How To Use Generative Fill AI in Photoshop

May 29, 2023

Tory Barber

Before After image of an photoshop ai edited image

Welp, the time has finally come.

Some have been dreading it, others have been waiting on the edge of their seat.

No matter your opinion, it happened:

Adobe has added generative AI directly in some of its products.

the graphic design community right now:

The time for designers to ignore AI has officially passed.

AI is terrifying, it’s exciting, and it’s inevitable.

So let’s put on our big girl pants and get into it!

On Wednesday, September 13th, Adobe released its Photoshop Generative Fill feature for Commercial use.

You can simply make a selection, and enter a prompt to create just about anything you can imagine directly in Photoshop!

Generative Fill has some limitations (as all AIs do), but largely it’s pretty revolutionary in what it can do!

I’ve found it’s really effective at:

  • Removing unwanted objects
  • Adding new objects (within limitations)
  • Extending a photo
  • Change the background of a photo

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How to Add Generative Fill to Photoshop

As of Adobe’s big September 15th announcement, Generative Fill is now available in the main Photoshop app.

Not only does that mean no more beta apps, but this also means Generative Fill can be used for commercial products!

Not seeing the floating taskbar that holds the Generative Fill tools? Your Photoshop just might be out of date.

You need Photoshop v25.0 or higher to use Generative Fill.

Quick shameless plug  🙂

If you’re considering purchasing Photoshop in order to test this out, feel free to use this link to do so. Full disclosure, this is an affiliate link and I’ll get a small kick-back for your purchase that I can use to help grow this website.

How to Use Generative Fill in Photoshop

Once you open the new version of Photoshop, one of the first things you may notice is Adobe’s new Contextual Task Bar.

This floating toolbar provides options based on what tool you have selected. At its default state the Contextual Task Bar offers you the ability to quickly select the subject or remove the background.

    contextual tool bar default

    However, when you make a selection using the Lasso or Marqee tools, a new button appears allowing you to use the Generative Fill feature.

      Showing Generative Fill button

      The Generative Fill button only appears when you have something selected, so don’t panic if you don’t see it on the tool bar right away.

      Once you click Generative Fill, a textbox will appear where you can enter a prompt. A prompt is not required, however, and you can let the AI do its magic without direction by leaving the area blank.

        Showing Generative Fill prompt

        Once you’ve entered your prompt (or left it blank), simply press “Generate”.

        The diffusion process (the technology behind generative AI) occurs on the cloud; so when you press “Generate” you’ll see a loading bar appear as Photoshop sends your prompt to the cloud, the cloud generates options, and then the cloud sends the options back to your Photoshop.

          generative fill load

          Once the prompt completes its generation, you’ll receive 3 different options to select from.

          You can click through and view these images by using the arrows on the Contextual Task Bar or by clicking through the thumbnails that have appeared in the properties panel.

            generative fill options

            You can keep generating images by either reusing your original prompt or by slightly tweaking the prompt to narrow in on the image you’d like created.

            All the variations you generate will be stored in the “Variations” section of the “Properties” panel

            Each of the variations are generated on a single new layer on top of the original photo.

            This means that Generative Fill is non-destructive.

              screenshot showing the generated layer

              You can turn off the visibility of this newly generated layer and view the original photo underneath. Similarly, you can click back on the generated layer and have access to all your generated options.

              As you can imagine, keeping all the variations you generate can start to really take up a lot of space and can send your file size through the roof!

              And, let’s be honest, some of the generated options… well some of the options suck! There’s no need to keep these variations.

              To delete unwanted options, simply click the three dots that appear when you hover over the variation, then click delete from the resulting menu.

                Photoshop generative fill variation sub menu

                This menu also gives you the opportunity to give the AI feedback.

                You can give it a thumbs up when it’s created exactly what you are looking for, or a thumbs down when it generates less-than-desirable results.

                Importantly, you can also report images that show off lude or offensive subject matter.

                Providing this feedback will only improve the AI.

                  How to Access Generative Fill Without the Contextual Task Bar

                  If you don’t love the experience of using the new floating taskbar, don’t worry, the Photoshop team provides an alternative way to access the Generative Fill feature.

                  Ensure you have the area you’d like replaced selected, then simply navigate to Edit > Generative Fill.

                  Type your prompt into the text box pop-up, then press generate. From here you should be able to control everything in the properties panel.

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                    Prompting Best Practices in Photoshop

                    For the purposes of this article, we won’t be diving too deep into the subtle science and exact art of potion-making prompting. I have a full article diving into the Prompting Tips & Tricks of Firefly (the AI behind Generative Fill) that you can read should you want more information.

                    There are two things I’d keep in mind when prompting in Photoshop:

                    • Don’t be afraid to leave it blank
                    • Accept that there’s gonna be some weird results (generative AI is still a new technology)

                    Don’t be Afraid to Leave the Prompt Blank

                    One of the things the Generative Fill AI is really good at right now is a blank prompt.

                    If you leave the prompt empty, the AI takes a look at the rest of the photo and assumes you want it to either:

                    • remove what’s selected,
                    • or to generate different options of the selected subject.

                    So instead of trying to describe to Photoshop that I’d like this dancing idiot removed from this photo.

                    generative fill photoshop empty prompt screenshot

                    I can simply select the idiot, press generative fill from the Contextual Task Bar, and then press generate with an empty prompt.

                    And just like that, the idiots been removed!

                    people on a retro gondala

                    Accept There Will be Weird Results

                    The generative AI industry is moving SO FAST nowadays, it can be easy to forget just how new all this technology is!

                    You don’t get perfect results every time like it is made to look in Tik Tok and YouTube.

                    Coaxing the image you want out of any AI Generator right now takes time and a lot of prompt tweaking. Adobe’s new AI Photoshop feature is no exception to that.

                    The more patient and iterative you approach Generative Fill, the more successful you’ll be.

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                    How to Remove an Object in Photoshop with AI

                    In my opinion, removing an object is the thing Generative Fill does the most seamlessly right now.

                      1. Simply select the thing you want to remove & Press Generative Fill

                        2. Press generate without entering a prompt

                          no prompt generation photoshop

                          And Viola!

                            photo of a cafe after ai generative fill

                            YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO ENTER A PROMPT! 

                            What an AMAZING feature for creatives! Think of the possibilities!

                            Imagine, you’ve snapped the perfect photo of your client, buuut… you totally didn’t see those reeds in front of him through your lens.

                              man standing in a field

                              Boom! Removed!

                                man smiling in field

                                Have you ever found the perfect hero image… iiif it wasn’t for all those people that is.

                                  people crossing at a busy street

                                  AI says “what people?”

                                    woman crossing the street with an umbrella

                                    Remember that cute picture of you on those swings in Cabo? If only it didn’t also have your ex David in it…

                                      couple on a swing

                                      David who?

                                        woman alone on two swings

                                        How to Add an Object

                                        Similarly to removing an object, you can add an object by selecting the area you’d like the thing to be placed and then pressing Generative Fill in the Contextual Task Bar.

                                        However, instead of leaving the prompt empty, enter a description of what you want to be generated.

                                        Prompt to add a cat to a photo

                                        See how the added object tries to mimic the light and the orientation of the original photo?

                                        Blows. My. MIND!

                                        ai generated cat sits on road

                                        While this feature can be mind-boggling, I find it’s the thing the AI struggles most with.

                                        Try generating a person in any respectable resolution and you’ll see what I mean.

                                        Ai generated woman in photoshop

                                        [Shivvers] Nightmare fule.

                                        I’ve found that Generative Fill tends to fail at generating things that can’t be directly referenced in the original photo.

                                        Extending a photo, removing objects, and even changing a background all use the existing image for context. Adding an object, on the other hand, requires the AI to extend itself past what is already known.

                                        Firefly, Generative Fill’s online counterpart, is actually already pretty good at imagination. So we know Adobe has the technology to improve Generative Fill’s creativity.

                                        It is only a matter of time before this feature improves.

                                        How to Extend a Photo

                                        I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found the perfect hero image buuuut there isn’t quite enough copy room.

                                        Previously my options were: try to hack it together myself manually, cross my fingers and hope Content Aware Fill actually works this time, or continue my endless doom scroll through Adobe Stock just hoping beyond hope I find something else.

                                        With Generative Fill, this issue disappears! You can now extend a photo in seconds!

                                        Simply start by extending the canvas using the crop tool.

                                        Extending image with crop tool photoshop

                                        Next, select the extended area using the marquee tool.

                                        Make sure the selection overlaps with the existing photo.

                                        This is important.

                                        It ensures there is a seamless transition between the original photo and the AI-generated section.

                                        Press Generative Fill in the floating taskbar and enter a prompt.

                                        prompting extended area photoshop

                                        Then, of course, select the variation that best fits your intention!

                                        image resulting from generative fill extending image

                                        How to Change the Background

                                        Love the subject, but would like a more interesting background? Simply press”select subject” in the taskbar, then press command + shift + i to select the background.

                                        background selected Photoshop beta

                                        Next, press Generative Fill and enter your prompt!

                                        Voila! Endless amount of Backgrounds only limited by your imagination!

                                        woman leaning on Ocean pier

                                        Prompt: wooden rail of a ocean pier, over looking a foggy ocean

                                        woman at the bar

                                        Prompt: leaning on the bar table, people blurred out in the background

                                        woman leaning on a car

                                        Prompt: leaning on a car, on a city street at night

                                        leaning on a counter

                                        Prompt: Leaning on a 50s dinner bar

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                                        About Me

                                        Hi I’m Tory!I’m a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and AI OBSESSED artist from good ol’ Canada, eh!I record all the things I learn as I dive deeper into the Generative AI rabbit hole so I can teach people like you!

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