Photoshop has a new AI-powered fix for your compositional mistakes

Photoshop has matched its growing number of AI-powered rivals with a new feature that lets you expand images with a few clicks.

Like the existing Generative Fill, the new Generative Expand feature – available to Photoshop (Beta) users – lets you extend an existing image in any direction, with the software filling in the extra space either automatically or based on the guidance of your prompts.

If you already know how to use Generative Fill in Photoshop, then you'll quickly be able to pick up Generative Expand. It's based on the same AI generative tech, but instead works with the Crop tool (rather than the Marquee or Lasso tools).

In fact, it's a bit like using the Crop tool in reverse. Rather than cropping images smaller, the feature lets you fix compositional mistakes or effectively switch to a wider angle view. You just select the Crop tool from the toolbar, go to the Fill menu in the Options bars, and select Generative Expand.

Once you've done that, it's a case of dragging the corner and side handles to the size you want, then clicking the 'Generative Expand' button. You can leave Photoshop to guess what it should added to the image (which it's very good at, based on our experiences with Generative Fill) or add a text prompt to give it a helping hand.

From the demos so far, it looks like another very useful AI feature, with photo-realistic results. Like its rivals – for example, Midjourney's 'outpainting' feature – there is are potential mistakes and artifacts, but Photoshop also gives you three variations of your expanded image to choose from.

Adobe now has a full guide to using Generative Expand – and if you aren't already using Photoshop (Beta), you can download it by going to your Creative Cloud download app and clicking 'Beta apps' on the left-hand side.

Playing AI catchup

A whole range of apps have been offering image expansion, or 'outpainting' as Midjourney calls it, for a while now – so it may look like Photoshop is a bit behind the curve here.

But with the launch of Firefly – Adobe's family of tools to take on Midjourney and Dall-E – the company has shown it's keen to tread carefully in the world of AI image generation. This is understandable given the emergence of class-action lawsuits against the likes of Midjourney from artists, who claim some models are based on copyrighted works.

Adobe has been keen to stress that Firefly-powered tools like Generative Expand and Fill have been trained on Adobe Stock images, openly-licensed content, or public domain content where the copyright has expired. 

This means that pros who uses the likes of Photoshop can use its generative AI tools without any concerns about copyright infringement, even if those tools are a bit slower to roll out than on some rivals.

Google is also happy with Adobe's more ethical approach to AI, with the search giant announcing back in May that it would be integrating Firefly image generation into its Bard chatbot. So far, that still hasn't rolled out, so we've asked Adobe for an update on when that will happen and will update this article when we hear back. 

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This AI-powered Photoshop rival is the end of photography as we know it

Photoshop has been steadily adding AI-powered tools to its menus in recent years, but an incredible new demo from an independent research team shows where the best photo editors are heading next.

DragGAN may not be a fully-fledged consumer product yet, but the research paper (picked up on Twitter by AI researchers @_akhaliq and @icreatelife) shows the kinds of reality-warping photo manipulation that's going to be possible very soon. This AI-powered tech will again challenge our definition of what a photo actually is.

While we've seen similar photo editing effects before – most notably in Photoshop tools like Perspective Warp – the DragGAN demo takes the idea and user interface to a new level. As the examples below show, DragGAN lets you precisely manipulate photos to change their subject's expressions, body positions and even minor details like reflections.

The results aren't always perfect, but they are impressive – and that's because DragGAN (whose name is a combination of 'drag' and 'generative adversarial network') actually generates new pixels based on the surrounding context and where you place the 'drag' points.

Photoshop's neural filters, particularly those available in the app's beta version, have dabbled in similar effects for a while, for example giving you sliders for 'happy' and 'anger' expressions for tweaking portrait images. DxO software like Photolab also has U Point technology that lets you point at the part of a photo that you'd like to make local adjustments on.

But the power of the DragGAN demo is that it combines both concepts in a pretty user-friendly way, letting you pick the part of a photo you want to change and then completely changing your subject's pose, expression and more with very realistic results. 

When a refined version of this technology ultimately lands on smartphones, imperfect photos will be a thing of the past – as will the idea of a photo being a record of a real moment captured in time.

DragGAN also offers more granular controls, too. If you don't want to change the entire photo, you can apply a mask to a particular area – for example, your dog's head – and the algorithm will only affect that selected area. That level of control should also help reduce artifacts and errors.

The research team has also promised that in the near future it plans “to extend point-based editing to 3D generative models.” Until then, expect to see this kind of reality-warping photo editing improve at a rapid pace in some of the best Photoshop alternatives soon. 

Analysis: The next Photoshop-style revolution

A woman sitting on a beach in an early version of Photoshop

An early demo of the first version of Photoshop, showing the iconic ‘Jennifer in Paradise’ photo being edited. (Image credit: Adobe)

These AI-powered photo editing tricks have echoes of the first early demos of Photoshop over 35 years ago – and will likely have the same level of impact, both culturally and on the democratization of photo editing.

In 1987, the co-creator of Adobe Photoshop John Knoll took the photo above – one of the most significant of the last century – on a Tahiti beach and used it to demo the incredible tools that would appear in the world's most famous photo editing app.

Now we're seeing some similarly momentous demos of image-manipulating tools, from Google's Magic Eraser and Face Unblur to Photoshop's new Remove Tool, which lets you remove unwanted objects in your snaps.

But this DragGAN demo, while only at the research paper phase, does take the whole concept of 'photo retouching' up a notch. It's reforming, rather than retouching, the contents of our photos, using the original expression or pose simply as a starting point for something completely different.

Photographers may argue that this is more digital art than 'drawing with light' (the phrase that gives photography its name). But just like the original Photoshop, these AI-powered tools will change photography as we know it – whether we want to embrace them or not. 

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This Photoshop alternative for Mac now lets you remove colors easily

The latest update to popular photo editor Pixelmator Pro gives macOS users another reason to avoid defaulting to Photoshop.

Codenamed Mosaic, version 3.3 of the photo editing app for Mac has introduced a raft of new features – with the Remove Color adjustment taking center-stage. The tool lets users strip out solid colors from images and videos just by selecting the color with an eyedropper tool. 

According to the developer, users can adjust how much of a selected color is taken out using three controls: Color Range, Luminance Range, and Intensity sliders. Showcasing its use in a YouTube demonstration, the developer detailed how creatives can use the latest addition to remove a green screen in videos.  

What’s new in Pixelmator Pro 3.3?  

Remove Color, which apparently deploys “a state-of-the-art texture-aware algorithm”, isn’t the only update to make its way into version 3.3. 

The Clarity, Selective Clarity, and Texture adjustments first made their way into the company's mobile photo editing app Pixelmator Photo, and now they are set to join the Photoshop alternative; while Shadows, Highlights, Exposure, and Brightness adjustments have also seen enhancements for creating more natural-looking edited images.  

For illustrators and artists, the drawing software sees a significant bump in stroke styles and options for customizing them. Sidecar file support has also been introduced: by attaching a Pixelmator Pro document to images, users can open, edit, and save images in the original file format, while saving any non-destructive edits and layers to Mac or iCloud.

“Images with sidecar edits look and behave just like regular images. For example, you can easily share such images online or open them in other apps without having to export them first,” the firm explained. 

Elsewhere, the graphic design software, which includes logo maker tools and a RAW image editor, received a new Pattern fill style and the ability to use shortcuts when applying LUTs, color adjustments, effects, and auto-color adjustments to videos. 

Pixelmator Pro 3.3 is free to all existing users. New users can download it from the App Store by clicking here

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