notice what’s happening here. It looks for the areas that don’t have too much detail and it compresses those while preserving the areas that do have detail. However, one of the things that you may have noticed, look at these two chairs here. At one time, they are the same width, now one is wider than the other. I am going to show you how to fix that.

We are going to hit the Escape key, just to cancel that movement. So what we are going to do is we are going to protect these with a mask. So we are going to hit the B for Brush but before we start painting that mask, I want to do Quick Mask. So we are going to hit the Q key for Quick Mask and now, we are actually just painting with that Mask tool. So let’s just paint over the area that we want to preserve and that’s looking pretty good.

So what I want to do now is I want to turn this into a selection. And there’s so many ways to do it and I am going to show you the way I like to do it. Just going to the Channels here and notice, we have got a Quick Mask. If I hit the Q key, notice how it toggles between a selection and a mask. I want to keep that mask there. So the way to do it is to just duplicate it by clicking and dragging and now, I get a duplicate mask. So let’s get rid of the Quick Mask. So, we are just going to hit Q and what that does is push back to a selection, Ctrl D to turn off the selection and look, we have still got our mask that we copied. Now, I want to invert this mask. So I am just going to hit Ctrl I and if we turn on our RGB at the same time, you can see, essentially we have masked off all of the image except for this area. And that is how it works.

So now make sure you click on RGB and you should see of these being highlighted and see the little Eyedropper there, by Quick Mask? Turn that off and now it is there but it is hidden. And that’s how we want to work. So we are going to go back to our layers and you should see that. Now if that layer looks kind of weird, make sure you click on RGB. I have fallen for that many times myself.

Now we are going to go and do exactly what we did before. We are going to choose Edit and now, we are going to go down to the Content Aware Scale but before we start dragging, we are going to go up here where it says Protect and if you go under there, there is our quick mask copy. That’s the mask that we have made or where we have saved it in that channel. Now, you can create it anywhere you want. You could save selection, there’s lots of ways to do that but this is just the way that I did it and now that we select that, it is going to protect it. And watch what happens. Now, as I drag, notice it will not distort our area. See that? Even when it’s got to the point where the trees are going crazy right now. You know, so we might bring it down to about here to change that aspect ratio a little bit and notice that it protects the areas that we want to protect. Now of course, if you wanted to protect the trees and things like that, you could do that as well. But right now, that’s essentially how this works.

Now, I am going to show you how well this works. Let’s go to a different one here. And if you look at this, we have got two people doing a chest-bump but they are kind of far apart. So let’s do this now. We are going to unlock it, unlocks the layer, so it is not a locked background anymore. Choose Edit, Content Aware Scale and watch this. Now, we can click and drag it all the way across and you can see, it is really amazing, how well Content Aware Scale works.

So anyway guys, I have grabbed these photos from Adobe Stock and I encourage you to go and grab some photos from there. In fact, I will give you a link underneath and it will give you 10 free images from Adobe Stock. Also if you are a Photographer and you would like to sell your photos, you can also do that on Adobe Stock. I have just become a contributor and I will add that link underneath as well.

So anyway, I hope you liked this tutorial. If you did, smash that like button into dust. If you are not part of the Cafe Crew that means that you are not a subscriber yet. Hit that subscribe button right now and you will get a new tutorial, at least once a week.

So anyway guys, add a comment, what do you think about this, do you like this technique, do you have other techniques that you’d like to share and other little tips that you’d like, in fact, maybe just drop your favorite keyboard shortcut right there, in the comments. And until next time, I will see you, at the Cafe.

The images used are from Adobe Stock

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9 responses to “How to use Content Aware Scale in Photoshop tutorial”

  1. Just out of curiosity, Colin, did you notice that the right-hand set of trees is exactly the same as the left-hand, except reversed and moved slightly to show less of the whole image? Other than that, thanks for the tutorial. I will certainly use it in the future.

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