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Hands-on with Photoshop Generative Fill: What is it and how does it work?

Photoshop’s Generative Fill might be the future of photo editing
By
January 6, 2024
photoshop generative fill on laptop
Calvin Wankhede / Android Authority

Have you ever wished you could change certain aspects of your photos, extend them to show more of the subject or convert a portrait shot into a landscape one? Until recently, all of those tasks were possible but they required advanced Photoshop skills. You’d also have to spend a few hours painstakingly working on each photo. But that’s no longer the case thanks to a new AI image editing feature dubbed Generative Fill present in all versions of Photoshop, including the iPad app!

Generative Fill uses the power of AI to replace objects, change backgrounds, and more. So without wasting any time, here’s a quick look at what the feature can do for your images and how to use it.

What is Photoshop Generative Fill?

Generative Fill is a new Photoshop AI feature that can create brand-new imagery based on a simple text-based prompt. And in some cases like when you want to extend an original image, you don’t even need to type in a prompt. Let’s see it in action.

For some context, I fed Photoshop with an image containing two bowls of ramen. However, it was a tightly cropped image with both bowls cut off at the sides. To fix it, I simply expanded the canvas size in Photoshop and used the rectangle tool to select the blank space. Then, I clicked the Generative Fill button and let the AI do its job. I think the results are quite impressive, even if it’s not quite perfect once you zoom in.

But as impressive as that may seem, it’s still only scratching the surface of what’s possible. Here’s a quick summary of everything you can do with Generative Fill in Photoshop:

  • Add objects: Is a field of grass too bland for your tastes? You can add in cattle, a meteor, or just about anything that you can imagine. Just select the rough area using the lasso tool, click the Generative Fill button, and type in “sheep grazing” or whatever you prefer. This is known as “inpainting” in most AI image generators.
  • Extend images: We’ve already seen an example of this one. Use the rectangular selection tool to select a portion of the image along with the blank area and hit the Generate button. You can leave the prompt blank if you want the AI to use its own judgment. Or you can type something like “white mountains in the background”. In the AI world, extending images beyond their original boundaries is sometimes referred to as “outpainting”.
  • Remove objects: Simply draw a rough outline using the lasso tool around any objects you wish to remove from the image, then click generate. For example, you can use this feature to eliminate other tourists that accidentally photobombed your vacation shots.
  • Replace backgrounds: From changing the weather to the color of the sky, AI can completely transform the look and feel of your photos. To do it, simply select the subject, then right-click and select “Inverse selection”. Finally, click the Generative Fill button and type in a description of your desired background.

Here are some side-by-side shots that show how well Generative Fill handles object removal. Are these perfect? No, but for just two clicks and a few seconds, the resulting shots are more than acceptable. Things will likely only improve further with future updates.

How does Generative Fill work?

If you’re already familiar with Photoshop, you might know about the Context-Aware Fill tool, which lets you remove unwanted objects like people and power lines in your photos. However, that feature relies on imprecise guesswork to fill in the background. Generative Fill, on the other hand, uses machine learning to achieve extremely convincing results.

Photoshop’s Generative Fill is powered by Adobe Firefly, a group of machine learning models that were trained on millions of the company’s own stock images and other public domain content. In other words, you don’t have to worry about AI using someone’s copyrighted material in your photos. But you’ll still have to wait as Adobe isn’t giving away commercial rights to its AI generations just yet.

Generative Fill uses Adobe's Firefly machine learning models under the hood.

Adobe Firefly isn’t the only AI image generator out there, but it’s definitely one of the more convenient options now that it’s been integrated into Photoshop. Some like Midjourney support inpainting and outpainting but cost a hefty subscription amount each month. If you already pay for Photoshop, you get a set of monthly credits for free with the option to buy more if you run out.

Given the hardware-intensive nature of AI image generation, don’t be surprised if each Generative Fill operation in Photoshop takes half a minute or longer. Clicking on the Generate button sends your image and text prompt to Adobe’s server for processing. It then returns a set of three results at a time. You can click the Generate button again if you want even more choices.

How to use Photoshop Generative Fill

If you don’t see the Generative Fill button in your Photoshop installation, you may have to update to the latest version. The feature launched alongside Photoshop version 25 in September 2023. You’ll also need an active Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, single-app will do.

Here’s how to use Generative Fill in Photoshop on desktop:

  1. Open the image you wish to manipulate in Photoshop.
  2. Using a selection tool like the lasso or rectangle tool, select the area of the image you’d like to manipulate.
  3. Click on the Generative Fill button and agree to the terms and conditions presented.
  4. Type in a text prompt or leave it blank. Click Generate to see the results. You’ll get a few different results to choose from in the right-hand pane.

You can also use Generative Fill in the Photoshop app for iPad and Photoshop on the Web. However, keep in mind that you’ll need an internet connection as the AI processing takes place in the cloud.

Is Photoshop’s Generative Fill free?

Yes, Photoshop’s Generative Fill feature is free as long as you have an active Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. However, you will receive a limited amount of generative credits each month. Each use of the feature will cost one generative credit, but you can buy more as needed. Here’s a table that breaks down how many credits you will receive each month with the most popular plans.

Creative Cloud PlanPrice per monthMonthly generative credits
Creative Cloud Plan
All apps
Price per month
$59.99
Monthly generative credits
1000
Creative Cloud Plan
Single app
Price per month
$22.99
Monthly generative credits
500
Creative Cloud Plan
Photography 20GB
Price per month
$9.99
Monthly generative credits
250 (old subscribers), 100 (new subscribers)
Creative Cloud Plan
Single app (Lightroom)
Price per month
$9.99
Monthly generative credits
100

For plans not listed in the table above, such as enterprise or student subscriptions, check out Adobe’s help page to find out how many credits you will receive each month.


FAQs

To use Generative Fill in Adobe Photoshop, you’ll need to select a portion of your image. Then, should see a toolbar with the Generative Fill button pop up. Simply enter your prompt and hit Generate.

If the Generative Fill feature doesn’t show up in your Photoshop app, update to the latest version and try again. Next, check if you have the Contextual Tool Bar enabled under the Window menu. Finally, ensure you have used a selection tool to mark an area of your image.

Generative Fill is included as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription, so all Photoshop users have access to it. However, you only get a limited number of credits each month depending on the price of your plan.