Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Content Aware Fill And Dave Cross' "Trick".

Today’s image is sort of a follow up on both Monday’s post and on last Friday’s post. Monday’s because I received a couple of questions about the colors in the Caribbean. I did saturate the colors after using Adobe Photoshop CS5s HDR Toning, but I can assure everyone that the colors in Antigua are just about that intense. Today’s image is taken from high on the cruise ship and is a three panel panorama. That’s where last Friday’s post comes into the picture (bad pun). The pano is made up of a typical hand held series of shots and has the typical offsets found when attempting to get three shots while shifting around. CS5s Content Aware Fill was used with a technique I saw Dave Cross (of Photoshop User TV fame) demonstrate. Rather than cropping to get square edges the Content Aware Fill allowed the image to be filled out creating the rectangle shape. The trick is giving CAF a head start. Check the “read more” to find out what the trick is. Meanwhile, back at the colors, the Caribbean is full of brightly colored buildings, with each island having their own, unique combinations. The images for today and Monday have both been hit with CS5s HDR Toning. It did a good job bringing out details, but pumping up the colors is better suited to being done after the HDR Toning is complete. To find out more, hit the “read more”.

We’ll quickly go through Dave Cross’ trick for more accurate Content Aware Fill for either straightened images or panoramas. (For a more complete description I’ll defer to Dave.) Once the pano is stitched or the image straightened you will typically have some area outside the image that’ll be empty. This is one (possibly the only one) use for the “tragic” Magic Wand Tool (W). If the empty border fully surrounds the image (possible in panos), make sure the Contiguous is checked. One click in the empty area and you’ve made your choice. If tips of the image touch the edges of the frame, just use the Add To (Shift) option and select each empty section. Now, here’s the “trick”. Go to Select/Modify/Expand and give yourself about a ten pixel expansion of the empty areas. That should “dig into” the image and give the Content Aware Fill feature a head start on figuring out where you want to go with the fill. If you don’t expand the selection I’ve seen it (had it happen) produce a dashed line around the original image that would need to be corrected in another step. Dave’s trick is much faster and more elegant, eliminating the need for more work. One step is always better than several.

One of the “nice” things about the colors of the Caribbean is that you can go nuts. In just about any other circumstance I can think of the limit of bringing up the saturation using individual Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers is to get to the limit of believability. With the bright colors of the Caribbean you can go way past what would be nature for other scenes and still have something that looks good. The big thing is to push the limits and see where it takes you.