Photoshop CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge


Photoshop CS6 Essential Training

with Julieanne Kost

Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Video: Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge

In order to select a soft-edged object like this dog, we can go ahead and start with a Quick Select tool, but when we go to Refine Edge we are going to need to make some adjustments. So we can select the Quick Select tool in the toolbar, we can tap the W key and I am just going to start by clicking in this head area and then following down the back of the dog, grabbing some of the tail, and then coming back over here to make sure that we have both of his paws and the right-hand side here as well as both of the eyes. Okay, so I have selected a little bit too much down in the foreground, I can either switch to the Subtract from Selection tool or we can just hold down the Option or the Alt key and remove this area here.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 42s
    1. What is Photoshop?
      1m 42s
  2. 1m 11s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
  3. 32m 16s
    1. What is Adobe Bridge?
      2m 49s
    2. Getting photos from a camera
      4m 27s
    3. A tour of workspaces in Bridge
      5m 32s
    4. Customizing how thumbnails are displayed
      3m 44s
    5. Changing file names and batch renaming
      2m 58s
    6. Adding basic metadata with metadata templates
      5m 10s
    7. Creating and applying keywords to images
      4m 59s
    8. Viewing images in Full Screen Preview mode
      2m 37s
  4. 27m 1s
    1. Using Review mode to filter out rejected images
      4m 18s
    2. Saving images in collections
      4m 23s
    3. Rating and labeling images
      3m 46s
    4. Using the Filter panel to view different subsets
      4m 16s
    5. Using smart collections
      4m 18s
    6. Viewing final selects in a slideshow
      2m 21s
    7. Organizing groups of images into stacks
      3m 39s
  5. 32m 9s
    1. Comparing RAW and JPEG files
      6m 10s
    2. Starting in Camera Raw instead of Photoshop
      3m 12s
    3. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      9m 14s
    4. Previewing before and after adjustments
      3m 58s
    5. Toggling onscreen shadow and highlight clipping warnings
      3m 11s
    6. Choosing output settings
      3m 36s
    7. Saving a copy without going to Photoshop
      2m 48s
  6. 38m 37s
    1. Using the nondestructive Crop tool
      4m 42s
    2. Correcting a horizon line with the Straighten tool
      2m 41s
    3. Fixing color casts with the White Balance tool
      3m 50s
    4. Fixing blown-out highlights
      2m 56s
    5. Revealing hidden shadow details
      3m 7s
    6. Correcting lens distortion
      3m 25s
    7. Making perspective corrections to images
      2m 40s
    8. Removing color fringing and chromatic aberrations
      2m 28s
    9. Sharpening the details
      7m 45s
    10. Making an average photo great
      5m 3s
  7. 50m 52s
    1. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      6m 57s
    2. Making local adjustments with the Adjustments Brush
      10m 19s
    3. Retouching blemishes with the Spot Removal tool
      3m 41s
    4. Exploring a quick portrait retouching technique using Clarity
      4m 31s
    5. Converting to black and white
      2m 36s
    6. Editing images directly with the Targeted Adjustment tool
      3m 21s
    7. Creating selective color effects with the Adjustment Brush
      6m 5s
    8. Using sepia and split-tone effects
      3m 33s
    9. Adding digital film grain texture effects
      2m 10s
    10. Adding vignettes and border effects
      3m 59s
    11. Saving variations within a single file with the Snapshot command
      3m 40s
  8. 15m 13s
    1. Copying and pasting settings across files
      2m 4s
    2. Processing multiple files in Camera Raw
      3m 22s
    3. Saving and using the library of Camera Raw presets
      6m 48s
    4. Using Image Processor to batch process files
      2m 59s
  9. 30m 24s
    1. Opening files from Bridge
      2m 7s
    2. Opening files from Mini Bridge
      2m 51s
    3. Customizing the Mini Bridge panel
      3m 59s
    4. Using the Application frame
      3m 34s
    5. Managing panels
      5m 14s
    6. Switching and saving workspaces
      4m 39s
    7. Switching tools using the keyboard
      2m 47s
    8. Customizing the keyboard shortcuts
      5m 13s
  10. 10m 25s
    1. Working with tabbed documents
      1m 34s
    2. Arranging documents
      1m 52s
    3. Stopping Photoshop from tabbing documents
      1m 32s
    4. Panning and zooming
      3m 14s
    5. Cycling through different screen modes
      2m 13s
  11. 15m 44s
    1. Understanding file formats
      4m 36s
    2. Choosing the resolution you need
      4m 39s
    3. Understanding Resize vs. Resample
      4m 11s
    4. Working with print sizes and resolution
      2m 18s
  12. 32m 54s
    1. Using Undo and the History panel
      3m 7s
    2. Using crop options
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding Hide vs. Delete for the Crop tool
      1m 46s
    4. Bringing back hidden pixels with Reveal All
    5. Making the canvas bigger with the Crop tool
      3m 31s
    6. Making the canvas bigger using the Relative option in the Canvas Size command
      2m 18s
    7. Using the Perspective Crop tool
      1m 27s
    8. Straightening a crooked image
      2m 29s
    9. Scaling, skewing, and rotating with Free Transform
      5m 46s
    10. Making nondestructive transformations with Smart Objects
      2m 34s
    11. Warping images
      2m 48s
    12. Preserving important elements with Content-Aware Scale
      2m 33s
  13. 30m 41s
    1. Exploring layer basics
      11m 16s
    2. Loading, selecting, and transforming layers
      8m 4s
    3. Organizing layers using layer groups
      5m 3s
    4. Merging, rasterizing, and flattening layers
      6m 18s
  14. 43m 11s
    1. Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
      5m 43s
    2. Combining selections
      4m 4s
    3. Converting a selection into a layer mask
      5m 29s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      4m 35s
    5. Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge
      9m 42s
    6. Touching up a layer mask with the Brush tool
      7m 22s
    7. Changing the opacity, size, and hardness of the painting tools
      3m 17s
    8. Blending images with a gradient layer mask
      2m 59s
  15. 34m 36s
    1. Introducing adjustment layers
      3m 47s
    2. Starting with a preset
      2m 18s
    3. Improving tonal quality with Levels
      5m 31s
    4. Increasing midtone contrast with Curves
      6m 44s
    5. Removing a color cast with Auto Color
      2m 30s
    6. Changing the color temperature with Photo Filter
      2m 29s
    7. Shifting colors with Hue/Saturation
      4m 41s
    8. Making washed-out colors pop with Vibrance
      2m 48s
    9. Converting color to black and white
      1m 47s
    10. Controlling which layers are affected by an adjustment layer
      2m 1s
  16. 19m 33s
    1. Adjusting shadows and highlights
      5m 44s
    2. Replacing color using Selective Color
      3m 49s
    3. Using fill layers to create a hand-painted look
      6m 5s
    4. Using a gradient fill layer to add a color wash
      3m 55s
  17. 52m 9s
    1. Removing blemishes with the Spot Healing Brush and the Patch tool
      12m 42s
    2. De-emphasizing wrinkles with the Healing Brush
      4m 52s
    3. Smoothing skin and pores with the High Pass filter
      6m 19s
    4. Making teeth bright and white with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      3m 21s
    5. Brightening eyes with Curves
      7m 0s
    6. Taming flyaway hair with the Patch tool
      3m 44s
    7. Removing unwanted details with Content-Aware Fill
      5m 49s
    8. Body sculpting with Liquify
      8m 22s
  18. 24m 12s
    1. Creating panoramas with Photomerge and Auto-Blend
      4m 48s
    2. Combining multiple frames in an action sequence
      8m 44s
    3. Swapping heads in a family portrait
      10m 40s
  19. 38m 26s
    1. Overview of filters
      2m 52s
    2. Applying filters nondestructively using Smart Filters
      5m 18s
    3. Creating a soft glow with the Gaussian Blur filter
      3m 35s
    4. Creating an infrared look with Diffuse Glow
      2m 14s
    5. Adding noise with the Add Noise filter
      6m 27s
    6. Sharpening an image with Unsharp Mask
      5m 11s
    7. Giving an image texture with the Texturizer filter
      1m 49s
    8. Using the Field, Iris, and Tilt-Shift Blurs
      6m 1s
    9. Creating a painting with the Oil Paint filter
      1m 34s
    10. Applying a filter to multiple layers
      3m 25s
  20. 22m 17s
    1. Cycling through the blending modes
      6m 42s
    2. Adding a lens flare effect with Screen
      2m 41s
    3. Scanning or photographing paper to add a deckled edge
      3m 1s
    4. Making a cast shadow more realistic with Multiply
      5m 21s
    5. Sharpening an image with High Pass and Overlay
      2m 26s
    6. Adding a realistic off-center vignette
      2m 6s
  21. 20m 11s
    1. Exploring character (point) type
      7m 7s
    2. Adding paragraph (area) type
      3m 39s
    3. Adding type on a path
      4m 44s
    4. Clipping an image inside type
      3m 3s
    5. Warping type
      1m 38s
  22. 15m 58s
    1. Adding a drop shadow effect
      6m 15s
    2. Adding edges, textures, and color overlays using layer styles
      4m 27s
    3. Creating a transparent logo or watermark
      2m 43s
    4. Knowing how and when to scale layer effects
      2m 33s
  23. 15m 45s
    1. Creating contact sheets
      2m 49s
    2. Using the Output workspace in Bridge
      5m 32s
    3. Exporting web photo galleries
      4m 20s
    4. Saving for the web
      3m 4s
  24. 23m 38s
    1. Working with video clips
      9m 29s
    2. Adding special effects to video
      5m 45s
    3. Adding pans and zooms to still images
      8m 24s
  25. 1m 10s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 10s

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS6 Essential Training
10h 30m Beginner Apr 26, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Photoshop CS6 Essential Training, Julieanne Kost demonstrates how to produce high-quality images in a short amount of time, using a combination of Adobe Photoshop CS6, Bridge, and Camera Raw.

The course details the Photoshop features and creative options, and shows efficient ways to perform common editing tasks, including noise reduction, shadow and highlight detail recovery, retouching, and combining multiple images. Along the way, the course explores techniques for nondestructive editing and compositing using layers, blending modes, layer masks, and much more.

Topics include:
  • Organizing images in Bridge
  • Adding metadata such as copyrights and keywords
  • Editing in Camera Raw versus in Photoshop
  • Retouching in Camera Raw
  • Batch processing files
  • Customizing the Photoshop workspaces
  • Choosing a file format and resolution
  • Cropping, scaling, and rotating images
  • Working with layers, including merging and flattening layers
  • Creating selections and layer masks
  • Toning and changing the color of images
  • Adjusting shadows and highlights
  • Retouching and cloning
  • Creating panoramas from multiple images
  • Adding filters and sharpening
  • Working with blend modes
  • Adding type
  • Working with video in Photoshop CS6
Julieanne Kost

Selecting soft-edged objects using Refine Edge

In order to select a soft-edged object like this dog, we can go ahead and start with a Quick Select tool, but when we go to Refine Edge we are going to need to make some adjustments. So we can select the Quick Select tool in the toolbar, we can tap the W key and I am just going to start by clicking in this head area and then following down the back of the dog, grabbing some of the tail, and then coming back over here to make sure that we have both of his paws and the right-hand side here as well as both of the eyes. Okay, so I have selected a little bit too much down in the foreground, I can either switch to the Subtract from Selection tool or we can just hold down the Option or the Alt key and remove this area here.

I am going to go up a little bit higher there, okay. So if you know that you're going to use Refine Edge and you know that you have a soft-edged object, you want to make sure that you select all of the object and not too much of the background. So for example, in the tail area here I'm not going to worry about that area. I don't want to select it, because if I select it with the Quick Select too much of the background would be selected. Same with the little fringe hair over here on the right-hand side in the stuff on the top of his head.

So at this point, I'll choose select and then Refine Edge. Now Refine Edge has many different views. I can choose to see the area that I have selected against White or Black. I can see a red Rubylith overlay if I want. I could just see Marching Ants. I can look at layers below it if I wanted to, if I was actually going to composite this dog on a different background. In this case I'm not. What I wanted to do in this project as I simply want to make the dog stand out more. If we see here on the Reveal layer, the dog and the background are so similar in color I'd really like to de-saturate the background so that the dog stands out more.

So for now let's go ahead and look at this On White, because I think that's going to be the easiest for us to see, especially after this lesson is compressed. So the first thing that I want to do is I want to show the radius and then I want to increase the radius here in the Edge Detection area. Now let's take a look at what Refine Edge is doing. This area of the dog was completely selected. I am telling the Refine Edge to show me the Radius, the Radius that's 5.8 pixels along the edge of the selection so that Photoshop knows where my transition areas are along the dog.

It's going to look in this radius and it's going to try to decide what is dog and what is background based on colors and tonality. It's taking all of the colors and tonality that I have selected that are inside the dog it's using those to try to distinguish the dog from the background. That's why I mentioned that you didn't want to select too much of the background. If Photoshop thinks that all those colors and tones in the background are really part of the dog it's going to have a much harder time deciding which areas you want and which areas you want to mask.

Now that we understand the concept of what I'm trying to do, I am trying to tell Photoshop what the transitional areas are, I am going to turn on the Smart Radius and that just kind of is another hint to Photoshop that says that there might be some harder-edged areas and some softer-edged areas here, and so it should make its decision based on that. And then we will turn off the Show Radius option, and I'm actually going to zoom in, let's zoom in to 100% and I will use the Spacebar in order to relocate where the dog is sitting here in my screen. Now I have the option to use the Refine Radius tool to kind of override the refine edge that Photoshop is automatically creating.

So if I know for example, that there are hairs that are sticking out that the Refine Edge has cut off, then I can click- and-drag with the Refine Edge tool and tell Photoshop to recalculate those areas. Now it's done a better job getting the hairs outside, kind of the stray hairs of the dog, but it is accidentally gone too far in and we can see that it thinks that there is a hole in the dog right here. So I am going to switch to my Erase Refinements tool and I'm going to paint over this area to tell Photoshop and to tell Refine Edge, no this is absolutely dog, you cannot make a mask, do not cut into the dog that far. And then you can see I've got that whole area back.

Now we can go all the way around the image but what I want to show you is especially down here in the tail area. I am going to switch back to the Refine Radius tool and I am just going to paint over that tail area, where we didn't quite select enough of it, and when I let go you can see how it's now a much softer edge. It also looks like Refine Edge kind of ate up into the tail, like it took away too much of the tail. But don't forget, what we are seeing here is the mask and it's hard for us to see at this area here that's only maybe 5%, 10% or 15% selected.

So when I was first using this tool, this really concerned me. I was afraid that this would not be a good mask, but in fact it is. Let's just go ahead and just trace kind of right around the dog here and I am going to go up a little further to get a few more of those stray hairs. And then remember, if you see any holes where you know there should be solid dog you can either select the Erase Refinements tool or you can hold down the Option or the Alt key, that will toggle the Erase Refinements and the Refine Edge tool and then we can just paint those back in. All right, so I am not going to worry about this area down here, because this area is too much in the shadows.

When I make my change I don't think we are going to be able to tell that that mask isn't quite as accurate. But I just want to make sure we have the paws here, and I think there are a few more hairs here, I might just want to trace over again. All right, oh, it got into the ear, I'll hold down the Option key, say, no, that's definitely dog, do not make a mask there. All right, once we've gone through and refined this I'll click OK. We can't really tell the difference just based on the marching ants, but what we will do is we will go ahead and add our Adjustment layer.

Remember when we add our Adjustment layer Photoshop is going to automatically take this selection, let's zoom out here, it will take this selection of the dog and automatically convert it into a mask. But we started off this project with the idea that we want to de-saturate the background, I don't want to de-saturate the dog. So before I add the mask I can go into the Select menu and I can choose to Inverse my selection so that the dog is not selected but the background is selected. Then using my Adjustments panel I'll come down to my Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, I'll click to add that.

You can see there is no more marching ants because Photoshop has taken that selection and automatically created a mask for me, where the mask is white we will see the adjustment, where the mask is black it's going to hide the adjustment, and I'll just use the Saturation slider to de-saturate that background and make the dog kind of pop, make it separate the dog from the background. I think that's a little bit too de-saturated there, so I'll just leave it maybe around -45 and then click anywhere out here in order to have that panel auto-collapse.

And if we zoom in to 100%, I will use Cmd+ or Ctrl+1, and we look at the mask that was created, look what a great job it is done around the hair, there is still color in this hair but the background is de-saturated. Likewise down the back, we can see in the tail there it looks great and then down here I might have wanted to spend another minute just touching up that mask, but here's the great thing, we can always do this now. If we look at the mask, if I hold down the Option key or the Alt key and click on the mask, we can see that I might want to clean up this little area right here and I might want to clean up this area.

So the area in my image up here is too gray, meaning that the effect is happening or being applied to that area, so I need to paint with the opposite color. I am going to tap the B key, the B key is going to give me my Brush and because my colors are set to their default, I've got white as the foreground color and black as the background color. Now watch what happens when I start painting with white, when I paint with white, remember, where the mask is white we can see that adjustment.

So let's undo that, we will undo the Brush tool. I am going to tap the X key, the X key will exchange my foreground and background colors. It's the same as tapping this double-headed arrow. So now that I'm painting with black I can come down here and just fix that mask right there because where the mask is black I'm not going to be de-saturating the area. Now there was that one other area along here, I can't actually see where that is without viewing the mask. So again, Option+ or Alt+Click on the mask, we can see that this area is black that's the mistake, so I don't want to paint with Black, right? Let's unto that, I want to tap that X key again to exchange my foreground and background color, and now I will paint with white to hide that mistake.

So it's interesting to me that the mask looks a little bit rough here. We could spend hours trying to refine the edge of this mask right here, but honestly, if we click on the image and we can't see any mistakes in the image that's really what counts. If we can't see that it's being saturated or not being saturated, if visually the image looks good, then I don't really care what the mask looks like. Excellent! Let's zoom out. I think you can see that even though this is a really complex selection, I mean this dog has little stray hairs everywhere, but using the quick select and then combining that with the Refine Edge tool can get us an excellent selection.

There are currently no FAQs about Photoshop CS6 Essential Training.

Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Photoshop CS6 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.