How To Use The New Content Aware Crop Feature Of Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

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How To Use The New Content Aware Crop Feature Of Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

The image of a church on the left shows Content Aware Cropping is on and the image ion the right shows the result.
Content Aware Crop In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015 is a most welcome addition to the Photoshop line up.

Last month I showed how to use the Select and Mask Task Space in the latest round of Photoshop updates. There was a lot more goodness under the Photoshop hood than the introduction of the task space. In this “How To” I am going show how to use the new Content Aware Crop feature.

Cropping images in Photoshop has always been, to be gentle, problematic. This is especially true if the subject to be cropped is tilted. This requires an eventual trip to the Photoshop Perspective Crop Tool. This works really well but if the image need a bit of rotation to bring things back to level there will inevitably be areas of the photo that have no pixel data resulting in yet another trip to the Crop Tool.

With the introduction of Content Aware Crop Tool this entire process can be done in one screen. Let’s get started.

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How To Enable The Content-Aware Feature in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

The Crop Tool and the Content Aware Crop option are highlighted.
Identify the crop area and turn on Content aware Crop in the Options.

In the above photo the traffic light on the left and some of the sky need to go. Notice, too, the church is tilted. This means I need to not only crop the image but also rotate it in order to not have the church look like it is about to fall over.

The process starts by selecting the crop tool and identifying the crop area. The next step is to click the Content-Aware check box which turns on the Crop tool’s Content-Aware option.

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How To Create A Content Aware Crop In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

The image is rotated to align the church with the vertical guides in the Crop area
The great advantage to Content Aware Cropping is the ability to include non content areas in a crop.

What you don’t do is press the Return/Enter key to create the crop. Instead move the cursor to an outside corner of the crop area. When you do this, the cursor changes to a double-pointed curved arrow which you can then drag to rotate or otherwise straighten the image. As you do this, a crop grid appears. In this case, I aligned one of the church spires with a vertical line on the grid. Also, note the  checkerboard in the bottom left  and top right areas of the crop area. This indicates there is no content in this area and will be filled in thanks to the Content-Aware Crop.

To accept the crop, press the Return/Enter key or click the Check Mark in the Tool Options.

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How To Straighten An Image With Content Aware Crop

The of a dam has been rotated in Content Aware Cropping to to straighten a horizon line in the image.
Content Aware Crops can be used for minor tweaks such as straightening an image.

As you have seen, Content Aware Cropping makes your life so much easier. There is another use for this tool which removes a potential pain point from your workflow. There will be occasions where the image is just a bit out of level. For example, in the above image the line of the water flowing over the dam tilts a short way down to the left. A logical solution would be to use the Perspective Crop Tool but the problem here is, even though you can use it to bring the dam back to level, you will still need to eventually crop out the resulting transparent areas from the image.

If the image needs a touch of rotation select the Crop Tool, turn on Content Aware Crop and rotate the image to match a grid line.

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How To Change The Aspect Ratio With Content Aware Crop

Image shows the before and after result of setting a crop's aspect ratio using the Content aware Crop feature.
You can even change the aspect ratio of a crop and not have to worry about non content areas like the Pasteboard.

There will be occasions where a rectangular or square photo needs to be cropped to a new aspect ratio. It is inevitable that the chosen aspect ratio results in a smaller result than required meaning the image will have to be dragged around inside the crop area to avoid overhanging the boundaries of the image or the crop area, itself, will have to be resized. Content Aware Crop solves this issue.

In the above photo I selected the Crop Tool and selected 1:1 Square in the Crop Tool Options. This changes any crop area to a square. I dragged out the crop area to include the giant stone outcrop and, to keep the crop square, had to include some of the pasteboard under the photo.

To accept the crop, I pressed the Return/Enter key or, alternatively, could have clicked the Check Mark in the Options. Notice how the final result on the right has the pasteboard areas filled in thanks to Content Aware Cropping.