Did your annoying uncle photobomb your best party pic? Let’s learn how to remove unwanted elements in a photo, so Uncle Hamish doesn’t put a damper on your next shindig.

Photoshop’s Content Aware tools are really good at filling in the background of a photo when you either delete or move an element. This is what Adobe has to say about Photoshop’s Content-Aware feature:

Content-Aware seamlessly fills the selection with similar image content nearby. For the best results, create a selection that extends slightly into the area you want to replicate. (A quick lasso or marquee selection is often sufficient.) Adobe

Before performing any of these operations, it's important to duplicate the original layer, so we preserve our non-destructive workflow.

Content-Aware Fill

Content-Aware fill is great for either deleting or moving elements in a photo.

Delete an Element

In the image below, we want to erase the wires, the path and the fence. Select them with the Lasso Tool. Hit Shift-F5 to fill. Remember to duplicate the affected layer before cloning.

content-aware-fill
Select the elements of the photo, then use Content-Aware Fill to erase them on a duplicate of the layer.

Move an Element

The microphone in the photo was obviously not positioned at the right location, above the woman. Let’s use the Content-Aware Move tool to shift it over. Remember to duplicate the layer before making the edit.

content-aware-move
Select the microphone along with some of its surrounding content. Use the Content-Aware Move Tool to scootch it over.

Content-Aware Patch

We can completely remove elements from a photo using the Patch Tool. It uses Content-Aware technology to fill intelligently.

content-aware-patch
Now she's there. Now she's gone. Use the Patch Tool with Content-Aware turned on to preserve the background.

All you need to do is use the Lasso Tool to select around the subject.Switch to the Patch Tool. Set it to Conent-Aware in the Control Bar. Move the subject to a carefully chosen area.

Content-Aware Scale

Content-Aware Scale allows you to stretch or shrink a photo. It fills in new areas between existing pixels with its best guess of how it should look. This works best with photos that have low-energy areas. Use Edit > Conent-Aware Scale or hit ⌘-Option-Shift-C to envoke it.

content-aware-scale
Content-Aware Scale can stretch or shrink a photo, only affecting low energy areas.

Content-Aware Crop

While Content-Aware Scale adds pixels within the photo, Content-Aware Crop adds content on the outside of the photo. It expands the canvas, then fills in that new space intelligently.

content-aware-crop
Content-Aware Crop has added new content to the left of the boys.

Photomerge

Photoshop’s Photomerge feature stitches together a series of overlapping photos to create a panoramic composition. You can access it from File > Automate > Photomerge…

photomerge-menu-dialogue
Photoshop's Photomerge dialogue

The Content-Aware feature is built right into the Photomerge process. Check the box at the bottom of the dialogue to turn it on.

photomerge-content-aware-not-filled
This is the panorama without Content-Aware fill applied.

If you turn off the composite layer, you’ll see the panorama without Content-Aware filled areas.

photomerge-layers-masks
Photoshop's Photomerge creates masked layers and a composite layer.

The Photomerge function behaves like a good Photoshop citizen, in a non-destructive manner. It saves separate layers with layer masks on each. If you need to, you can edit its work after the fact.

photomerge-content-aware-done
Content-Aware fill has been applied to the panorama. It's rather seamless.

Formative Activity

Use the various Content-Aware tools on the provided photos.

01-content-aware-fill.psd
Remove the wires from the sky on a duplicate of the original layer. Make sure to name all layers for all of these images.
02-content-aware-move.psd
Move the Cuba sign using the Content-Aware Move tool. Move it to the right side of the image.
03-content-aware-patch.psd
Get rid of the girl. Use the Patch Tool with Content-Aware turned on. You can use cloning tools after the fact to edit out any flowers that look like they’ve been repeated. Just make sure your edits are non-destructive.
04-content-aware-scale.psd
Use Content-Aware Scale to widen a duplicate of the layer with the dude on it. You can actually scale it quite a bit.
05-content-aware-crop.psd
Use Content-Aware cropping to extend the height of the sky and the grass. Be reasonable with the extension size. After a while, Photoshop will create a discernable pattern.
06-photomerge
Create a panorama with the Photomerge feature. Make sure you have Content-Aware turned on.