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The initial selection that you make with any of the Selection tools often isn't perfect. And it's useful to take a trip to the Refine Edge dialog box to see if you can make the selection a little more accurate, or more smooth, or just work better with your image. Here is the selection that I've just made with the Quick Selection tool. If you're following along, you can use the Quick Selection tool in this image by clicking and dragging over the umbrella and the girl to get a selection like this one. At first glance, this selection may look fine, but it's difficult to tell how good this selection is here in the marching ants view.
So I'm going to open the Refine Edge dialog box. I can access that dialog box from the Select menu or from the options bar of many of the Selection tools. I'll click the Refine Edge button in the options bar for the Quick Selection tool and that opens the Refine Edge dialog box. I'll move that over a bit so we can see the entire image. Over on the right side of this dialog box there is a Preview check box. With Preview selected, I'll be able to see how the selection looks with whatever settings I've set for these three sliders.
But if I want to see how my selection looks without any refinements, I'll uncheck Preview, and then I'll come down to these icons at the bottom and I'll choose one of them to preview my selection. I think in this case I'm going to get the best preview by looking at the selection against a white background. So I click this white thumbnail and as I suspected, my selection is rather jaggedly. That's because the Quick Selection tool doesn't anti-alias or soften the edge of a selection. That's okay, because I can use these sliders in the Refine Edge dialog box to try to get a better selection along the umbrella and the girl's hand.
First, I'll turn the Preview back on and I'll check my selection against these other backgrounds. I can view it as a black-and-white mask, I can view it against black, I can view the selection with a red overlay, or I can view it with marching ants. I do think, in this case, that viewing it against a white background is the best way to see the image and its edge but this differs depending on the image that you're working with. Now I'm going to go up to the Smooth slider and drag that slightly to the right, and that does smooth out the jagged edges on the selection.
The Feather slider softens the edge of a selection. It basically blurs the edge. I can try adding a little feather, but I don't want to go too far with feather or I'll get too blurry on edge on the selection. So I'll back off on that a bit and I can also contract or expand the selection edge. Let's say that I'm going to delete everything outside of the girl and the umbrella, I might want to pull the selection back in a bit to avoid getting a little fringe of green along with the selected umbrella and girl.
So I might take this Contract/Expand slider and drag it a bit to the left. When I'm done here, I'll click OK to close this dialog box and I've refined that selection edge so that it's more accurate and smoother. By the way, there is another place from which I can modify a selection and that is by going up to the Select menu. Here I have an menu item for Feathering and, in the Modify category, for Smoothing, and Expanding, and Contracting a selection edge, but I find that it's better to do those things in the Refine Edge dialog box, because that gives me the best preview of how my image will look with the refinements that I add.
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