Photoshop guru Russell Brown has posted a video demonstrating the power of Photoshop CS4′s “content aware scaling,” which is difficult to describe, but fairly mind-blowing once you’ve seen it in action (video link).
In a nutshell, content aware scaling enables you to resize an image on single axis without distorting any of the primary content. It works by analyzing your image and figuring out what is important and what isn’t. Generally speaking, that means that foreground subjects are left alone and backgrounds are resized independently, though the exact behavior will depend on the image you’re working with.
But squeezing backgrounds isn’t the only thing content aware scaling can handle, you can also use the “protect” feature to manually control which parts of your image are preserved and which are resized. In the video Brown walks you through how to use an alpha channel mask to selectively resize parts of your image.
Of course to get your own hands dirty with content aware scaling, you’ll have to wait until Photoshop CS4 is available later this month. In the mean time, you can drool over the possibilities highlighted in Brown’s demo.
And note that yes, Brown is, well, a bit eccentric shall we say, but he knows Photoshop better than most. If the nerd version of the monster truck rally voiceover makes you cringe, just hit mute and watch the video — content aware scaling speaks for itself.