Better Cleanup in Photoshop


Today’s Question: What advantages does Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill have over “Spot Removal” in Lightroom Classic?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The Content-Aware Fill feature in Photoshop provides improved quality of the cleanup results along with better control over which source areas will be used to construct the cleanup pixels, compared to the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom Classic.

More Detail: The Spot Removal tool in Lightroom Classic is most similar to the Healing Brush tool in Photoshop. There is a degree of blending to help the cleanup pixels blend in with the surrounding area where you are removing a blemish, but that blending is not as sophisticated as that provided by the content-aware technology in Photoshop.

In effect, the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom Classic simply copies pixels from the source area to the destination area, and then blends the pixel values so that, for example, the color will match more closely. So, you could copy the texture from a blue area of an image to a green area of the image, and the texture would shift to green to match the destination area.

The content-aware technology in Photoshop provides a similar benefit, but with a more sophisticated approach. The overall image can be evaluated, and then various pixel areas are actually combined. In effect, Photoshop creates a new texture based on other textures found throughout the image. This can create a much more accurate cleanup with less risk of the appearance of repeated patterns in the image caused by an exact copy of pixels as is done initially with the Spot Removal tool in Lightroom Classic.

In addition, when you use the Content-Aware Fill command in Photoshop (Edit > Content-Aware Fill), you have the option to select a custom area from within the image to be used for building up the image cleanup area. You start by creating a selection of the area you want to clean up. Then choose Edit > Content-Aware Fill. You can then choose Custom for the Sampling Area Options section, and paint to define which areas of the image will or will not be used for sampling textures for the cleanup.

Another feature I really like about the Content-Aware Fill command in Photoshop, by the way, is that you can choose to place the new cleanup pixels on a new image layer, so it is easy to maintain a non-destructive workflow where you place cleanup pixels on a layer separate from the underlying image.