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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
Alright gang, we have a selected moon, as you can see here. I'm going to go ahead and Zoom in on the moon by pressing Ctrl+Plus a couple of times, or Command+Plus on the Mac. And then I'll scoot the moon over a little bit, so that we can see its edge. Now notice that I've selected a few pixels inward on the moon, because I really didn't want to get any of the black background. Now, I want to show you what the selection looks like, the so-called marching ants here. This animated dotted line doesn't really do a good job of elaborating this selection, so we can't tell what the edge looks like.
We just know it's at this location. But how hard or soft is it? How crisp is that selection? It turns out to be awfully darn crisp. Let me show you. The best way to get a sense of what it looks like is to switch over to the Move tool. You can do that by pressing the V key. If you've been following along with me, you'll see these Transform Controls. We don't want that. So go ahead and turn off Show Transform Controls. You also want to hide the selection outline. You do that by pressing Ctrl+H, or Command+H on the Mac, for hide.
You can also go to the View menu by the way, and turn off the Extras command. Now, the selection is still there, it's just hidden from view, which gives you an opportunity to see exactly what it is you've selected. I want you, using the Move tool, to drag that moon up and to the left just a little bit, or up to the right. I don't care where you drag it, but just move it against the black background, so you can see that edge. I am going to Zoom in a little more, so that you can see that we have a crisp edge that has a little bit of what's known as anti-aliasing.
So a little bit of softening. What anti-aliasing is, is it's Photoshop's way of rendering a circular arc using a bunch of square pixels. So it somehow has to rectify this circle versus square. It does so using a series of translucent pixels right there on the edge of the selection. But it's a line of pixels about one pixel wide. So it is a very crisp edge. If you go back to the Sky with guide. jpg image, you're going to see that things inside this image are not quite that crisp.
So the moon isn't going to look at home against this background, if it has nothing more than that anti-aliased edge; it needs a little bit of extra softening. Here is how we are going to apply it. First of all, you have got to know what you've done. I'm back here in the Full moon.jpg image. I'm going to Zoom out here. Notice that we have this moon that I can just drag around wherever I want, but notice there are no layers in the Layers palette; there's just the Background layer. So we have a flat image, in which the background and the moon are independent of each other.
What in the world is going on there? Well, we have what's known as a floating selection. It's very precarious. At any moment we could accidentally drop this selection and it would be fused with the rest of the image and we would lose the left side of the moon, and we would have this big gaping hole in the center. Floating selections can be kind of fun, because you can affect them using the Fade command under the Edit menu. So if you press Ctrl+Shift+F or Command+Shift+F on the Mac, then you can reduce the Opacity value. Notice that allows you to see through the floating selection to the image in the background.
However, I'll tell you what, you don't want to play around with them too much, because they are so fragile. So Cancel out. Instead, I'm going to go ahead and put it back where it was. Now, I've moved the moon around a couple of times here, so the safest thing to do is go to the History palette and click on the last operation before Move. So that would be Nudge Outline in my case. That goes ahead and restores the selection to its original location. You can now hide the History panel if you like. You could also press Ctrl+H, or Command+H on the Mac, in order to view the selection outline, just to make sure that it's still there. Alright.
So since I need a little bit of softening, I'm going to go up to the Select menu, I'm going to choose Modify, and I'm going to choose this command right there, the Feather command. Feather blurs a selection outline. Notice that if you loaded Deke keys, you have a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+D, Command+Option+D on the Mac. You may look at this and think, well, gee Deke, most of your keyboard shortcuts make sense. This one doesn't make any sense. All I did was reinstate an ancient keyboard shortcut that worked about three versions ago inside Photoshop that I happen to like quite a lot. So that's why I put it back in there.
Anyway, go ahead and choose the command. That brings up the Feather Selection dialog box. You can't preview the effects of what you're doing here; you just have to wing it. Notice right now my Feather Radius value is set to 2 pixels. That's what I want. What that means is I'm going to feather 2 pixels outward and 2 pixels inward. That is blur in both directions. Mas o menos two pixels. I say that because it's using this thing called a Gaussian algorithm. That means that it fades quite nicely, but it actually extends a little bit more than two pixels; it's closer to three.
But it's going to work out beautifully for us. Click OK. And we now have a feathered selection outline. Well, who would know? How in the world do we have any idea of whether we did this right or not, when we can't even see the effects, because the marching ants, bless them, don't do us any good where soft edges are concerned. They haven't moved one iota. So the edges just keep marching along at exactly the same location. Well, still armed with your Move tool I imagine, now I want you to go ahead and press Ctrl+H, Command+H once again, to hide that selection outline and again, drag the moon against the black background a little bit, and Zoom in.
And now you can see we have a softer edge with which to work. It's going to serve us better inside of the new background. Zoom back out, in my case, so that I can center this moon image here. Be sure that before you do anything else, you press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac, in order to put that moon away, so that you don't have that precarious floating selection. You may also want to press Ctrl+H or Command+ H on the Mac to unhide that selection outline. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to introduce the moon into its new background.
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