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Refining selection edges

From: Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

Video: Refining selection edges

Often you are going to want to fine-tune your selections. Fortunately, Photoshop gathers all the fine-tuning controls into one convenient location for you called the Refine Edge panel. From there you will be able to soften your selection edges, contract and expand them, and otherwise refine your selections to make them fit your images. Before I show you the Refine Edge panel, I need to have a selection going and so I am going to use my favorite Selection tool, which I showed you in another movie, the Quick Selection tool here. I am going to go to the Options Bar and set it back to its default icon, which is the first one here, and then I am going to come in and just drag down the river with a very small brush, letting the tool select the river for me.

Refining selection edges

Often you are going to want to fine-tune your selections. Fortunately, Photoshop gathers all the fine-tuning controls into one convenient location for you called the Refine Edge panel. From there you will be able to soften your selection edges, contract and expand them, and otherwise refine your selections to make them fit your images. Before I show you the Refine Edge panel, I need to have a selection going and so I am going to use my favorite Selection tool, which I showed you in another movie, the Quick Selection tool here. I am going to go to the Options Bar and set it back to its default icon, which is the first one here, and then I am going to come in and just drag down the river with a very small brush, letting the tool select the river for me.

Then I will go back to the Options bar and I will click on the minus icon and I will come in and go over these small areas that the tool added to the selection and I really don't want them in here because I want only the river selected at this point. I am not going to be too careful because I am going to let the Refine Edge dialog do a lot of this work for me. Here is just a couple of spots to get and I am done. Now I actually wanted to have the banks of the river selected rather than the river itself. So to do that, I am going up to the Select menu and I am going to choose Inverse and now everything is selected except the river.

So now I am going to open the Refine Edge dialog to refine the edges of the selection along the trees here. I can access the Refine Edge dialog from the Options bar for this tool and for other selection tools or I can go to the Select menu and open the Refine Edge dialog box from here. The first thing to notice about the Refine Edge dialog box is that it shows the selection not as marching ants by default but rather against a white background. Alternatively, I can view the selected trees against a black background or against this mask view or I can see the actual mask that Photoshop is creating from this selection.

A mask is just another way of displaying a selection and in this case, when you look at the mask, the selected areas are white, the non-selected areas are black, and the partially selected edges of the trees are various shades of gray. In this case, I prefer to use the white background. So with that option selected, I am going to use these controls to refine my selection. I usually start by putting everything over all the way to the left back to 0 to see how the selection would look without any changes. As you can see, it's pretty rough.

Then I am going to go to the Radius slider at the top and I am going to move that over to the right. I will go a little ways and then I will release my mouse and as I go, I see that the edges of the trees, including the individual branches, are starting to come back as I refine that selection edge. And you will notice that when I am hovering over the Radius control, at the bottom of this dialog box, there is a description that tells me that radius will improve the edge in areas with either soft transitions or fine details. These are certainly fine details and I think the Radius slider is doing a pretty good job of it for me.

Now along with radius, I will sometimes use Contrast because when you increase the radius, you do sometimes get a little bit of fuzzy artifact along the selection edge as the description tells us here. So I am going to move the Contrast slider over a little and you can see the edges on my trees filling in with a little more contrast there. There are some other sliders that sometimes come in handy. Sometimes, I will move the Contract/ Expand slider over to the left a bit to contract a selection edge. That helps you move any fringes of dark or light pixels that sometimes appear on the edge of the selection.

And sometimes I will use Feather, particularly when I am making a selection of an object that I want to include in a collage. So I'll want to have a soft edge that blends with another background. So you can see that when I pull Feather over to the right, it blurs the edge of this selection. I am going to take that back to 0 in this particular case and finally, there is a Smooth slider that does what it says. It makes selection edges smoother. And again, I don't want that in this case. So when I am all done, I am just going to click OK, and that takes me back out to my normal selection view with the marching ants.

When you are viewing your initial selection with marching ants, like reviewing this selection, it's almost impossible to judge the quality of the edge. So it's always a good idea to go into Refine Edge to review your selection against the various backgrounds offered there and to use the sliders in Refine Edge to fine-tune the selection that you have made with any of the selection tools.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

103 video lessons · 67244 viewers

Jan Kabili
Author

 
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  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye
      30s

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