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You may need to soften or harden the edges of a selection depending on the type of adjustment or effect you're planning to apply to the selected area. With this movie I would like to show you how to alter the edges of a selection using the controls available in the Refine Edge dialog box. But currently we have the flower_02.JPG image open. This can be found in our catalog images folder in the exercise files and what I want to do is just make a real quick selection of this flower using the Quick Selection tool. We can go ahead and size the brush using the right bracket key. That's a great way to size the brush on the fly, however, if you want you can always go up here under the Brush settings, click that down facing arrow and then increase the diameter as well.
As now we have a large brush, I'm going ahead and just click inside of the flower, draw over the area that I want to select. I've got most of it selected now. I'm going to go ahead and resize the brush make it smaller and just draw over this area in here, get the parts that I want. Maybe edit outs the ones that I don't by holding down the Option key, that's not looking too bad. It doesn't have to be perfect down here in the bottom because what I'm eventually going to do here is try and apply a Blur effect to the surrounding area, all of the area on the leaves surrounding the flower. So it doesn't have to be perfect down here. Its okay if we have this area in here selected.
So now that I have my selection, what I want to do is change the selection edge using the Refine Edge dialog box. Let's go ahead and do that. We can access that from either the Refine Edge button when we have a selection tool selected over here in the Tools palette. Click that button or you can choose Select > Refine Edge, either one would bring up this dialog box. Now first thing I want to point are your Preview options. Right now we're viewing our marching ants and the first option doesn't change at all. It just shows you the marching ants and what happens to those marching ants of your selection as you adjust with these sliders. Or you can view your selection using a mask.
Now that can sometimes be helpful too; it's not quite as helpful in this instance only because the flower is almost the same color as the mask color, which is red. So it's a little bit difficult here. What I suggest we do is just a kind of flip-flop between these two preview options to see which is better as we're making our adjustments with these sliders. Now these are defaults settings; we have a Smooth setting of 3. As you can tell by the description at the bottom, it says when you hover over Smooth, it says "Smooth removes the jagged edges along a selection edge." So if the type of effect or adjustment you're going to make using this selection requires a smoother edge than what you already have, you can increase this. In this instance I don't necessarily need to do that but if you ever needed to that's how you would do it. You just increase by dragging the sliders to the right and it would smooth out any jagged edges. I can't see it's starting to affect the marching ants in here as I move this to the right.
With the Feather option, it's going to soften the selection edge and the further you drag, the softer it's going to get. Now you're not going to see anything soften inside the photograph it's going to affect the edge but it is going round out the edges as you drag this to the right, see what's happening we're losing more and more detail around those corners. That's sort of giving us an indication of the softening effect that happens when you drag this further and further to the right. Now I actually do want to drag this over and far because I want a pretty soft edge when I apply the Blur effect that I'm going to apply after we're through with these settings in this dialog box. Somewhere around there, nice, loose, soft edge is what we're going to have here.
In the Contract and Expand slider here, we can contract the selection by dragging to the left or expand it out by dragging to the right. I will actually want it to creep in a little bit to the flower itself in order to really, really make this nice soft transition when I apply the effect. All right, something like that. That actually looks pretty good. If I click on the mask here we might be able to see a little bit better what we're doing but again because this is red this is not as useful to us, something to keep in mind. So we will go back to the Preview with the marching ants.
That actually is telling me the information that I need to know for now and I'm going to go with that. So let's say OK we have refined our edge, we have applied a pretty strong feather 104 pixels about and -8% of the contraction. Click OK. The next thing I want to do is inverse the selection, I'm going to choose that from the Select menu, Inverse we now have the surrounding area selected. Sometimes if you want to apply an adjustment or an effect to the surrounding image area, makes more sense to select the object first and then choose it's inverse, that's what we're doing here. Certainly we don't want to select all these leaves. So it makes more sense do it this way.
Now that we have the Inverse of our selection what I'm going to do is hide the marching ants. I know that I have the right area selected, I know that my edge has been refined. I want to hide it. I'm going that by pressing Command+H. That's a great keyboard shortcut to memorize. I still have my selection. I'm just not seeing it. The reason I don't want see it, it's because it gets in the way when I'm previewing the effect that I'm about to apply. Let's go under Filter and choose Blur > Gaussian Blur. Now we have a preview window over here and because we have preview checked we can also see the Blur effect in the image itself, in the background here. It's starting out with the radius of 1 pixel. If we increase this to the right it's going to add a stronger and stronger blur effect.
Did you see what's happening? It's starting to blur the surrounding area around the flower. We can see the effect of that Feather and that Refine Edge around the image as we increase the Blur amount we can see it more and more apparent. That's kind of a nice effect. It's almost a painter like effect I really enjoyed that, think it's kind of neat. All right if you want to make it not quite so apparent, you just want to keep it a little bit more realistic, you might want to go somewhere along these lines and just blur the leaves in the background so that they are blending in a little bit better with the natural blur that you had in the original photograph down here. The things are little bit more balanced now.
So they both are really cool effects but the both can be done by making that selection with the Quick Selection tool and then altering its selection edge then affecting the Inverse. That's an important concept. Let's go ahead and click OK that's looks pretty good to me. All right, so what we learn here is after you make your selection if you want to change the way your edge is going to appear in your image after you apply your adjustment or your effect, you need to make an adjustment in the Refine Edge dialog box. You can soften an edge, you can smoothen an edge, you can also expand it and contract it all using those settings in the Refine Edge dialog box.
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