Photoshop CS5: Content Aware Fill

Have you ever taken a great photo just to download it and discover some annoying distraction in the background? It happens to me more than I care to admit. I’ve spent way too much time cloning, patching, and smudging to try to conceal that pole in the background or to erase that random stranger who somehow made it into my photo. Not anymore! In this tutorial I will show you how to use Photoshop CS5’s Content Aware Fill feature to easily remove unwanted elements from your photo.

I’ll be using this photo of me and my son. It’s a great shot, but I really could do without the pole sticking out of my head.

Photoshop CS5: Content Aware Fill, Part I

Now grab your photo that needs some fixing and follow me!

Step 1

Press Ctrl+J (Win) / Command+J (Mac) to duplicate your background layer so you don’t accidentally save over your original. I’ve renamed my new layer as “content aware” to make it a little more descriptive.

Step 1

Step 2

To use Content Aware Fill we first need to make a selection.

Choose the Polygonal Lasso Tool


Step 2

and zoom in to make a selection around the object you want to remove. Try to get your selection close to the object, but don’t worry about being too precise.


Step 3

When you are finished making your selection and have marching ants around your object, choose Edit from the main menu and then Fill.

Step 3

Step 4

Select Content-Aware from the Contents section of the dialog box. In the Blending section use Mode: Normal, Opacity: 100%, and Preserve Transparency unchecked. Click OK.

Step 4

And walah! No more pole.


To finish up, I repeated the same steps to remove the pole’s shadow.


Content Aware Fill isn’t always 100% accurate. There may be times when you need to make several passes to fully remove an object, but it’s certainly an improvement over the old time-consuming method of cloning and patching. And stay tuned because I have an upcoming tip for how you can use Content Aware Fill to stretch your digi stash!

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