One of the most annoying parts of straightening images in Adobe Photoshop has to do with the loss of photo content after the crop. As you twist a photo, the crop area shrinks to compensate for the reduction of area around the edges of the photo. If you’ve ever worked in Photoshop before and if you have done a lot of cropping, you certainly know what I’m referring to. This is especially bad if you’re trying to keep as much of the photo as you possibly can.
Luckily, Photoshop has a really awesome feature that can help you keep as much as the photo as possible, while still straightening it out. This feature is called Content-Aware Crop and it works rather marvelously.
In today’s post, I’m going to introduce Photoshop’s very cool Content-Aware Crop feature to you. The entire thing takes only one quick click of the mouse to activate, so this should be a very straightforward post.
The Demo Photo
For this post, I’ll be using a photo of a dog in front of a lake. The reason I chose this particular photo is because it’s obviously crooked. It needs straightening either by hand or by using the Straighten Tool in Photoshop. I think I’ll probably go with the Straighten Tool because it’s so easy to use and it’ll likely give me a more accurate result. This tool only assists with the crop and it twists the picture in the same exact way as turning it by hand would, so which method I use really makes no difference in the long run.
Straightening the Photo
This image is already opened in Photoshop in its own tab. To straighten this photo out, I’ll click on the Crop Tool icon in the left vertical toolbar to create the crop grid overlay on the photo.
From here, I’ll click on the Straighten Tool up in the options bar.
I’ll draw the straighten line from one edge of the photo to the other. Since I have a water horizon line, I’ll just use that as a guide. By the way, if you would like to learn how to use this Straighten Tool in more depth, please take a look at this post:
If you look closely at the above screenshot, you’ll see the line I just spoke of running from one side to the other.
Once I draw that line, I can see the photo twist one way or the other. And as I stated above, when it does this, the crop grid shrinks down to compensate for the loss of area. Take a look at this next screenshot. The checkerboard area and anything outside the crop grid will be deleted during a normal crop.
If I were to click Enter on my keyboard right now, all that area would be lost. My photo would also be smaller. Since I don’t want that to happen, I’ll take advantage of the tool this entire post is about.
If I look up at the options bar while the Crop Tool is in action, I’ll see a small check box that’s labeled Content-Aware. Basically, by checking this box, I’ll be telling Photoshop to use its magic to fill in any area that has that checkerboard pattern in it.
The tip in yellow in the above screenshot says Content-Aware Fill Areas Outside the Original Image.
Using Content-Aware Fill During a Crop
So, what happens when I click Enter to apply the crop? Well, the crop grid won’t crop where it currently is. It will actually move back to the outer edge of the entire photo and crop from there, making it so I won’t lose any material from the photo. While that’s happening, Photoshop will fill in any empty areas inside of that outer edge. I’ll go ahead now and press Enter.
You probably can’t see the edges that were filled in because Photoshop did such a good job at it, but they were. Photoshop used an algorithm to fill the areas with colors and shapes that were similar to what was near the area to be filled. That’s why they match up so well.
Oftentimes, when attempting something like this, Photoshop won’t get the results exactly perfect. You may notice some odd artifacts or something like that inside the areas that used to be empty checkerboard pattern. When this happens, feel free to use the Spot Healing Brush Tool or the Lasso Tool combined with a fill option to clean any errors up.
As I said at the beginning of this post, this small feature in Photoshop is quite simple to take advantage of. I hope I did a good job explaining how to use it. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!