How to Stretch Images using Content Aware Scale

today I'm going to show you how to use content aware scale in Photoshop you hey guys and welcome to phlearn my name is Aaron NACE and you can find me on phlearn comm where we make learning photoshop & photography fun and today's episode it's all about the content aware scale tool now if you're curious on what that is basically it's a way for you to stretch the borders of your image we're going to show you how to make your image larger either width or height and actually add pixels to the image without disrupting the important information that's in the photo now this technique is going to be best when you have an image with large open space so if you have a sky you'd like to make larger or you have a desert or a lake you'd like to make wider it's going to be perfect if you got a picture of a very highly detailed object and you want to stretch it out that's gonna be a little bit harder so keep that in mind as you move forward all right so let's go ahead and jump into Photoshop and see this tool at work so here's our image for today we got this from Fotolia calm beautiful stock image and I like the square format but I'm thinking you know what what it would this look like as a landscape or maybe as a panorama I want it to be a bit wire so the first thing I'm going to do is grab my crop tool and we're going to extend the boundaries out a little bit wider so here we've got our crop tool I'm gonna just click right here on the edge you know what let's zoom out a little bit more let's click on the edge here and I'm just going to drag this to the right now you can see it's only extending one side of my image if I hold the alt or the option key it extends both sides of my image at the same time so you can see I'm able to bring my image up to right about there alright that looks pretty good we're going to go ahead and hit enter so after we extended out our borders it's time to actually extend out our image now I'm going to show you some of the limitations with the regular transform tool so let's go ahead and duplicate our background someone hit ctrl or command J to duplicate the background and now we're just going to use our move tool and then I hit ctrl or command T to bring up transform okay so this brings up our boundaries here now I can stretch this out really easily and if you stretch out a little bit it's not going to make that big of a difference but if I start stretching it out like I want to fill the entire with our image we get something like this we get our guide looks super weird and it basically just stretches out the entire image which we don't want because it's going to ruin part of your image so that's not what we want now another option you might think like oh let's just grab our like lasso tool and like let's just you know select out just the area we want to stretch out and try just doing that so like we've got a an area selected there I'm going to hit ctrl or command T and bring this out there we go and it works kind of but what you wind up getting is you wind up getting stuff like this where like your selection actually moves with everything that you moves with everything so instead of actually being a smooth transition between the area that you just stretched out you can see you now have a stretched out area and the regular area underneath it so that doesn't work either so now we know we want to stretch our content horizontally but we don't want to mess with the guy and the pier so we're gonna use content aware scale so here on my layer we're gonna go to edit and then down to content aware scale all right now here in content aware scale we've got a couple of options we've got options for how we want to move it left and right our width and our height and by how much and then we have options for protect and then we have a little protect skin which we're going to talk about that in just a second for now I just want to show you how the tool works so content aware scale now I'm going to hold the alt or the option key and we're going to click and drag this out from left to right and you're going to see it's scaling our entire background it's scaling basically anywhere it sees that there's not a ton of information it's going to stretch that but information that should be vital to the image like the guy here in the middle that stays intact that's what content where the scale does it finds the content and it scales it appropriately now let's just see this other version by the way we're just going to show you the regular scale version there we go so that's just stretching it out and this is the content aware scale version you can see it works much much better now what happens if you want to isolate just an area you want to make sure you protect a certain area and don't scale that area well that's where the protect comes in we're going to show you how to use that now so you remember if you go to content aware scale you've got these things up here that say protect right now it says none I don't have any other options and then we have one that's going to protect for skin tones now in this case we don't have any skin tone so that's not going to do anything but I do want to go ahead and protect something and I'm just like how do I do it my only option is none here's what we do we need to make a selection of the object you actually want to protect so let's go ahead and grab our wand tool here I'm going to go ahead and click on the outside lets you know what let's bring our tolerance up here oftentimes I actually want to quote-unquote protect the guy and the doc like I don't want those to be part of my selection but it's easier to just select out the rest of my image instead of try to select out just him right so I'm selecting out the rest of my image and then I can invert my selection which you can do by hitting shift command I invert my selection and now I'm just selected on the man so now that I have the man and the peer selected I'm going to go ahead and load this as a channel so we're going to click here on our channels right now we have our RGB we've got red green and blue now I'm going to click on the new channel icon and it's go ahead and create alpha 1 now you're like what does that mean it's basically just a way to get you information in Photoshop that's based on light and dark information so alpha 1 is created and it's black but the guy in the center I want to make sure that that's filled with white so I'm going to hit shift delete and we're going to say use white there we go so now we have a selection of the guy and the pier and nothing else on the image right that that's all it is okay so we have that in order now it's time to jump back to a regular layer and do the content to where scale protecting alpha 1 all right so let's get back to our layer here and we're going to click on our copy alright now it's time to do the same thing so edit we're going to go down to content aware scale everything looks the exact same but now here where it says protect instead of having the only option being none I have the option for alpha 1 which is just it's what we just created if you wanted to call it like dude selection you could do that too it really doesn't matter but it's it's going to make sure now to not scale this area it's because we just said don't do that so hopefully listened all right so let's go ahead and start bringing this out and I'm going to hold alt or option and pull that out from left to right alright so we've content-aware scaled with protecting the guy here in the middle and as you can see he's exactly how he was before and we've really stretched out both the right side and the left side but because we use the content aware scale it doesn't look funky it doesn't look like you know it looks normal it looks pretty dang normal actually which is exactly what you want and we stretch this out pretty far so let's go ahead and look at the before and the after alright guys here's the before and here's the after so you can see content aware scale is an awesome tool especially when you have blank areas on either the sides or the top or the bottom of your photos you can stretch them out and then print it out and beautifully you have a landscape with no additional work very very cool tool so the next time you want to add some width or height to your image check out the content aware scale to do so just select an image that has a decent bit of blank space either on the sides the top or the bottom next go to your edit menu and then down to content aware scale from here you can grab the edges of your image and just stretch out as you normally would and if you find there's an area in your photo that you want to make sure does not get stretched go ahead and make it into a selection load it as an alpha Channel and then use the protect feature in the content aware scale to make sure it protects that channel and lastly here's a little tip that I find works sometimes if you try to scale something like super big it doesn't work like it'll look great so here and then you go a little bit further and it starts to look bad so just go like halfway and then hit enter and then hit content aware scale and then just do it again and 99% of the time that takes care of it so there we go content aware scale guys thanks so much for watching today's episode if you enjoyed learning about the content aware scale be sure to check out our pro tutorials we have Photoshop 101 and 201 it's our best-selling bundle introduces you to Photoshop and brings you from start to finish on images we cover everything there is to know about the program including compositing if you have any questions about today's episode please leave them in a comment down below and if you'd like to learn more from Florin comm just hit that subscribe button on your screen now what's gonna do free photoshop & photography episodes every single week if that's what we do we just sit here and just keep making episodes so long as you guys keep watching them I'm just they keep on making them thanks so much guys we'll phlearn you later bye everyone nope I don't want this on the screen we're gonna leave it in the intro though because I nailed it I nailed it yeah say hi to camera I don't know if you're in the pan cook it get it get in here I am NOT out fulfill anything for sure yeah there just happened the real life behind phlearn what really happens it's real I'm really doing this apparently we did it great success that was very fast hardly any mistakes quite a few mistakes but you

35 thoughts on “How to Stretch Images using Content Aware Scale

  1. Can we make a portrait by printing out these images into a higher scale ?

    Reason : So that we can put those frames on our home walls .

    Question might look weird but I hope u answer it for ur fan .

  2. This does not work for my image. Maybe there is not enough space above to stretch vertically? What is the work around to get a consistent extended background?

  3. I don't understand why when I try this it only expands one side of the image. Even if I hold down Alt…. it just moves the subject (without distorting) over to one side and completely expands and distorts the other side…

  4. There appears to be no clear instruction on extending out 'borders' (more correctly 'canvas') and extending out 'image'. Following the instruction only the image is extended, and the expanded area becomes 'the image', not the expanded canvas shown. In consequence this expanded 'image' is not differentiated from what is supposed to be the border. I assume something else was done which was not explained clearly. You can expand the canvas by going into edit/canvas size, but this is not demonstrated. Equally neither does the image only expand one-way in content aware scale, but if nothing else is done (as is shown) rather both H and W expand together. To change W only you need to type in the value or change some other setting which is not commented upon or demonstrated to get the effect shown. I assume therefore there are little tweeks that enable what is shown, but following along does not produce the sequence of results – as shown. On the other hand could be the difference between Mac and Win or now using a later version of Photoshop? LATER NOTE: I have been looking around. Now in Photoshop maintaining aspect ratio is the auto default (reversed from previous versions of Photoshop and what is demonstrated). You now have to press the shift key to break the aspect ratio to get the effect demonstrated as you stretch.

  5. This didn't work for me. I did all the steps and went back several times to make sure I didn't miss anything and the portion of the image I tried to exclude continued to change. So, either you missed a step or it doesn't work with cloud PS

  6. I cannot get the adjustment to be restricted to the x-axis. The tool insists on keeping the same aspect ratio. How do I turn that off?

  7. Thank you for teaching us for free all these years. I am definitely going to sign up for ur pro subscription to master a few things 🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 we appreciate your gift and natural ability to teach 💪🏾

  8. I want to do something similar but using Darktable or Photoshop Express for iphone. Any thoughts?

  9. awesome vid! i have been using photoshop for quite awhile and i am just now learning about content aware. i love your vids. they are super helpful and informative and you are awesome at explaining things!

  10. i cant find this wand this I got the magic one but it doesnt select everything I get blotches PLEASE HELP!

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