Machine learning has been one of the most exciting things to happen in the world of digital imagery since the first digital camera sensor was invented.
It has unleashed a range of impressive editing tools, including content-aware fill, which automatically generates new image data based on the other parts of your existing image.
While very basic versions of this idea have been around for a while, new advances in machine learning algorithms have dramatically improved the quality of the results, so much so that they can actually be seamlessly incorporated into photographs.
Of course, they’re far from perfect when it comes to complex scenes and patterns, but the technology itself is also improving rapidly.
So what does all this mean for GIMP? Unfortunately, GIMP does not have a content-aware fill tool, but it is possible to add the feature using a third-party plugin. Read on for instructions on how to install and use content-aware fill in GIMP!
Adding Content-Aware Fill to GIMP with a Plugin
The best (and maybe only) plugin available for adding content-aware fill to GIMP is Resynthesizer. It offers a range of different content-aware fill options, although it doesn’t actually use that terminology.
While GIMP’s ability to use plugins is extremely helpful, the plugin developers aren’t always focused on making things easy for the user – and Resynthesizer is a perfect example.
We shouldn’t grumble too much, though, because the plugin is completely free, and all the contributing developers donated their time and skill to the project.
The steps for installing the plugin are far more complex than actually using it, but if you’re comfortable copying and pasting files into different folders, you should be able to complete the process without any problems.
Keep in mind that both GIMP 2.10 and Resynthesizer are both starting to show their age a bit when compared to more actively-maintained software like Photoshop, but they can still do a decent editing job if you take your time.
Installing the Resynthesizer Plugin for GIMP
Note: these instructions are for Windows users, but macOS and Linux users can find additional instructions on the GitHub page linked below.
To get started, download the Resynthesizer plugin from the official GitHub page. Unless you’re willing and able to compile the plugin code yourself, you’ll have to click through a few links to find an older copy of the plugin.
While it’s unlikely that there will be a new update to the software, I’ve decided to link to the main GitHub page instead of linking to the files directly, just in case something changes.
Scroll down to find the Installation section, and click the Install Resynthesizer for Windows link.
This should take you to the installation instructions provided by the developers, although they’re a bit technical for non-developers.
As I mentioned earlier, the devs guide us to an old archive of the Resynthesizer plugin, as shown below.
At long last, we can finally download the file! Click the Download button to save the ZIP file containing the plugin.
Once you’ve got the ZIP file downloaded, the next step is to extract the files into GIMP’s plugin directory.
The simplest way to find your GIMP plugin directory is through the Preferences dialog. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences.
In the left pane of the Preferences window, \find the section labeled Folders and click on the name to expand it.
Select the Plug-ins subfolder, and GIMP will display all the folders that it checks for plugin files. Select the entry in the Users folder (typically the first entry in the list), and then click the small file cabinet icon in the right corner (as shown below).
This will open a new File Explorer window displaying the plugins folder.
Return to the plugin ZIP file you downloaded, and extract the files into the plugin folder that you just located with GIMP.
That’s all there is to it! The next time you load GIMP, Resynthesizer will be loaded as well. You may notice a slight increase in GIMP’s load time as it interprets and loads the new plugin for the first time, but this should only be a one-time event.
Using Resynthesizer for Content-Aware Fill in GIMP
Once you’ve completed the installation process, things get a bit easier – but only a bit. Resynthesizer integrates its tools into the standard GIMP Filters menu, but it doesn’t actually identify which filters are part of the plugin.
You can find a list of the various tools in the Readme-Windows.txt file that came in the plugin’s zip file, but most users who want the basic content-aware fill feature can follow along below.
First, make a selection around the area of the image you want to fill using any of GIMP’s selection tools.
In the glorious example below of a baroque oil portrait of a mythical jackalope, the AI model that generated the image seems to have included a levitating gold coin or pendant.
Since everyone knows that jackalopes don’t have telekinetic powers (lol), I want to remove it using Resynthesizer.
After creating a selection, open the Filters menu, select the Enhance submenu, and click Heal Selection.
As you can see, the result isn’t exactly perfect – but even Photoshop’s content-aware fill tools sometimes stumble over complex images, so don’t be too unhappy with your free Resynthesizer results in GIMP.
This result can be polished with a bit of manual adjustment around the edges and maybe a bit of gaussian blur to soften the effect, and then it should be indistinguishable from the rest of the background.
A Final Word
That covers everything you need to know about content-aware fill in GIMP, and how to expand GIMP’s features with Resynthesizer. Keep in mind that it won’t work perfectly in every situation, and the more complex your image is, the more difficulty you will have in getting a good result.
That being said, it’s a great tool to add to your GIMP image editing toolkit, and the price sure is right!
Happy synthesizing!About Thomas Boldt