Feathering for Content-Aware


Today’s Question: If I use Photoshop’s Content Aware tools to move or eliminate an object in a photo would I get a better result if you select the offending object with feathering or without? Any general rules about feathering?

Tim’s Quick Answer: As a general rule I recommend applying a small amount of feathering to selections used with the Content-Aware technology in Photoshop. The amount of feathering will vary based on how much blending you will need along the cleanup edges in the photo.

More Detail: The whole point of the Content-Aware technology in Photoshop is to intelligently remove various blemishes from a photo, including advanced blending to ensure that the cleanup work blends in seamlessly with the surrounding area. That may call for different degrees of blending along the edges based on the degree of texture in the photo.

As a very general rule you will get good results with a feathering of about 10 pixels before using the Content-Aware Fill command (or other tools or commands that employ the Content-Aware feature). For cleanup areas that have significant fine texture and detail, you may need to use a lower value, possibly even excluding that feathering altogether. But those are, in my experience, somewhat rare scenarios.

For images with very little texture, you may want to use more feathering, perhaps as much as around 25 to 50 pixels. Again, the specific value that will work best varies based on the texture in the area in which you’re performing the cleanup work. A value of 10 pixels is a good general starting point, but you’ll want to carefully evaluate the edges of the cleanup area to confirm you achieved a good result. If there isn’t enough blending, undo to the step before feathering and repeat your cleanup with more feathering applied. If there is too much blending along the edge, resulting in oddly blurred artifacts, step backward to the step before feathering and repeat the process with a lower value for feathering.

To learn more about optimizing your photos in Photoshop, you may be interested in my “Photoshop for Photographers” bundle of video training courses, available at a discounted price through the GreyLearning library by following this link: