Using Photoshop's Content-Aware Scale to Create Math Presentations

I run at least half of my lessons off powerpoint, and end the lesson with 10-20 minutes of classwork/homework from the textbook. We use Glencoe, and like many math textbooks out there, it has an online edition that lends itself to screenshots (they're too scared of copyright thieves to allow cut and paste).

Here's the raw shot from Glencoe CA Algebra 1, Chapter 10-3:

Screen shot 2011-01-22 at 11.58.21 AM
Not too shabby, but if you try to fit that on a standard 4:3 screen, you'll either have text hanging off the side, or have to shrink it to the point where it's invisible to the back row.

Enter Photoshop: the content-aware scale tool in CS4 and CS5 lets you select a portion of an image, and intelligently shrink only the areas without meaningful content. Check out the magic that's possible:

image from
Notice how it shrunk the sand and background but left the people, surfboard, and pole perfectly proportioned? Unbelievable.

Anyway, if it can do that, it's pretty trivial for it to figure out the difference between text and whitespace, and shrink up my problems to fit the screen:

 Screen shot 2011-01-22 at 12.07.54 PM

Yes, I could accomplish that with cut and paste, but since Photoshop is usually open, it saves me a couple keystrokes, a little time, and dealing with multiple images in Powerpoint. 

Now, if only it was text-aware…