Design & UX
By Jennifer Farley

Using Content-Aware Fill To Remove Unwanted Objects From Photographs

By Jennifer Farley

Content-Aware Fill lets you repair or replace large, complex areas from photographs by firstly drawing selections around them and then letting Photoshop work its magic.

Using Content-Aware Fill is not the same as cloning. You are not copying one part of an image to another part as you do with the Clone tool. You can fill any selection with content similar to the content around it to remove objects and people. It is incredibly fast and easy.

  1. Open your image in Photoshop. I’m using a photograph I took earlier this year in England. There is a man jumping in the air on the jetty, and a small red boat that I would like to remove from the picture.
  2. It’s always a good idea to make changes on a separate layer (just in case of accidents), so press Ctrl + J / Cmd + J to duplicate your original layer. The original photo is now safe on the background and you can edit on the new layer.
  3. Draw a selection around the object that you want to remove. In this instance, I used the Lasso Tool (L) and drew a loose Selection around the man.2-SelectionAroundMan
  4. Choose Edit > Fill.
  5. In the Fill dialog box, choose Content-Aware from the Use menu, and click OK. The selection changes to match the area around it.3-Fill

    And as if by magic … he’s gone.


  6. Choose Select > Deselect or press Ctrl + D.
  7. Now to get rid of the small boat. Use the Lasso tool to draw a loose selection around it.5-RedBoat
  8. Choose Edit > Fill, choose Content-Aware from the Use menu, and click OK.6-BoatGone
  9. Choose Select > Deselect or press Ctrl + D.
    And voila! The retouched photograph sans jumping man and red boat.7-FinalRetouch

And there you have it. Fast and very easy. The Content Aware Fill does not replace the Clone, Healing Brush or Patch tools. It’s just a great addition to the existing retouching arsenal in Photoshop.

  • w1nk5

    this tool has changed my life

  • strgt

    Any comments on how to do the same using Gimp?

  • bob e

    That is really nice.
    I wish had this feature too :)

    Is there a way to paste the removed object in another area on the screen – for example say you wanrted to move the guy from the dock to the large ship…

  • tkemma

    Kool article. I’m using CS3 and using Spot Healing brush tool to remove unwanted items on a photo.

  • tkemma

    I guess this works in only CS4 n CS5?

  • BoxedinDesign

    Yea, it works great on brick backgrounds too, along with grass textures. Love it.

  • wyndham

    I’m using CS4 and there’s no content aware selection in the edit-fill menu. There’s foreground and background color, pattern, history, etc., but no content aware. Did you use CS4 for this tutorial?

    • Jon

      It’s in CS5.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks Jon. Gotta update :D

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