Content-Aware Move Tool Tutorial – Photoshop CS6 Beta

Content-Aware Move Tool Tutorial – Photoshop CS6 Beta

One of the more cutting-edge features delivered in Photoshop CS6 Beta is the brand new Content-Aware Move Tool. The concept of this tool is that you will be able to select objects in your image and move them around and Photoshop will do all the edge work and re-blend your object (face, person, building, car, etc… etc…) into whatever part of the image you move it to. The tool is a far cry from being perfect and often time’s takes a little tweaking and playing with to get a great result.

We’re going to take a look at the tool and its features so you have an understanding of how it works and how it will be able to work for you. We’ll also run over a few less-than-optimum situations to help you get accustomed to dealing with some of the rougher edges where this tool probably will not do much good for you. Let’s get started and take a look at this exciting new feature of Photoshop! It’s super cool!

Step 1:

In a nut-shell Content-Aware Move allows you to select any object in your image and move it to a new location in the image and Content-Aware Fill fills where the object was and the new tool blends your moved selection into place.

I’ve found that this tool works best in images with solid color backgrounds as well as backgrounds that contain randomly repeating patterns (grass, sand, water, concrete, dirt,), and blocks of color containing contrasting lines. All of these backgrounds Photoshop is able to “see” and match up pretty well using the Content-Aware Move Tool.

Let’s work with an “ideal” image first.

Step 2:

We want to move the bikers back toward the right of this frame and take a look at adjusting the curb strips. You can use any selection tool to create a selection of the object you wish to move (including the Content-Aware Move Tool itself). Make sure you include any shadows in your selection.

TIP: Don’t get too close to the edge of the object you’re moving! Photoshop tends to cut and blur the edges a little bit. Give Content-Aware some context to work with!

Step 3:

Once you create your selection simply drag the object to the new location and drop it. Photoshop does the work! You can see we have to re-build part of the curb, but Content-Aware Move has done a pretty nice job!

Step 4:

Before you deselect this and gloat about your handiwork, check out the Tool Options Bar and try using the different “Adaptation” settings that this tool has to re-blend and tweak your moved object. I’m going with “Very Strict”. Tighter selections seem to work better with “Very Strict” and as selections get looser, loosen up the adaptation setting. Until you get a feel for it, try any of the five settings and see what looks best!

TIP: Use the hotkey Cmd/Ctrl + H to hide the “marching ants” so you can see what your blend looks like without losing that important selection!

Step 5:

Let’s try out the other feature of this tool; the ability to extend an element of your image. Select a chuck of your image that you want to extend. I want to extend this metal platform a bit.

Step 6:

Set your Content-Aware Move Tool to use the “Extend” Mode.

Step 7:

Drag it over to extend the edge. You can see that we need to use the Content Aware Move Tool a couple more times to fill this platform to the edge of the image, but check out how perfectly the pattern matches up! Woah! This is where I’ve found the Content-Aware Move Tool really shines.

Step 8:

I’m going to use the Content-Aware Move Tool to extend this platform to the edges of the frame and clean up the edge a little bit with my Healing Brush Tool (J) and dump the curb strip using my Patch Tool (J).

Step 9:

You can see that there is some serious power packed into this tool! Content-Aware Move is going to be a game-changer; at some point down the road. See, this image has all the properties that make using Content-Aware Move a joy. It’s a HUGE time-saver if you have an image that works with the tool. We all know this isn’t always the case. Let’s look at some other situations.

Step 10:

This is an image I shot down in some sand dunes in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. I want to move these two characters closer to the kids on the top of the dune raising their arms. I’m going to select the two people I want to move.

Step 11:

Ensure that the Content-Aware Move Tool is set to “Move” and then I’m going to drag them over to the left a bit.

Step 12:

Setting the adaptation of this tool to “Loose” seems to patch up the sandy area they came from best. There is still a big chunk of the sand left around their heads which should not be there and there is some blending work to do over where they came from. Not bad, but not ideal.

Step 13:

Let’s clean it all up using the Healing Brush (J). Cleaned up, it’s not that bad!

Step 14:

This next image we want to move our subject (pants!) over to the right side of the frame.

Step 15:

Create your selection.

Step 16:

Ensure that the Content-Aware Move Tool is set to “Move”. Drag the object over toward the right and… woah! You can see that this tool still has some difficulty filling in large areas that cover different levels of focus, lights/darks, and different colors and shape.

Step 17:

Play with different adaptations if you want, but not much is going to help an image with this kind of content-aware fill. On the bright side Content-Aware Move does a wonderful job blending our object into the new area!

Step 18:

Bonus Tip! We can use the Content-Aware Move Tool to copy objects within our scene as well! Set the tool to “Extend” and select an object you want to copy and simply grab it and move it to the new area. Check out what I did with the bikers in seconds! (Nope, didn’t even clean it up a bit!)

Step 19:

That’s it! The new Content-Aware Move Tool is supremely powerful. Right now it is a time-saving tool and in nearly all instances will save you time when moving objects around within an image! I’m confident that as Content-Aware Fill gets more and more powerful this tool will become amazingly useful to all Photoshop users!


Follow Me On Twitter!

Like Tutvid on Facebook!

Nathaniel Dodson
I make videos about being creative with photography, design, and filmmaking. I'm a commercial photographer, a logo designer, a camera nerd, an artist, a wannabe thinker, and I like to read books. I arrived on planet earth in the year 1989.