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How To Stretch Images & Extend Backdrops In Record Time In Photoshop

By Kishore Sawh on August 14th 2015

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Content Aware Scale has got to be one of the more brilliant tools available to photographers today. If you’re a budding photographer with little to no budget for a studio, you won’t necessarily have the size of background you’d like for certain shots, and extending it in post is a tedious, soul crushing event,  if you’re going to use the clone stamp. Frankly, if you’re a landscape shooter or any other type, you could probably benefit from a simpler way to extend your images without the nightmare that is the clone stamp tool used over a large space.

This is where Content Aware Scale can come in. Some months back I posted a tutorial on the Photoshop Crop Tool, which goes unrecognized for just how useful it actually is. With it, you can fix a tilted or misaligned image. I also showed how you could use the tool to ‘expand’ an image using Content Aware, which, incidentally, can allow you to turn a landscape oriented image into a portrait oriented image, or vice versa.


In the video herein, Aaron Nace and the Phlearn team has put together a tutorial showing this very process, and going a step further by explaining how you can avoid the warping of items in your image that you don’t want distorted during the ‘Extend’ process – ensuring their protection. This essentially is just a matter of making a selection of what you want protected, and loading it as a channel, which Aaron walks you through.

In the video tutorial, you’ll see that all there really is to this is using the crop tool to extend the borders/parameters of your image, then going to Edit>Content Aware Scale, and viola.


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It warrants saying here that while it will work as ‘advertised’ you should know that Content Aware isn’t entirely aware of your desires, and thus, doesn’t always know where to stop, or is incapable of extending as much as you like – or as flawlessly as you’d like in one go. However, you can still work incrementally and have it be exponentially faster, and likely more seamless, than if you were to use the clone tool. Generally, just extend a third or so of the distance you want, use content aware, and then start again and all should be well. This is also going to work best with images that don’t have very cluttered backgrounds.

As always, if you are a fan of Aaron’s teachings (and who isn’t?), be sure to check back here for updates, and follow along with Aaron on YouTube and Phlearn. You should also consider becoming quickly adept at Photoshop with the Phlearn Photoshop 101 & 201 sets as they are extremely comprehensive, and will have you quickly doing things with Photoshop you may have otherwise thought too complex, or didn’t even know you could do.

Source: Phlearn

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A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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    Content-aware-scale, cannot get alpha channel to protect, protected subject stretches with rest of image?? 

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  2. Laura de la Riva

    Why am I getting a white background when I crop instead of the gray and white checkers?

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  3. Joseph Prusa

    Fast way to make panos.

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  4. Clare Havill

    Fab, just learned some thing new.

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  5. Colin Woods

    How awesome is that?

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