How To Easily Set Up & Use Photoshop’s Generative Fill

AI technology is revolutionizing tons of industries, the photography industry is no different. Adobe recently released Photoshop’s Generative Fill feature giving photographers the power to easily edit and enhance their photos.

To Set up Generative Fill open the Creative Cloud application, navigate to the “Apps” page, then the “Beta apps” tab. Finally, click “Install” next to “Photoshop (Beta)”. Enabled by default, Generative Fill allows you to make an area selection, click ‘Generative Fill,’ and then type in a request.

Keep reading as I explain what Generative Fill is, how to install it, how to use it, and what its limitations are.

What Is Generative Fill in Adobe Photoshop?

In Adobe Photoshop, Generative Fill is a tool that uses Generative AI to create, add to, remove, or replace images according to the user’s request.

In Photoshop, the user types in a request and Generative Fill uses AI to fulfill said request. This process is non-destructive, meaning it doesn’t change the original image. It adds a new layer, which you can remove, on top of the original image.

After generating options, the Generative Fill tool provides users with three variations to choose between. If the user doesn’t like any of these variations, he/she can use Generative Fill again to receive three additional options while retaining the original three to choose from.

Can I Use Photoshop’s Generative Fill Commercially?

Editor’s Note: Adobe Photoshop’s Generative Fill is completely safe to use commercially. As a creative, you can safely employ Generative Fill for work you intend to sell or distribute commercially (source).

Currently, you cannot use Photoshop’s Generative Fill commercially since it is still in beta testing. Thus, users cannot employ Generative Fill for any work that they sell or distribute commercially.

Generative Fill, along with all of the Adobe Firefly Generative family, is designed to be safe for commercial use, as stated by Adobe. Adobe Firefly, Adobe’s family of generative AI models, pulls from Adobe stock, content with open licenses, and public-domain content.

“Content generated by Adobe Firefly in the Photoshop (beta) app is not permitted for commercial use. Commercial use will be permitted for content generated when Generative Fill is out of beta, which is expected later this year.”


The only caveat to this is that Generative Fill cannot be used commercially since it is still in beta (testing phase). There is no further explanation on Adobe’s website but I guess that they are fine-tuning Generative Fill’s content selection, ensuring the tool only uses commercial-friendly content.

How Do I Use Generative Fill In Adobe Photoshop?

Let me guide you through my editing process using Photoshop’s Generative Fill for a photo I captured of the Fujifilm X-T3 and VG-XT3 battery grip. I used this photo for an article reviewing the Fujifilm X-T3 battery grip that I recently posted.

Before I get into the steps of how I edited this photo, I’ll show you the RAW photo (converted to JPG, of course) and the final product so you can see how stark of a difference it is.

If the term “RAW photo” is new to you, check out my article explaining exactly what a RAW file is.

Left ImageRight Image

As you can see, I did a lot of work using Generative Fill. I took the original photo using a flash which is why you can see reflections all over. As for where I took the photo, I used an Ikea shelf for the bottom and sides, and a plastic photo board for the background.

1. Open Lightroom and Edit the photo to Your Liking

Lightroom edit page

The first step is to edit your photo using whichever application you would like. In this tutorial, I’ll show how to send your photos from Lightroom to Photoshop and back to Lightroom.

If you use another program like; Luminar NEO, Capture One, or anything else, simply open Photoshop, press “Open” then select the photo you would like to edit. Once you do this, skip to step 3.

You can make adjustments in Lightroom after editing in Photoshop, but I recommend locking in at least your exposure and colours before using Generative Fill.

For this photo, along with exposure and colours, I adjusted my crop and lens correction before sending it to Photoshop. Following my adjustments in Photoshop, I sent the photo back to Lightroom for exporting to Exposure X7, where I applied sharpening and grain to the image.

Are you interested in how I edit my photos? Check out my article outlining my step-by-step photography editing process.

2. Send Your Photo To Adobe Photoshop

Lightroom send to Adobe Photoshop button

After editing your photo in Lightroom, you now want to send it to Photoshop for Generative Fill. To do this, right-click on your photo in the photo strip at the bottom of the window. Then, go to “Edit In” > “Edit in Adobe Photoshop (Beta)…” as pictured above.

This will then link the photo you are editing in Photoshop to its counterpart in Lightroom. This means that any adjustments you make in Photoshop will show up in Lightroom. When you are ready to export, you can go back to Lightroom where the photo is updated with your changes from Photoshop.

Whenever I send photos to another application for editing, I make sure to select “Edit A Virtual Copy” so I don’t change the original image.

3. Select What You Would Like To Change

Adobe Photoshop selection

After sending your photo to Photoshop from Lightroom or opening your existing photo from the Photoshop home page, a screen similar to this will appear (displaying your selected photo, of course).

You now have a basic Photoshop file containing only a background layer. From here you can use any tool you’d like to make a selection based on what you would like to edit. I used a mixture of the Marquee tools, the Lasso tool, the Magic Wand tool, and the Object Selection tool in this tutorial.

Note that, because Generative Fill is non-destructive (it creates new layers on top of your background), I don’t usually duplicate my background layer, though if you intend on making any edits beyond Generative Fill I recommend you do.

I started by editing out the sides of the image. As I mentioned before, I took this photo using what I had available, without a studio setup. Accordingly, you can see clear shadows and even a black cable in the original image.

4. Click “Generative Fill” & Type Your Instructions

Generative fill button
Generative Fill instructions

After making your selection, you’ll see this window pop up. Once you select “Generative Fill” you’ll get this second window. Here, you can either describe what you would like Photoshop to do, or leave it blank.

In my case, I left it blank to let Photoshop know that I am not wanting to add anything specific. Photoshop then did a really good job identifying what I wanted and making it happen.

Photoshop Generative Fill results

You’ll notice on the right side of the screen there is a dropdown menu called “Variations”. Here, you can select from three different options based on what you think looks best. If you don’t like any of the options, you can simply press the “Generate” button right above the “Variations” menu.

5. Repeat This Process

Photoshop Generative Fill final results

Repeat this process to your liking, adding, removing, and changing anything you’d like.

In my case, I fixed both the left and right sides of the image, making it consistent with the background behind the camera. I then fixed the cracked screen protector on my camera using Generative Fill. I also removed the distracting reflection of my camera’s flash at the top centre of my image. Finally, I fixed the dirty camera screen using Generative Fill.

6. Save or Export Your Photo

Whether you export or save your image depends on how you opened your image, to begin with. If you transferred your image from Lightroom, you only need to save your image.

Mac: ⌘Cmd + S

PC: Ctrl + S

Keyboard Shortcuts To Save Your Image

After saving, you can go back to Lightroom to see your changes updated. From there you can export as you normally would or continue making adjustments. If you chose to edit a virtual copy before sending it to Photoshop, you’ll notice a photo stack has now been made with the original and new photos grouped together.

If you opened your original photo in Photoshop instead of sending it from Lightroom, you can simply export your file as you normally would.

Mac: ⌥Option + ⇧Shift + ⌘Command + W

PC: Alt + Shift + Ctrl + W

Keyboard Shortcuts To Export Your Photoshop File

That’s it, that’s all you need to do to use Generative Fill! As you can see, it’s a pretty powerful tool that can be used for even more than simply making corrections for product photography. Try it out for yourself, try pushing it to its limits by adding, changing, and removing different things from your photos.

Do I Need Internet To Use Generative Fill?

Adobe’s Generative Fill feature is part of the Adobe Firefly generative AI family. These generative AI models use Adobe Stock, open licence, and public domain content to fulfil user requests. These models need an internet connection to draw from these sources.

You can edit in Photoshop with no internet connection before using Generative Fill, then connect to the internet to use the feature. Additionally, you have the option to use Generative Fill on your image and then continue with offline editing. Photoshop only needs an internet connection during the process of using Generative Fill, allowing you to continue editing your file offline afterward.

To use Generative Fill offline, Adobe would need to download the entirety of Adobe Stock’s collection as well as keep an updated copy of their open license and public domain content locally on your computer. This is far from possible on any consumer computer. The concept of having your computer wired to a massive server is both impractical and highly inefficient.

What Are The Limits of Photoshop’s Generative Fill?

Photoshop’s Generative Fill is an incredibly advanced tool but, with the current state of generative AI models, there are bound to be issues with it.

One of the first issues with Generative Fill is that it doesn’t understand some prompts. Even something as simple as “add a blue car” gave me trouble while I was messing around in Photoshop. The only way to solve this was to keep trying to switch my selection area and re-generating.

Another issue is that it can produce low-resolution fill images. This depends on the sizes of your photo and selection area. If you are getting blurry or low-res Generative Fills, try using a smaller selection area and see if that fixes the issue.

Depending on your prompt and the source image being added, the lighting can become inconsistent rapidly. After adding a watch to a portrait photo to test Photoshop, I saw that the light source ended up on the left side of the watch, whereas the original image was lit from the right. This led to a mismatch in lighting and appearance.

This is, of course, because of the image Generative Fill selected to add the watch as I requested. My only option was to keep cycling through variations until one looked right.

In this same image, I tried adding a tattoo to see how well Generative Fill blended skin tones. At first, I got a completely wrong skin tone, but after one re-generation, it was completely fixed.

When working on facial features, Generative Fill replaces them instead of “fixing” them. If you are trying to fix someone blinking, for instance, Generative Fill would try to find a photo with a similar eye to your subject and overlay that onto your image.

The final issue with Generative Fill, and Generative AI models in general, is that they need to be heavily monitored for safety and offensive content. At the start of this article, I mentioned that you need to be 18+ to use Generative Fill, that’s because AI models aren’t human; they don’t know right from wrong.

Though there are safety measures in place such as flagging systems on text prompts and images used to fill, they aren’t perfect meaning AI can sometimes insert inappropriate images either at the user’s request or baselessly.

On the flip side of this, some users state Generative Fill blocks their request despite their content being completely appropriate. This is a problem that can only be solved by waiting for AI technology and safety features to continue to advance.

This point lends itself to the discussion about the morals of photo manipulation. I wrote an article that goes into more depth surrounding the ethics of Photoshop.

Jeremy Goh

Jeremy grew up volunteering at church and has also worked in a church setting. Along with working as a freelance creative, Jeremy is studying for a business degree in finance and international business.

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