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After you make a selection with any of the Selection tools, it's always a good idea to open the Refine Edge dialog box, where you'll find powerful controls that you can use to fine tune a selection. Refine edge is useful whether you're working with a hard edge selection that needs to be smooth or blended--like the one I'm going to create in this image--or if you're trying to make a trickier selection around an object with a soft edge, like hair or a leafy tree. Let's start with a relatively hard edge selection. I'll select the Quick Selection tool here in the toolbar and then I'll come into the image, and I'm going to click and drag across the sky. And in just a nanosecond I have a selection of the sky.
Now that selection may look like a good one. But when you're looking at the marching ant's view of a selection you really can't see what's happening at the very edges of the selection. So I'll check that out by going into the Refine Edge dialog box. I can do that using the Refine Edge button in the options for any of the selection tools, or I can go up to the Select menu and choose up Refine Edge there. When your Refine Edge dialog opens, it may look slightly different than this one, depending on what view is selected here in the View menu. I'll click the arrow to the right of the View menu so you can see the various ways that you can view a selection.
Depending on the photo you're working on, one or another of these views will give you the best look at the edge of your selection, and that's what you're after. So generally when you I get into this dialog box, I'll use the F key to cycle through all these views, looking for the one that gives me the best view of the edge. So in this view, there's a red overlay on the non-selected areas. Here the non-selected areas are black; here they're white; here's a Black & White representation; here the non selected area is transparent. So if there were a photo on the layer below, we would be able to see it here and judge how the selection looked against that photo. And here it's just a regular view of the image.
I think in this case, I'll go with On White, and then I'll click outside this venue to collapse it. If you look closely, you can see that the edge of this selection really isn't smooth; it's actually quite rough. And that's because it was made with the Quick Selection tool, which doesn't have an anti-alias option to smooth out the edge like a Magic Wand does. So what I'm going to do here is use the sliders in the Adjust Edge area, which is where I go when I have a hard edge selection like this. First I'll zoom in, using the Zoom tool here in the Refine Edge dialog; I'll select it and I'll click in the image. And then I'll try using the Smooth slider to just smooth out that edge a little bit.
I don't want to go too far with any of these sliders or I'll end up with a blurry edge. Just to show you what the other sliders do, if I drag the Feather slider over to the right that does blur the edge on both sides of the selection. So if you ever use Feather to try to get a selection that will blend in well with another image, for example, use it with a very light hand. I'm going to put it back to 0 in this case. The Contrast slider will crisp up the edge, so I might put it just about there, in this case. And I can use Shift Edge to either expand or contract the edge of the selection. I'll just leave that at 0 for now.
I'll select the Hand tool in Refine Edge, and I'll just click and drag around the image, making sure that the selection is the way I wanted to be everywhere in the photo. The other parts of this dialog box come into play more often with a soft selection, and I'll show you that in a minute. For now I'm going to click OK, and then I'll go over to the toolbar and I'll double-click the Zoom tool to go back to a 100% view in the document window. Now I'll make use of my refine selection. I think the sky is a bit too contrasty, since I shot this photo at mid-day right up into the sky.
So to lower the contrast and maybe make it a little brighter, I'll go up to the Enhance menu, and I'll choose Adjust Lighting and over to Brightness Contrast. Now normally, I would make a Brightness Contrast adjustment using an adjustment layer rather than directly on the photo, as I'm doing here. But in the interest of time, I'll just take the Brightness slider here and I'll move it over to the right--brightening only the selected area, the sky--and I'll reduce the Contrast of the sky as well. I can see a before and after view by unchecking Preview and checking it again.
And when I'm happy with the result I'll click OK. And now I'll deselect by pressing Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac. So I'm pretty happy with that result. After I refine the edge of the selection to get a natural looking edge between the sky and the buildings. Let's take a quick look at another kind of image. Here I'd like to make a selection of the background, and to do that, I need to make a convincing selection of these small wisp of hair along the edge of the model's head. You could imagine that, that would be a really difficult task for any of the selection tools we've seen so far.
But that's where the Refine Edge dialog really shines. So stay tuned for the next movie where, I'll show you how to make a selection of a soft edge like hair, or an animal's fur, or the leaves of a tree, using Refine Edge.
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