Photoshop Tutorial : How to Stretch the Canvas

Before bothering to watch this tutorial, please note that content aware scale is a feature that was introduced as of photoshop CS4.  If you don’t have cs4 or higher, maybe watch anyway because it may influence your decision to upgrade! Particularly now that CS5 is out, prices on CS4 have dropped a bit so it may be a good time :)  You may also want to watch because I preview the much hyped “content aware fill” feature of CS5!

I realized after recording this that I left a couple of important things out.. you can not use content aware scale on an image that is your locked background layer. You have to have the image you are trying to stretch be a layer on TOP of your background layer.  The easiest way to achieve this is if you create a PSD file that is the size that you want to stretch the canvas to and then copy or duplicate the image into that document as a separate layer. Then you are good to go to scale that image to the size of your canvas!

Otherwise if you are just starting from your image as a jpg or RAW file you can go to canvas size and make your canvas larger. Then, go to your background layer and use the marquis tool to select the original size of your image (i.e. leaving off the white or black fill that is now around it) and then copy and paste that into a new photoshop layer before you scale it.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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Mama monkey says:

Hi, I know you just had twins not that long ago and that this tutorial is almost 3 years old, but I’m trying to stretch my canvas with a wooden floor background. Everything I’ve tried makes the floor looked stretched! Here are the steps I am using…what am I doing wrong?

My image is RAW.
Open in CS5
make my canvas the size I want using the rectangular marquee tool (keeping the aspect ratios protected)
select the original image without the now empty border around it and hit ctrl j to make it it’s own layer
select what I would like to preserve with the rectangular marquee tool and feather my selection slightly
go into channels and hit the layer mask button to make an alpha channel
deselect my selection
go to edit content aware scale. Make sure the little guy is selected and select the alpha channel from the drop down menu
go ahead and pull the handles to fill in the blank area of my canvas

When I do this it still looks stretched!!!


Thanks!!! :)

Victoria says:

Thank you so much for this. I came across this a while back and today I put it to use, although I had to do some cloning too. Do you find you’re having to extend the canvas or zoom out less with the mark5DII than with a non-full sensor camera you had previously? That may seem like a dumb question but has that been a huge advantage in having the full sensor? Just curious. Thanks for all your tutorials!

Karen says:

Another great tutorial! Thank you!!!!

Samm says:

Awesome tool! I’m using CS2 so had never seen this. I use the clone tool to fill out the edges if I want to widen the image. Much more time consuming than the method used here. Maybe its time to upgrade…Thanks!