Essential Selection: Excerpted from "Adobe Photoshop Masking & Compositing"
Explore one of the most powerful tools in Photoshop for making and perfecting accurate selections.
Excerpted from “Adobe Photoshop Masking & Compositing,” Second Edition, by Katrin Eismann, Seán Duggan, and James Porto. Copyright © 2013. Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders.
Working with Adobe Photoshop can be a lot like a daily commute, and it can seem like you're in a rut and going over the same territory. When making selections, most people simply grab one of the familiar selection tools from the toolbar and hope a quick drag or click will get the job done. To achieve professional results, relying on the standard selection tools may create disappointing results.
Making selections in Photoshop is such a fundamental part of working in the program that an entire menu is devoted to them, the Select menu. Here we'll take a closer look at the amazing power of the Refine Edge dialog.
REFINE EDGE: In the Options bar for the Marquee and Lasso selection tools is a setting for feathering the selection. Feathering creates a softer edge with a more gradual transition between the selected and nonselected areas. The main problem with choosing a Feather setting in the Options bar is that you cannot see the result and must guess at what number might be appropriate. Fortunately, there is a better way to apply edge feathering, as well as other modifications, to a selection and that is to use the Refine Edge dialog.
Refine Edge can be accessed either in the Select menu or via a button in the Options bar when a selection tool is active. In addition to feathering, the Refine Edge dialog includes a number of other very useful controls for modifying the edges of a selection. This section will primarily be a detailed exploration of the possibilities offered by the Refine Edge dialog, not a strict step-by-step exercise. To properly cover all of the options in Refine Edge, however, we need to start with a basic selection so we have a selection edge to modify; for that we'll use the photo of the curious dog (Figure 1).
Figure 1: This image resource is available to download at ppm.ag/?8. A great majority of the files used throughout the book are available for download at the resource link referenced in the book’s Introduction. ©Seán Duggan
1. Choose the Quick Selection tool with the Auto-Enhance option selected, and set the brush size to 100 pixels. Start the selection by dragging diagonally down from the top of the dog's left ear. Next, drag down from the right ear to complete the selection of the dog's head. Continue dragging over the dog's body until the selection is expanded to cover the entire dog. A few drags with the Quick Selection tool should do it.
2. Zoom in to make sure that you are not missing any areas, such as by the ring on the dog's collar or the bottom edges of the front feet (Figure 2). If you see areas that should be selected but are not, just click on them with the Quick Selection tool (for fine work, make the brush size smaller by tapping on the left bracket key).
Figure 2: Selecting the dog with the Quick Selection tool and fine-tuning the selection around the dog's collar and feet.
3. With the dog selected, click the Refine Edge button in the Options bar or choose Select > Refine Edge.