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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to get to the Refine Edge/Refine Mask feature. Now, normally I don't have to do this. I don't have to spend an entire exercise showing you how to bring up a dialog box. Because, for example, in the case of Color Range, you always get the Color Range feature by going up to the Select menu and choosing the Color Range command. The problem with Refine Edge/Refine Mask is that it has two different names. So, when you're working with the selection, it's called the Refine Edge feature; when you're working with the layer mask, it's called Refine Mask, and in an attempt to make this feature as discoverable as possible so you can always find it, Adobe has managed to create a feature that you can't always find.
So, I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Masked sunny.psd, and you can see that I'm working on this sunny layer right here, and I have the layer mask active. Well, let's imagine that the layer mask is not active. So, I have the image active instead, and I made it active just by clicking on its thumbnail there inside the Layers panel. Then if I go up to the Select menu, notice Refine Mask, which might alternately appear as Refine Edge, that command is dimmed. So, I can't use it right now, even though it's entirely applicable to layer masks, and that's just because the layer mask is not active right now.
All right, so let's say we just want to get to the command when we're working with the selection outline. Most folks that I've seen demonstrate this command use the Quick Selection tool. I want to show you that if you're going to use any Selection tool at all, there is no sense in going to the effort of using the Quick Selection tool, which if you ask me can be a little irritating at times. You could work with the Polygonal Lasso tool. Check this out. Let's say I want to be able to create a selection that's going to ultimately flow into every tendril of hair. Well, you wouldn't think that you could approach it this way, but I could just go ahead and click around the basic outline of her hair like this, and I'll go ahead and auto scroll up a little bit, complete the selection outline.
That's my selection, which I would not recommend as the best approach to selecting hair, but it actually works as well as something like Quick Selection or Magic Wand, because now, you can go to this Refine Edge button, and the Refine Edge button is always available in the options bar when you're using any of the Selection tools, and you have a selection active here inside the image window. You can also go up to the Select menu and choose the Refine Edge command. That's the one sustaining way of getting to this feature.
If you've got a selection active or a layer mask active, then you can always press the keyboard shortcut to bring up Refine Edge or Refine Mask or whatever it's called. I'm going to go into how these various options work shortly, but for now, make sure that your view is set to On White, which I believe is the default setting, so that we're seeing the selected area against a white background. So, you may recall I went ahead and selected this region of her hair set against the sky and the sea and so forth on the background layer.
Anyway, so I'll select On White, and then I'll click off of that pop-up menu to make it go away, and now I'm going to just raise this Radius value, which is the most intelligent option inside of this dialog box, and as you increase the Radius value, notice how the selection start eeking into the hair. So, it doesn't matter what Selection tool you begin with if you're going to start with a garbagy selection in the first place. You can use just about anything you want to, and you can still get these halfway decent results. Obviously, the reason we start with Color Range is because we want more than halfway decent results.
We want absolutely the best results we can achieve. But I just want you to see I can go ahead and increase this Radius value. That's going to permit the Refine Edge function to basically leak into those hairs, and I could go ahead and take this option up pretty darn high. Let's take it to 100 for demonstration purposes here, and then click on the OK button and notice that I have dramatically transformed what was previously a straight-sided selection outline, so it actually follows the contours of each one of these hair fibers.
All right, so that's one way to get to Refine Edge. I'm going to press Ctrl+D, Command+D on a Mac to get rid of that selection outline, and I'm going to press the M key, in fact to switch back to my Rectangular Marquee tool. Now, let's go to the Masks panel, which I can get by going to the Window menu and choosing the Masks command, or if you loaded dekeKeys, I've given you a keyboard shortcut of Alt+ F10 or Option+F10 on the Mac. There is the Masks panel. Notice it has this Mask Edge button. It's dimmed. Why is it dimmed? Because the layer mask is not active.
You can make the layer mask active either by clicking in its thumbnail here. We've seen that a jillion times now, but you can also from the Masks panel, you can say, you know what? I want the layer mask, the pixel mask as it's referred to inside of this panel, to be active, and you make it active just by clicking on that option there. Notice that switch the layer mask to active, so I can see a heavy outline around it, and now I can access Mask Edge either by clicking on this button or once again, by going to the Select menu and choosing what is now the Refine Mask command, still has the same keyboard shortcut though, Ctrl+Alt+R, Command+Option+R on the Mac.
Any of these options is going to work, go ahead and click on Mask Edge, and you're now going to be able to refine your layer mask that you've created here inside the Layers panel. So, those are the various ways to get to the Refine Edge aka Refine Mask feature inside of Photoshop. Now let's get a sense of how the feature works as I will explain beginning in the next exercise.
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