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How to Use Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop: A Complete Guide

Imagine being able to magically remove unwanted objects or people from your photos with just a few clicks. Well, with Photoshop’s powerful Content-Aware Fill feature, you can make this dream a reality.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of harnessing the full potential of Content-Aware Fill, unlocking endless creative possibilities for your digital masterpieces. Let’s begin:

Tools to Fine-Tune Sampling and Fill Areas

1. Sampling Brush Tool

The Sampling Brush Tool is a powerful feature in Photoshop that lets you manually select content sampling areas.

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Sampling Brush Tool

Here’s how to make the most of it:

  • Select the Add mode to include areas in the sampling overlay, or use Subtract mode to exclude specific regions.
  • Toggle between Add and Subtract modes by holding the Alt/Option key while brushing.
  • Adjust the brush size conveniently using the Size option or bracket keys.
  • Refine the brush hardness as needed.

By painting over the reference regions with precise brushwork, you can effortlessly eliminate unwanted elements, ensuring a seamless match with the surrounding background during the filling process and achieving a polished and refined outcome.

2. Selection Refinement Tools

In addition to the Sampling Brush Tool, Photoshop provides a set of Selection Refinement Tools that enable precise boundary definition for selections, such as the Lasso or Polygonal Lasso Tool.

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Selection Refinement Tools

To maximize their potential:

  • Familiarize yourself with the various modes available, such as New Selection, Add To Selection, Subtract From Selection, and Intersect With Selection, accessible by pressing “E.”
  • Furthermore, you can expand or contract the selection using the provided options, adjusting the pixel count as needed.
  • Should you need to revert to the original state, simply click “Reset” in the toolbar.

Point to Note: Changing the selection resets the sampling area; however, the brush strokes are retained, and the selection updates upon exiting the Content-Aware Fill workspace.

3. Navigation Tools

Navigation Tools are essential for efficiently working with Content-Aware Fill.

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Navigation Tools

The Zoom Tool allows you to magnify specific areas of the image, providing a closer view for detailed editing.

The Hand Tool allows you to pan and move around the image, making it easier to navigate and access different parts of the canvas.

These tools ensure that you have complete control over the image and can effectively utilize Content-Aware Fill to its fullest potential.

How to Use Content-Aware Fill-In Photoshop

1. With the image you want to edit open in Photoshop, first create a duplicate background layer for safety. Press Command J (Windows: Option J).

Press Command J
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2. Select the area you want to remove using a selection tool like the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the left toolbox.

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3. With the selection tool active, click around the area you wish to remove to create the selection.

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4. Go to Edit and choose Fill.

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5. In the Fill dialog box under contents, select the “Content-Aware” option.

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6. Click OK, and Photoshop will use the Content-Aware Fill algorithm to remove the selected area.

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7. Review the result and refine it further if necessary using additional tools like the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush.

8. Zoom in/out to ensure a seamless removal and make any required adjustments.

9. Save the edited image in your desired format to preserve the changes made.

How to Undo a Mistake

If Photoshop’s algorithm doesn’t produce the desired result, there is a quick and easy way to fix it:

  1. Press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac) to instantly undo the most recent action.
  2. Repeat the shortcut to continue undoing previous actions up to 50 times in Photoshop.
  3. Alternatively, access the History panel by going to Window > History.
  4. In the History panel, click on a specific state/step to revert the image to that point.
  5. Use the History panel to navigate and undo multiple actions if needed.

Important: Once you save and close the application, changes usually become permanent. Therefore, utilizing the undo options while you’re still working on your project is essential to rectify any mistakes and achieve the desired outcome.

Settings and Tools of Content Aware Fill In Photoshop

1. Settings of Content-Aware Fill Tool Adjustment

Sampling Area Overlay

The Sampling Area Overlay is a visual representation that shows the sampled content used by Content-Aware Fill. It helps you understand which areas will be used for the filling process.

Here are a few adjustments you can make:

  • Opacity: Adjusting the opacity setting allows you to control the transparency of the fill result, seamlessly blending it with the surrounding background.
  • Color: With Content-Aware Fill, you can modify the color adaptation. This feature enables you to match the color and tone of the fill result more accurately to ensure a natural blend.
  • Sampling Area/Exclude Area: In addition to selecting the sampling area, you can also specify areas to exclude from the fill process. This allows for precise control over which parts of the image are used as a reference.

Sampling Area Options

Here’s where you can get precise control over how the sampling area is chosen.

  • Auto option: automatically analyzes the image and selects an optimal sampling area.
  • Rectangular option: lets you manually define a rectangular region as the sampling area.
  • Custom option: grants the flexibility to freely paint or draw a custom sampling area for more targeted content selection.

Fill Settings

Fill Settings provide the ability to fine-tune the intensity and characteristics of the fill result.

  • Color Adaptation enables you to seamlessly adjust the color blending to match the surrounding elements.
  • Rotation Adaptation allows you to control the rotation of the sampled content, ensuring it aligns naturally with the image.
  • Scale Adaptation offers the flexibility to adjust the size of the fill result for a more harmonious composition.
  • Mirror allows you to mirror or flip the sampled content, opening creative possibilities.

Output Settings

This determines the output result of Content-Aware Fill. You can choose options such as:

  • New Layer: creates a new layer with only the filled content
  • Current Layer: replace the existing content by placing the image on the current editing layer
  • Duplicate Layer: Copies the entire image, including the fill, to a new layer.

2. Tools of Content Aware Fill In Photoshop

Content-Aware Move Tool

This tool allows you to move or extend objects within an image while automatically filling in the surrounding area with content that matches the surrounding pixels.

To use the Content-Aware Move Tool: 

1. Select the Content-Aware Move Tool from the Photoshop toolbox.

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2. Click and drag around the object you want to move to create a selection.

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3. While holding the mouse button, drag the selection to the desired new location.

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4. Release the mouse button to apply the move. Photoshop will automatically fill the original area with content sampled from the surrounding area.

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5. Review and refine the result using additional tools like the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush for fine adjustments if necessary.

Spot Healing Brush With Content-Aware

This tool lets you quickly and easily remove minor imperfections, blemishes, or unwanted objects from an image.

  • To use the Spot Healing Brush with Content-Aware:
  • Select the “Spot Healing Brush” tool from the Photoshop toolbox.
  • Confirm that the “Content-Aware” option is selected in the options bar at the top.
  • Adjust the brush size according to the area you want to remove.
  • Click and brush over the imperfections or unwanted objects you wish to eliminate.
  • Release the brush, and Photoshop will automatically analyze the surrounding area and intelligently fill in the removed portion with appropriate content.
  • Repeat the process for any other areas you want to retouch or remove.

Patch Tool With Content-Aware

The Patch Tool allows you to make precise selections and replace or retouch areas of an image seamlessly.

To use the Patch Tool with Content-Aware: 

1. Select the Patch Tool from the Photoshop toolbox.

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2. In the options bar at the top, ensure that “Content-Aware” is selected as the Patch Type.

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3. Draw a selection around the area you want to replace or retouch using the Patch Tool. 

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4. Click and drag the selected area to a new location within the image you want to use as a source for the replacement. 

5. Release the mouse button to apply the patch. 

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6. Photoshop will automatically analyze the surrounding content and intelligently fill the selected area with appropriate content, blending it with the rest of the image. 

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7. Review and refine the result using additional tools like the Clone Stamp or Healing Brush for fine adjustments if necessary.


So whether you need to remove unwanted objects, retouch imperfections, or seamlessly relocate elements within a composition, Content-Aware Fill empowers you to achieve professional results quickly.

By understanding the various tools, settings, and techniques involved, you can harness the full potential of Content-Aware Fill to create visually stunning and captivating digital masterpieces. So, go ahead and explore the power of Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop, and let your creativity flourish like never before.

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