I have been testing Adobe’s Generative Fill in their new Photoshop Beta version. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that this technology would be achieved in my lifetime. It’s simply jaw-dropping.

The Pros:

There is nothing I can’t do or create effortlessly in Photoshop. Truly, my imagination is my only limit.

The Cons:

It doesn’t take long before my work doesn’t feel authentic. It requires little to no creative skill to drop in web-searched pieces and create images that are award-winning. It blends lighting and shadows beautifully. It’s not always perfect and some things still require your own artistic skill to fix some things but bottom line, I feel embarrassed claiming it’s my work.

The artist in me is absolutely loving this. The morality side of me is struggling with the authenticity of it. How do I justify this? On one hand, if you’re creating an image for a commercial account where you can achieve the style you’re after? Who cares? Right? 

But what about the artist’s authenticity? What about entering these in print competition? 40 years ago, unless you photographed something and got it in the camera, you didn’t have the ability to manipulate an image this much. Yes, there were airbrush artists but for the most part, it was still pretty true to what you photographed.

Here’s a before and after example of one of my images I tested using Generative Fill

Base image before Generative Fill
Image after Aobe Generative Fill

I started by expanding the panorama of the scene. I simply selected my image, inverted the selection and pulled the crop out using the cropping tool, and hit the generate button of the generative fill. I didn’t even describe anything! Then I created a box for the cowboy and described what I wanted. I had 3 variations in seconds. The same for the cows, the barn, the horse near the barn, the canyon butte, and the water trough.

I did other variations of the scene that amazed me, including rain and fog. It would require a little blending but to achieve this starting point so quickly? it’s incredible. Having previously toiled hours on images like this in the past, I can’t begin to describe the mixed emotions I have.

When Photoshop came along and we were able to do head switches and fix problem areas, and beyond, it was a game changer. Yes, you could change up your image (sometimes dramatically) but it still required knowledge of Photoshop and the skill to do it.

Now with Generative Fill? Draw a selection box, describe what you want in there and within a few seconds you have 3 image options to choose from. All of them blend beautifully in your image and have the right lighting and shadow to match your scene. 

So computer vs. creativity. Authenticity vs. automation. I’m conflicted. Impressed and amazed, but conflicted.

My solution? I contacted Adobe and asked if there could be an option to have Generative Fill search only from our own database of images. That way it’s still from the work you photographed. This would give me back some authenticity that is missing the way it currently is. 

What are your thoughts?    

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