Content Aware Fill May Leave You Discontent

February 28, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Content Aware Fill May Leave You Discontent

Content Aware Fill and Adobe Photoshop CS5 (This is a review from 2011. I have since used this feature in newer versions of Photoshop and I cannot tell that the feature has improved at all. Of course Your Mileage May Vary)

Since the release of Adobe Photoshop CS5, the web has been filled with descriptions of some of the almost magical features of this program. Perhaps the most touted feature of CS5 is the Fill or Content Aware Fill feature.

What is promised?

The promise is that with little to no effort from the photographer, unwanted objects can be outlined and selected and then by selecting “Fill” from the edit menu the item will be removed and CS5 will seamlessly fill in the void with content appropriate material. In the past this type of “Fill” could only be accomplished by painstakingly cloning and pasting the area by hand or in some cases actually painting areas with the appropriate colors and textures. Either of these solutions could be time consuming and challenging to the casual Photoshop user or the less than artistically inclined user.

What is delivered?

If you are to believe the cherry-picked examples littering YouTube and web tutorials, Adobe has hit a home run and all those people that studied graphic arts in school should pack it in and start practicing how to say “Do you want fries with that?” 

The Truth Sometimes the Content Aware Fill gets it close. However, my experience is a classic example of “Your Mileage May Vary.” Does Content Aware Fill work? You be the judge. Here is the first image on which I tried content aware fill.

Original Image
Original

This image has a post in the upper right hand corner that detracts from the overall photo. I want to remove this post: a perfect test for Content Aware Fill.

Detail of post to be removed.
Post to be Removed

1) Using a selection tool select the item to be removed.
Select Item to be Replaced

2) Select Fill from the Edit Menu.
Select Fill

3) Select Content Aware Fill.
Select Content Aware

4) The Result.
Content Aware Result

5) Detail of the Result.
Content Aware Replace Highlight

As you can see the post has been removed but the fill is not very good. I also decided to replace the post by hand using the clone stamp. Here are the results.

Post removed by traditional clone/stamp method.
By hand

Detail of the post removed by traditional clone/stamp method.
By Hand

Side by side comparison. The image on the left is done by hand and the image on the right used the Content Aware Fill in CS5.
SBS

Conclusion

At least for me, Content Aware Fill is not going to replace the tried and true clone and stamp method of object removal. Close but no cigar on this feature. 

As I said, your mileage may vary. 

Enjoy.


Note: Some people may criticize my choice to use a sepia image in this test. I also performed the same test with a color version of the photo and the results shown in the sepia image are representative of the results obtained using the full color counterpart of the image.


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