Have you ever had a perfect shot to use as a cover photo on social media or your website except that it had tight edges, and you wished you had it just a little bit wider to add your logo over it or just to fit the cover size?
Don’t worry; you will not have to take this shot again; thanks to the magical Photoshop, you can fix this in a few simple steps. In this tutorial, you will learn how to extend your background and fix its tightness without distorting your main subject. So, let’s stretch some pixels here.
First Step: Prepare you’re layer & Adjusting your Canvas
After getting your image on Photoshop*, the first thing you have to do is click on this lock icon to edit your image on a transparent canvas space. If you didn’t remove it, your new canvas will be automatically filled with your default solid background color.
* You can open your image on Photoshop by simply drag and drop the image anywhere into the workspace or go to File → Open and then choose your image to open it.
Now let’s adjust the canvas size and add some extra space to it. You can do this using two different ways; the first of them is by going to Image → Canvas Size
Then on the Canvas Size box, decide the direction you want to expand your image by clicking the arrow pointing to the opposite direction. For instance, if you want to extend the right side of your image click on the arrow pointing to the left, and vice versa.
Also, make sure to uncheck the Relative choice as shown above, so you can adjust your canvas from one side without affecting the whole image size. Then change the Width of your image to whatever size you need to extend your image for. In my case, I will change my width from 1920 to 3000 pixels.
Another way to change your canvas size is by using the Cropping Tool by simply pressing C on your keyboard or selecting the Crop Tool from the toolbar.
Make sure to clear the cropping ratio by clicking Clear on the top bar and simply start to extend the edge of your image.
Second Step: Fill your extended canvas by using Content-Aware Scale
After expanding your canvas size, it’s time to fill that extended space by stretching the image using Content-Aware Scale. And as in step one, there are two ways to stretch your image, so let’s begin with the first one.
First, go to Edit and select Content-Aware Scale.
Make sure to uncheck this little connection icon between width and height to extend image width without affecting the height.
Then simply start to drag your edge*.
* A quick hack here: while dragging the edge of your image, notice for any distortion starts to appear in the background details and stop dragging just before the point when this distortion begins to happen.
Before you have this, press Enter to end your content extending process, go to Edit, select Content-Aware Scale, and start dragging again. Repeat this process for a new content-aware recognition each time when you begin noticing detail distortion until you feel that you have extended your image to its maximum limit.
Once you reach the image maximum limit of extension, press Enter to end Content-Aware Scaling, select the Cropping tool from the toolbar or simply press C on your keyboard and crop any empty spaces left on your canvas.
And here is the result.
Now let’s move to the second way you can extend your background with.
Extend your background using Marquee Tool
The second way depends on selecting a specific area on the background and extending it rather than stretching the whole image. Here is how you do it.
After expanding your canvas size, select the Marquee Tool from the toolbar or simply press M on your keyboard and start to select the part of the background you are going to extend.
After making your selection, go to Edit → Content-Aware Scaling and drag the image edge towards the empty space.
This will extend the only selected area and leave the rest of the image without affecting it.
After extending your background to its most, deselect your selection, and Crop any extra empty spaces on your canvas.
And you are done.
Notice that using the Marquee Tool extended only the selected area on the image without changing the main subject’s position (the man standing). Unlike using only Content-Aware Scaling, which changes the whole image’s scale to fit its new size.
The use of the Marquee Tool is more distinctive when your main subject of the photo is in the middle of the image, and you want to extend the background from only one side and excluding the other; in such case, the Marquee Tool is the perfect choice to get the job done.
Not every image can be extended, and Some photos might be easier to extend than the others as it depends on the content of the background you have. Still, Adobe Photoshop gives you the ability to extend the background of your images easily and accurately.
In the example we had, I intentionally used a kind of busy background to show how this process can affect the background details. As you notice, Photoshop has done a pretty much good job extending the image without distorting the details, yet, the main rule of success in this process is (the less content you have in the background, the easier and wider you can extend your image).
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