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The Refine Edge command

From: Motion Control 3D: Bringing Your Photos to Life in Three Dimensions

Video: The Refine Edge command

Now that we've got a pretty good selection that's been painted by hand, I'm going to turn to Photoshop and let it do some assistance for me. The Refine Edge command is a very useful command that will analyze the image and do some intelligent behind-the-scenes math for you. Let's press the Q key to exit, and we've got our basic selection. I can now choose Select > Refine Edge, this will show me the selection, in this case over the transparent pixels, but you could choose to see it over white or black to make it a bit easier to detect your edges.

The Refine Edge command

Now that we've got a pretty good selection that's been painted by hand, I'm going to turn to Photoshop and let it do some assistance for me. The Refine Edge command is a very useful command that will analyze the image and do some intelligent behind-the-scenes math for you. Let's press the Q key to exit, and we've got our basic selection. I can now choose Select > Refine Edge, this will show me the selection, in this case over the transparent pixels, but you could choose to see it over white or black to make it a bit easier to detect your edges.

Where necessary, just paint and draw over an edge, and it will re-analyze that to clean it up. I'll typically start though with the Smart Radius command and adjust the Threshold, and this will automatically analyze the edges and does a pretty good job on hair and soft folds. You can also Smooth out any bumps and manually Feather if you need it. This works really well, and when ready, you could choose to convert that to a layer Mask.

Now I'm going to actually make a new layer with the layer mask so it cuts this out to its own layer and click OK. You'll notice that the soldiers have now been removed to their own layer. Let's just name that, and now we can go on and pull out the tent. Couple things here: I need to extract the tent to its own layer, and then I'm going to need a clean background plane. Let's quickly select the tent and extract it on its own, and then we'll move into some cloning and healing.

You've already learned about selection, so we're going to do this pretty quick. Quick Selection tool, drag through to make the basic selection, there we go, and now I'll take the Polygonal Lasso to select the rest of the tent. I have to guess approximately where it's going to be because we'll need to do a little bit of cloning to fill in that area back there. Quick Selection tool will fill in the rest, looks good.

Q for Quick Mask, and I'll actually paint in a soft transition zone here. Because this is not a hard edge, I want a gentle transition. This is where using the Blur tool or the Paintbrush will allow for a gradual selection. So I'll actually paint some white in here at a lower opacity, and that will create a transition zone. There we go.

Little bit of the Blur tool, we'll just soften that edge up heavily, there we go. Q to exit the Quick Mask mode, refine the selection, and that radius works nicely. Little bit of feathering on the bottom, and you see we've got the tent pretty well. Obviously, there's going to have to be some cloning there, but we'll get to that in our next lesson. I'll go ahead and turn that into a new layer with the layer Mask, click OK to add it, and we'll name that Tent.

I'm going to go ahead and duplicate the background one more time, and we'll call that Field. Now that we've got everything split out on its own, it's time to do some selective healing, cloning, and patch filling to create independent layers from each other.

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