Photoshop's New AI Tool Lets You Expand Images With New Scenery

Adobe, like Microsoft and Google, sees AI today best used to help humans, not replace them.

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In May, Adobe began beta testing a new tool to let Photoshop customers fill in parts of an image with AI-generated imagery. Now another tool called "generative expand" is joining that earlier generative fill feature, Adobe said Thursday.

Generative expand lets you use Photoshop's image-cropping tool to add new imagery beyond the borders of an image's original size. As with generative fill, Photoshop generates imagery based on a text prompt like "forest" or, if you don't type anything, just makes its best guess based on what's already in the image.

The tool can be used to add new scenery, widen a portrait photo or add a fanciful context to a real-world photo. As with all generative AI for now, it can produce results you don't like, which is why advocates like Google, Microsoft and Adobe position AI as an assistant for humans, not a replacement.

Photoshop is at the heart of many creative professionals' work, and the addition of generative AI is a profound change. Adobe is trying to be careful with its embrace, vetting the data it uses to train its AI and steering clear of fraught areas like recognizable people or trademarked products. But those guardrails place it at a disadvantage compared with more permissive generative AI tools like Midjourney. Figuring out how to balance the benefits of AI without being harmed by its downsides is one of the prime difficulties of the technology.

Photoshop's previous generative fill tool let people expand images, but it required more steps. The generative expand feature is built straight into the crop tool operation, prompting Photoshop users with the option right as they expand the canvas.

Also on Thursday, Adobe said generative fill had been used more than 900 million times in its few weeks of beta testing so far. The company hasn't yet revealed how subscribers will ultimately pay for the tool, which is set to exit beta testing later this year.

Adobe also made the AI tool, part of its Firefly family of generative tools, available to vastly more people by supporting text prompts in more than 100 languages.

Editors' note: CNET is using an AI engine to help create some stories. For more, see this post.