Adobe Photoshop Generative Expand extends your borders easily

Adobe Photoshop Generative Expand extends your borders easily

Adobe Photoshop beta received a nice update, Generative Expand. This allows you to expand images magically and easily with one click. Here’s how it works.

Night photo, Nelson ghost town Nevada. This is the original photo before using Generative Expand.

Example one: Strange VW camper

For the first example, I will use a night photo of a bizarre VW camper made of a van and bug kludged together. What I want to do here is make this into a square ratio without cropping any of my existing photo using Generative Expand. The latest update to Photoshop beta (v. 25) makes this much easier to do, adding this in a nondestructive layer.

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Crop Tool

Select the Crop Tool, and then select a 1:1 (square) ratio. You can see that the Crop Tool has cut off the top and bottom equally. I don’t want it to do that. Fortunately, we can change that easily!

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Expand the Crop Tool

Pull on the top and bottom handles to expand the crop area. You are expanding the canvas, which now shows up in white on the left and right sides. Because you’ve selected the 1:1 ratio, your crop area remains a square.

Select “Generative Expand” in the prompt below, which also shows the 1:1 (Square) ratio.

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Generate the image

Leave the field blank. If you wanted something specific, you would write what you wanted in the field. We will do this in our next example, but for now, we will leave the field blank.

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Enjoy the expanded view

Looks good, doesn’t it?

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Choices, you have choices!

If you didn’t like the first selection, you could choose from a second or third variation. And if you did not like any of those, you could generate some new possibilities.

Expanding the borders of your image could be useful for a variety of reasons. You might need to change the existing aspect ratio to specific requirements without cropping your photo in an undesirable manner. Examples of this might include creating a flyer, newsletter or advertisement as well as posting to a social media platform that has specific aspect ratio requirements. I also use it to expand the borders for printing on canvas wraps. 

Example two: Wooden church in the mountains

For the second example, I will use this night photo of a beautiful wooden church at 7400 feet in the mountains of Nevada (I wrote about how I lit the church at night here). This time, we’ll create a new “fantasy image” that might alarm the town’s residents if they saw the ocean rising to this alarming level. Who knows, though, perhaps the church might enjoy having beachfront property in this landlocked locale. Here’s how I easily made this happen.

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Crop Tool

Light painting the wooden church, Nye County, NV, 7400 feet in elevation.
Light painting the wooden church, Nye County, NV, 7400 feet in elevation. This is the original photo. Note that there is no ocean!

I used the Crop Tool to extend the right side while also using it to crop a little bit of the left side. This is how we did this with the first example as well. If I wanted, I could also extend the bottom or the top of the image as well. 

And like last time, I will select “Generative Expand.” However, this time, instead of leaving the Generative Expand field blank, I will type in “An ocean with big waves.”

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The ocean is much higher than before!

Generative Expand has not only created three variations of the ocean, but it has also matched the general color scheme and mood of the photo when creating this fantasy image. Now the churchgoers will need to keep the doors closed if they don’t want ocean spray during their sermons.

Other thoughts about Generative Expand

Adobe has clearly paid attention to how many of us were using Generative Fill, and it shows. Many of us were using it to expand the borders. I even wrote an article about expanding the borders because Generative Fill is so useful. 

I personally have little interest in creating “fantasy images” such as an ocean in a mountain area or other images that could not exist for my night photography. To me, the joy and creativity are in creating an image that is very much real, something that was really there.

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Above: Surf’s up at 7400 feet in elevation in Nevada!

But I also like to have fun. I could foresee creating “fantasy images” for humorous purposes, or perhaps to create a point for an article or newsletter. Although I certainly have some red lights going off about where AI takes us in the future, I also recognize that I can utilize AI to help expand the borders for canvas wrap prints or other needs as I describe above.

Uses for Generative Expand

For now, here are just a few of the things that we can use Generative Expand I can think of right now. All of these can be done with or without a prompt:

  • Prevent the borders from being excessively cropped while fixing perspective (keystoning of buildings, for example) 
  • Rotate your photo and fill the extended areas.
  • Extend images with or without a prompt.
  • Extend the aspect ratio to match social media posts or newsletter or magazine requirements.
  • Crop while expanding
  • Continually expand to ridiculous levels

What are some ideas you have for using Generative Expand? Let us know in the comments!