How To Resize an Image WITHOUT Stretching It in Photoshop

Have you ever wondered how to fill up a frame without maximizing out the pixels of an image that barely fits? In this tutorial, we’ll teach you how to resize an image without stretching it in Photoshop using ONE innovative tool!

The Problem with Regular Scaling

Before introducing to you the perfect way on how to resize an image without stretching it, here’s why simply using the transformation tool will do more harm than good to the quality of your image.

Working with the first image containing a car and transparency on the side, pressing Ctrl T (Windows) or Command T (macOS) to transform and scale, it will stretch out the pixels and causing the subject to look irregular, especially when working with portraits of people.

If you want to proceed with this, if it only affects the background and other unimportant areas, then Photoshop has the perfect tool for you. 

Content-Aware Scale

Press the Esc to exit the transformation mode.

Choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale; this command allows you to scale up the image while protecting important visual areas of the image (e.g. people, animals).

Use the transformation handles to scale the image, consuming the rest of the transparent side. You may notice how the mountain background looks flawless, but the same cannot be said about the car, which looks distorted.

In this case, press Esc key to exit the transformation mode. 

Protect Areas from Content-Aware Scale

With the car layer selected and unlocked, go to the Properties panel and scroll down to reveal the Quick Actions

Click the Select Subject button. This command is aided by Adobe Sensei, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that automatically detects the subject and creates a selection around it. 

In this step, the selection does not have to be perfect, and you can proceed with it by choosing Select > Save Selection.

On the Save Selection window, type your desired name for the selection. For this tutorial, set it to “Car” and press OK.

Then, press Ctrl D (Windows) or Command D (macOS) to deselect the selection.

Choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale.

On the Options bar, set the Protect to Car as set by the previous step.

When you start scaling the image up or down, you will notice how the car maintains its appearance without any applied distortion. 

With this, you can scale the image to consume the rest of the transparency, and the background will still look flawless while maintaining the original size and appearance of the car.

Back on the Options bar, the human icon stands for the Skintone Protection, which you can click to protect skin tones if you have people in your image.

Use the Content-Aware Scale to resize UI Elements

If you’re creating graphic design and you want to feature a screenshot of a UI element to a specific dimension so that it fits the area where you want to place it, here’s a technique that you can apply:

Open a document with screenshots of UI elements and a white rectangle layer to signify the specific dimensions where it should fit.

You may do it by deleting or erasing parts of the image and cramming the rest into that white space.

The smartest way to do it is to use the Content-Aware Scale without removing or adding parts of the image. 

Select the UI element layer and choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale.

Then, click-and-drag the UI element into the white space.

Use the transformation handles to fit it into space’s dimensions and notice how Photoshop keeps all the necessary pixels. 

Use the Content-Aware Scale with a Selection

With this technique, you can also work with a selection active. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the bottom pixels of the UI Elements.

Choose Edit > Content-Aware Scale.

Use the bottom transformation handle to click-and-drag it to the top.

Then, click on the checkmark found on the Options panel to commit to the changes. 

Then, press Ctrl D (Windows) or Command D (macOS) to deselect, and now, you have a piece that perfectly fits within the space. 

And that’s how you use the Content-Aware Scale in two different ways: how to resize an image without stretching it and how to resize UI elements without losing a pixel in the image!

If you enjoyed this tutorial, make sure to follow PTC on YouTube! And if you create something using this tutorial, share it on social media with the hashtag #PTCvids for a chance to get featured!

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Thank you! This article helps me a lot. Keep up the great work!