Have you ever tried straightening a tilted photo? Typically, you must crop the photo since it leaves empty space. However, Photoshop can fill in those empty spaces realistically. Here’s how to straighten the horizon without cropping.
Content-Aware Crop automates filling in empty space after cropping. This can occur when you are trying to fix a crooked horizon line in an image.
Ordinarily, you would straighten the horizon line by rotating the image while keeping the same crop. However, this leaves empty spaces. Often, you need to go in manually and fill in these empty spaces via cloning or a content-aware tool.
Content-Aware Crop alleviates that by automatically filling in the empty spaces in the image. This can be a minimal fill. However, if you pulled the edges out, you could fill in more room. More on that later.
Straightening an image using Content-Aware Crop
Step 1: Select the Crop Tool
The Crop Tool is located on the left side. Then click anywhere in the photo to enable the grid. It typically defaults to thirds, as shown below.
Step 2: Select Content-Aware and Straighten
These are located in the Option menu on the top left corner.
Step 3: Draw a line across the horizon you want straightened
Since you selected the Straighten icon, you can draw a line across the horizon. This will let Photoshop know what you want straightened.
Photoshop will straighten your photo. After a few seconds, it will also fill in any empty spaces.
Step 4: Fix anything in the filled areas that looks odd
Often, Photoshop will fill in the corners quite satisfactorily. However, sometimes, it will add something that you don’t want to have. Simply select the Lasso Tool. Draw a line around the area that you want changed. Then use the Clone Stamp or Content-Aware Fill to do the rest.
Bonus tip: Creating more space in a cramped image
If you want the Content-Aware Crop Tool to add a little more space to a cramped image, start out the same way as above. But this time, grab one of the corners or sides and drag it to where you want more space. The Content-Aware Crop Tool will attempt to fill in this space for you.
Remember that Photoshop is generating part of a new image to fill in these empty spaces. The more you drag out the border, the greater the chance that Photoshop begins generating odd graphics. As you might suspect, Photoshop is best when it works in corner areas with consistent colors or patterns. It generally does very well in filling in skies (with or without clouds), grass, sand or continuing patterns.
Please let me know how this works for you in the comments section. Also, if you have developed a different workflow for straightening horizon lines while filling in the empty spaces, please share that as well!