When an image is scaled, each individual pixel is squashed or stretched, and if scaled in only one direction, rather than proportionally, the image is distorted. Content-aware scaling attempts to analyze the image, based on user-specified criteria, and preserve areas of detail. Content-aware scaling can be applied to RGB, CMYK, and gray-scale images. It doesn't work on layer masks, adjustment layers, 3-D layers, or Smart Objects.
This feature works the same in Adobe Photoshop CS6 and CC versions.
- First, the layer must be unlocked. If need be, click the lock icon in the Layers Panel to unlock the layer.
- Go to Edit > Content-Aware Scale.
- Look at the Options Bar to see the scaling preserve criteria that can be specified:
- Reference Point Selector: Click on a node in the icon [ ].
- Reference Point Position: Enter the x and y coordinates for the location to preserve.
- Amount: Specify the ratio of content-aware scaling to normal scaling as a percentage.
- Protect: Choose an alpha channel as an area to protect.
- Protect Skin Tones: Protect regions based on skin-tone colors.
- Content-aware scaling works like normal scaling in free-transform mode. You pull at the handles on the transformation bounding box to scale the image.
- This image has had the width only scaled to the right, from the center reference point, using both normal scaling (Free Transform) and Content-Aware Scale. Note the detail preserved in the image's original center region.
- In this image, the width only was scaled using both normal scaling and the Protect Skin Tones [ ] option with content-aware scaling.
- The last example will use Content-Aware Scale with an alpha channel I created selected in the Protect Alpha Channel option.
- Width-only content-aware scaling with alpha channel protection: