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How to Use Content Aware Fill in Photoshop

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There are a lot of techniques to remove objects from the background.
You can use the clone stamp tool for example but then you’ll have to do most of the work. Luckily, there is a technique where Photoshop will do it for you.
In this article, I’ll show you how to use Content Aware Fill in Photoshop.

When to Use Content Aware Fill

There are a lot of Photoshop tools and techniques to remove objects. The difficulty is to learn which tool will work on the photo you have.
For difficult tasks, you want tools that give you full control. For easier projects, Photoshop has tools that will do everything for you. It takes practice to learn which is the right tool for your project.
Removing objects with Content Aware Fill is perfect for those easy tasks. In the first example, I’ll remove the boat on the right from a photo taken in Varanasi, India.
A coastal landscape with a boat highlighted before its removed using content aware fill in Photoshop

How to Use Content Aware Fill

Make sure the toolbar is visible on the left side. If not, go to Window > Tools to make it appear.
A screenshot of How to Use Content Aware Fill in Photoshop

Step 1: Select the Object

Select the Lasso selecting tool (Shortcut ‘L’). Make a selection of the object that you want to remove. Don’t make it too tight. It’s better to select more than needed.
In my example, I have to include shadows and reflections of the boat too.
A screenshot of selecting the lasso tool to remove an object from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop

Step 2: Content Aware Fill

Go to Edit > Fill. A new window will pop up.
A screenshot of How to Use Content Aware Fill in Photoshop
Select ‘Content-Aware’ if it’s not already. Don’t change anything else and click OK.
A screenshot of How to Use Content Aware Fill in Photoshop
Photoshop will replace the object you’ve selected. It uses pixels based on the surrounding areas.
Sometimes, you might have to try and make another selection if you don’t like the result.
A screenshot of selecting the lasso tool to remove an object from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop
A screenshot of selecting the lasso tool to remove an object from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop
This technique works well for simple backgrounds like water or air. If Photoshop can’t get it right, there’s another technique you can try.
In the next example, I’ll combine Content Aware Fill with the Patch tool.

How to Use Content Aware Fill With the Patch tool

The Patch tool will give you more control over the result. I’ll remove the man in the red shirt on the right.
A screenshot of how to remove a person from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop

Step 1: Make a Selection With the Patch Tool

Select the Patch tool from the tool bar on the left. Shortcut ‘J’. Make a selection on the object you want to remove.
This time, it’s better to keep the selection tighter.
A screenshot of how to remove a person from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop

Step 2: Content Aware Fill and Patch Tool

Select ‘Content-Aware’ in the Patch tool drop-down menu.
A screenshot of how to remove a person from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop
Click on your selection and drag it to a similar area in the photo. In my case, I have to make sure the cracks in the floor line up.
A screenshot of how to remove a person from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop
Let go and Photoshop will replace the object with new pixels based on the surrounding area.
A screenshot of how to remove a person from a photo using content aware fill in Photoshop
If the result isn’t perfect, it’s best to clean up using the clone stamp tool. This gives you even more control to fill in the details and make it look natural.

Conclusion

Learn which tool will be best for the job and removing objects will be easy. Try out different techniques on the same photo so you learn the difference between each one. Using Content Aware Fill in Photoshop is great for simple tasks.
Soon, you’ll be able to remove objects and people from busy backgrounds. No one will ever know that you did.

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