Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustration by Richard Downs

Introducing the Refine Edge/Mask command


Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Introducing the Refine Edge/Mask command

In this movie, I'll introduce you to what I generally call the Refine Edge command. And the reason I say that is because it technically goes by two names. If you have a layer mask selected, it's called Refine Mask. If you have a selection outline active, then it's called Refine Edge. Either way, it does the exact same thing. I am going to start things off by giving this guy a new background. So I will switch over to this flat JPEG image. I will convert the background to an independently layer by double-clicking on it here inside the Layers panel, and I will just call it sky, and click OK.
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  1. 30m 4s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 19s
    2. Loading the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      6m 5s
    3. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 4s
    4. Adjusting a few general preferences
      4m 3s
    5. Using the visual HUD color picker
      2m 2s
    6. The interface and performance settings
      5m 31s
    7. Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
      7m 0s
  2. 47m 0s
    1. Smart Objects
      1m 36s
    2. Three ways to place a Smart Object
      3m 6s
    3. Copying and pasting from Adobe Illustrator
      4m 11s
    4. Transforming and warping a vector object
      4m 48s
    5. Blending a Smart Object into a photograph
      3m 10s
    6. Blurring with a nested Smart Filter
      4m 57s
    7. Editing a Smart Object in Illustrator
      3m 20s
    8. Creating "true clones"
      3m 50s
    9. Duplicating a group of clones
      2m 53s
    10. Breaking the Smart Object link
      2m 53s
    11. Styling and blending Smart Objects
      2m 44s
    12. Editing originals; updating clones
      3m 41s
    13. Removing people from a scene with Median
      5m 51s
  3. 29m 59s
    1. Luminance meets sharpening
      1m 2s
    2. Correcting for lens distortion
      4m 39s
    3. Introducing Shadows/Highlights
      3m 54s
    4. Mitigating halos with Radius values
      4m 19s
    5. Enhancing the effects of Midtone Contrast
      3m 18s
    6. Creating a "bounce" with Gaussian Blur
      3m 29s
    7. Sharpening on top of blur
      2m 47s
    8. Masking a group of Smart Filters
      2m 53s
    9. Reducing the density of a layer mask
      3m 38s
  4. 49m 10s
    1. Using Curves
      2m 40s
    2. Introducing the Curves adjustment
      7m 36s
    3. Adding and editing points on a curve
      6m 27s
    4. Winning Curves tips and tricks
      8m 12s
    5. Correcting a challenging image
      6m 33s
    6. Selecting and darkening highlights
      4m 39s
    7. Neutralizing colors and smoothing transitions
      6m 6s
    8. The new automatic Curves function
      6m 57s
  5. 1h 31m
    1. Camera Raw
      2m 11s
    2. Opening and editing multiple images
      8m 1s
    3. Correcting white balance
      4m 8s
    4. The revamped Exposure controls
      8m 8s
    5. Working with archival images
      7m 54s
    6. The Spot Removal and Graduated Filter tools
      6m 4s
    7. Painting edits with the Adjustment Brush
      7m 23s
    8. Tone Curves (and why you don't need them)
      5m 57s
    9. Straighten, crop, and geometric distortions
      5m 17s
    10. Applying manual lens corrections
      5m 14s
    11. Vignette, chromatic aberration, and fringe
      6m 49s
    12. Selective hue, saturation, and luminance
      6m 36s
    13. Working with JPEG and TIFF images
      6m 36s
    14. Camera Raw Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    15. Editing Camera Raw images from Bridge
      4m 24s
  6. 32m 30s
    1. Duotones
      1m 23s
    2. Creating a professional-quality sepia tone
      4m 18s
    3. Introducing the Gradient Map adjustment
      5m 42s
    4. Loading a library of custom gradients
      3m 48s
    5. Creating a custom quadtone
      5m 48s
    6. Colorizing with blend modes and Opacity
      4m 6s
    7. Creating a faux-color, high-key effect
      7m 25s
  7. 1h 6m
    1. Noise vs. Details
      1m 28s
    2. Introducing the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 29s
    3. Correcting a noisy photo
      5m 33s
    4. Smoothing over high-contrast noise
      5m 50s
    5. Protecting details with an edge mask
      4m 52s
    6. Adjusting overly saturated shadows
      3m 35s
    7. Correcting with High Pass and Lens Blur
      3m 45s
    8. Brushing away blur and sharpening
      6m 42s
    9. Creating texture by adding noise
      5m 28s
    10. The Camera Raw Detail panel
      7m 8s
    11. Correcting noise and detail in Camera Raw
      8m 10s
    12. Adding noise grain and vignetting effects
      6m 47s
  8. 44m 30s
    1. Blur Gallery
      1m 36s
    2. Creating depth-of-field effects in post
      5m 29s
    3. Modifying your Field Blur settings
      4m 57s
    4. Editing and exporting a Field Blur mask
      6m 15s
    5. Adding a synthetic light bokeh
      3m 52s
    6. Using the Selection Bleed option
      7m 29s
    7. Creating a radial blur with Iris Blur
      6m 59s
    8. Creating "fake miniatures" with Tilt-Shift
      4m 35s
    9. Combining multiple Blur Gallery effects
      3m 18s
  9. 1h 34m
    1. Blend Modes
      1m 16s
    2. Using the Dissolve mode
      9m 47s
    3. Multiply and the darken modes
      8m 30s
    4. Screen and the lighten modes
      8m 10s
    5. Cleaning up and integrating a bad photo
      6m 38s
    6. Blending inside blend modes
      6m 55s
    7. Overlay and the contrast modes
      6m 53s
    8. A few great uses for the contrast modes
      9m 7s
    9. Difference, Exclusion, Subtract, and Divide
      5m 5s
    10. Capturing the differences between images
      4m 18s
    11. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      4m 45s
    12. Blend mode shortcuts
      6m 21s
    13. The Fill Opacity Eight
      8m 57s
    14. Using the luminance-exclusion slider bars
      8m 8s
  10. 44m 20s
    1. Color Range
      1m 14s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      7m 24s
    3. Selecting a complex image with Color Range
      5m 49s
    4. Refining a selection in the Quick Mask mode
      7m 4s
    5. Viewing a mask with or without its image
      4m 24s
    6. Painting directly inside an alpha channel
      5m 39s
    7. Correcting fringes around a masked layer
      8m 5s
    8. Turning a layer into a knockout
      4m 41s
  11. 59m 43s
    1. Refine Edges
      1m 28s
    2. Laying down a base layer mask
      6m 49s
    3. Introducing the Refine Edge/Mask command
      7m 57s
    4. Edge detection and Smart Radius
      4m 42s
    5. Using the Refine Radius tool
      7m 31s
    6. The transformative power of Refine Edge
      3m 37s
    7. Perfecting a mask with overlay painting
      10m 58s
    8. Combining Quick Selection with Refine Mask
      10m 37s
    9. Bolstering and integrating hair
      6m 4s
  12. 1h 18m
    1. The Pen tool
      1m 50s
    2. Pixel-based masking versus the Pen tool
      6m 45s
    3. Drawing a straight-sided path outline
      6m 59s
    4. Moving, deleting, and adding anchor points
      6m 10s
    5. Dragging control handles to modify curves
      5m 27s
    6. Converting a path outline to a vector mask
      5m 36s
    7. Customizing a geometric shape
      5m 53s
    8. How to position points and control handles
      7m 7s
    9. Drawing smooth points with the Pen tool
      8m 7s
    10. Duplicating and scaling a vector mask
      5m 21s
    11. Cusp points and the Rubber Band option
      6m 51s
    12. Setting anchor points in the pasteboard
      6m 8s
    13. Using the Convert Point tool
      6m 43s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
11h 8m Advanced Sep 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.

Topics include:
  • Adjusting the color settings in Photoshop
  • Placing and blending Smart Objects in a scene
  • Transforming and warping vector objects
  • Correcting for lens distortion
  • Mitigating halos and enhancing contrast with Shadows/Highlights
  • Adding and editing points on a curve
  • Editing multiple images in Camera Raw
  • Creating a pro-quality sepia tone or quadtone
  • Colorizing with blend modes and opacity
  • Reducing and smoothing over noise
  • Creating depth-of-field effects with blur
  • Selecting with Color Range and Quick Mask
  • Perfecting a mask with Refine Edge
  • Drawing paths with the Pen tool
  • Converting path outlines to vector masks
Photoshop Camera Raw
Deke McClelland

Introducing the Refine Edge/Mask command

In this movie, I'll introduce you to what I generally call the Refine Edge command. And the reason I say that is because it technically goes by two names. If you have a layer mask selected, it's called Refine Mask. If you have a selection outline active, then it's called Refine Edge. Either way, it does the exact same thing. I am going to start things off by giving this guy a new background. So I will switch over to this flat JPEG image. I will convert the background to an independently layer by double-clicking on it here inside the Layers panel, and I will just call it sky, and click OK.

Now, armed with my Rectangular Marquee tool, I will right-click inside the image window, and choose Duplicate Layer, and then I will switch the document to Rough base mask.psd, which is my composition in progress, and then I will click OK. All right. Now if I switch back to that composition, I can see the sky is in front, and the portrait shot is in back. So I will drag the sky to the bottom of the stack, and then I will click on the side view layer to make it active. Now I am going to go ahead and zoom in here; notice that we have not only some very rough edges, of course, but some very clumsy edges over here on the left-hand side of the guy's face.

The easiest way to take care of those problems is to use the Magic Wand tool; it's just going to serve us best. So you can go ahead and select the Magic Wand from the Quick Selection tool flyout menu, and then press the Enter key in order to highlight the Tolerance value, and I am going to take it up to 16 luminance levels. And you can go ahead and turn on the Anti-alias checkbox as well, for all the good it does us. Then go ahead and click right here above the guy's shoulder in order to select a great deal of the background, as you can see. I will go ahead and zoom out to take in the marching ants, which are tracing the entirety of the front of the guy's face, as well as up along the top of the hair, and out a ways into that gradually lit background. All right.

I am going to go ahead and zoom back in, so I can see those edges up close and personal, and I will click on the layer mask thumbnail here inside the Layers panel to make sure the layer mask is active. Black is my foreground color, so I will press Control+Backspace, or Command+Delete on the Mac, to fill that selection with black. All right. Now that we have something that the Refine Edge command can work with, I will go ahead and double-click on the layer mask thumbnail in order to bring up the Properties panel. Now, normally the Mask Edge button would not be dimmed; it would be available to us, and I could go ahead and click on it in order to bring up the Refine Mask dialog box.

In my case, however, I can't, because there's a selection active. Let me go ahead and hide the Properties panel. I will show you another way to get to the command, which is to go up to the Select menu, and choose Refine Edge in this case, or you can press a keyboard shortcut, Control+Alt+R, or Command+Option+R on the Mac. Now, the fact that the command is called Refine Edge instead of Refine Mask tells us that Photoshop is going to apply the effects of the command to the selection outline, as opposed to the layer mask. That's not what we want. So I will press the Escape key in order to hide that menu, and I will press Control+D, or Command+D on the Mac, in order to deselect the image.

Now if I go ahead and double-click on the layer mask thumbnail, the Mask Edge button is available, and I can click on it to bring up the Refine Mask dialog box. Problem is, then if I try to scoot the dialog box out of the way, the Properties panel is blocking part of the image in the background. That's not what I want, so I will cancel out, and hide Properties, and instead of using that button, I'll go up to the Select menu, and choose what is now Refine Mask, thereby telling me that I will affect the layer mask, because there is no selection. So if there is a selection, it gets priority.

If there's no selection, you can choose the Refine Mask command. And that's what I will go ahead and do in order to bring up the Refine Mask dialog box. Now, I want you to see here that you've got this View option, and it represents a tiny preview of our composition. In our case, we're seeing the mask guy against a white background. If that's not what you want, you can click on that icon there, and you can switch to, for example, On Black to see him against the black background, or Black & White in order to see the layer mask itself. If you choose On Layers, you'll see the guy against the cloud background, and if you click on Reveal Layer, you'll see the active layer by itself.

In my case, I think On Black is going to represent things the best. All right. Now I will click away from the menu to hide it. For now, we're going to focus our attention on the Adjust Edge options here; Smooth, Feather, Contrast, and Shift Edge. They are in large part modeled after the commands that are available under the Select menu. You go down to Modify, and then normally, if I were working on a selection outline, I could gain access to commands like Smooth, and Feather, and so forth. These options right here serve the same purpose, except for one big difference: you can preview your modifications as you apply them, which is not true when using the select commands.

So in other words, these options right here are better. For example, let's start with something familiar, like Feather. I will go ahead and click inside of it, and I will increase that Feather value to, say, 20, and that goes ahead and blurs the mask, and we can see the degree to which it blurs the mask on the fly. And this would be true if we were working with a selection outline as well; we would get this exact same preview if we had the view set to On Black, and we could see the effects of feathering the selection as we do here. The Contrast value allows you to increase the sharpness of that edge, so now that I've gotten done blurring it, if I take the Contrast value up to 80%, for example, I end up with this much sharper version of the edge.

Notice how that rounds the heck out of the corners, however, including things that aren't really corners; just divots along the edge. So a combination of a high Feather and Contrast value ends up approximating that selection edge. If you want to shift the edge inward or outward, you use the Shift Edge option. And if you apply a positive value by dragging the slider triangle over to the right, then you move the edge outward. If you drag the triangle over to the left in order to apply a negative value, then you move the edge inward.

I don't want to do any of that. I am going to zero out all those values there by Shift+Tabbing my way back. I'm interested in adjusting the Smooth setting, because after all, we have very ratty, jagged edges. I will go ahead and zoom in a little farther even, so we can see him here. And that's not his razor stubble, even though he has got some. That is just some bad edge detail. So notice, if I start taking this Smooth value up by pressing Shift+up arrow, then I will smooth that edge dramatically. However, if I take it too far, then I end up, once again, rounding off the corners.

That's not what I want. So I am going to take the Smooth value back down to 0, and then I'll press the up arrow key in order to nudge that value upward until I get a very smooth edge, as you can see here, which happens for me as low as 5. Then I'll tab my way down to Shift Edge, and I will press Shift+down arrow in order to shift that edge inward, like so. And I'm ultimately going to take it, let's say, to something like -50 might work out pretty well. Now, if you want to compare the before and after, you turn on Show Original to turn the preview off, and then you turn show original back on to turn the preview setting on.

And you know, I think this is the wrong combination of values, so I am going to try a higher Smooth value here. So I will set that guy to 10, and then I will take Shift Edge down to -20. I think that ends up being a better combination, because what you're doing with Shift Edge is you're shifting the edge inside of the gray space. So in other words, wherever you have gray pixels in the mask, that's the area in which you can shift that edge back and forth. So you can't shift white into black; you can just make the gray pixels brighter, or in our case, darker, because we're shifting the edge inward.

And when I say gray pixels, I mean the gray pixels in the mask, not the gray pixels in the image. All right. That looks pretty good to me, so I'm going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification, and just to give you a sense of what were able to accomplish here, I will press Control+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac. There's our very jagged selection outline at 400%. And if I press Control+Z or Command+Z again, we can see that it is much smoother now, thanks to some very basic modifications applied using the Refine Mask command here inside Photoshop.

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