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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop CS6
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Lecture Comments (4)

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Brown
Wed Aug 27, 2014 6:22 PM

Post by Charles Paustian on August 24, 2014

What graphics tablet do you recommend?

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Brown
Thu Feb 20, 2014 10:09 AM

Post by tori choi on February 20, 2014

How do you reload the selection? I found often times when I try to make changes, I ended up change the whole picture.

And another one, I tried setting the selection using brush with quick mask, I got confused because when I felt like I am done with selecting, there is no way I can make the crawling ants to show up to make some effect.

p.s. Thanks for answering so fast everytime :)
This is a bit harder trying this software by myself and feels differently from when I just watch you doing the photoshop.


  • Proper use of feather is the key to either a flawless image or one that screams "Photoshopped!"
  • Feather is the thickness and softness of a selection border.
  • Feather is the feature that allows you to make flawless blending of your selections into the rest of your image.


Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:07
  • What is Feather? 0:53
  • Demonstration 1: Fixing the Water 1:26
  • Demonstration 2: Feather Sample 4:32
  • Demonstration 3: Fixing the Cove 6:42

Transcription: Feather

Hi everyone, Mike Brown here with you again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

We're continuing our discussion about selections.0008

In the last two lessons, we've gone over the tools, how to apply them, how to add and subtract, how to use Quick Mask to paint corrections into existing selections, or paint selections from scratch.0012

We talked about all of that but one thing we haven't discussed at length is how to control the edge of the selection, and that is the vital part of making a selection that ensures you have a perfect blend when you make a correction within the selection to the outside area, or whether it gives it away and screams "Photoshop".0028

Feather is the thickness and softness of the selection edge.0054

In certain circumstances you will want a clean, but not too harsh edge, soft and clean, in certain circumstances you use a very, very soft, gradual edge that allows a transition gently from one area to another.0060

Let me show you how feather is defined, what it looks like and how to use it, alright, and we're going to use two different examples of that, and let's go ahead into an image.0079

Here we have this image right here...alright, you saw this one in the last lesson, and if you remember, we did a straight line selection all the way across the water's edge, and then a freehand up the hillside--let's zoom real tight on that and what you see, you see a clean edge, but it's not hard.0096

Hard means no pixels at all.0124

There's a couple of free pixels of softness here, even in the edge of the trees there's just a little softness.0127

If we were to make--remember the definition of feather is the thickness and softness measured in pixels, and in that last lesson, I used two pixels and didn't explain it.0136

If we had used zero which means it's a hard edge, and I just make a little selection, selecting the ocean here, and come up and do a straight line over to here and just work this area right in here...there we go.0153

Look at it under the Quick Mask, notice how harsh the edge is--it's jagged and it's absolutely hard in other places, so if I make an adjustment...let's just say of exposure...look at the edge along the trees!0173

It's absolutely identifiable, and that's a giveaway of Photoshop.0197

If, on the other hand (let's load that selection back up) if I take that selection, which is absolutely harsh, and I go to my Select menu to modify feather, and remember we used two pixels in the last lesson--I'll just go two pixels, click OK, look at it under Quick Mask.0204

Look what we've done, we've softened up that edge just a little bit, so now if I go in with my curves, and I do the same thing...look...along the tree line, it blends, and especially along the shoreline--you see no hard edge, just softened enough.0226

Now, I want you to be aware that edge is still, at a distance, pretty harsh, but it's clean and soft.0251

That was the application of feather, just on a very tight edge.0261

Alright, I gave you a quickie but I want to define feather a little more clearly, let's go to a feather's my feather sample--what I've got here, is just a clean edged circle, and I saved several selections--if you remember our saved selections are channels, black and white representations of the selection.0267

Here's that circle with zero pixels of feather which is an absolute hard edge--we'll zoom it way up, and there's the hard edge, it's masked or it's done and there was that hard edge that you saw just when I made that adjustment on the ocean.0294

If we go up to the edge, remember how hard it was?0313

There you see the jagged...that's zero pixels of feather.0317

If I just put one pixel in there which means it will soften that edge goes one pixel...0322

Let me rephrase that, make it clearer, sorry...whatever the amount of feather is in pixels--it goes out that much and in that much so if I put one pixel of feather, it softened it one pixel out and one pixel in which effectively two pixels wide, but look at the difference, now we have a soft edge.0332

Let's go out a little bit, there's zero, hard, one just smooths it out, took the jagged out of it.0354

When I'm selecting clean edges on people, on buildings, on cars, on anything that requires a very clean edge, I use one pixel of feather, which is just enough to take that harshness out of the edge.0362

There's the one pixel, and remember you saw how it changes; we go from zero to one--doesn't show much there, there's 5 pixels--you can see it getting a little soft, 20 pixels, 50 pixels, and we can even go a full 100 pixels and it's now an unbelievably soft blend.0377

That's what feather is, and you already saw a little bit of what it can do, let me show you what it can do...with a soft edge--remember here was a clean edge, and that was two pixels--just enough to clean the edge up.0397

Now we're going to deal with this area of the image...the cove.0413

Now, you look at this and you go "OK, it's a little yellow inside the cove, that's what we're dealing with--that's kelp (that's K E L P) I want to make the transition of this nice blue ocean--get a little more blue into this cove, I know I can't take it all away, but let's improve it".0418

So we have a very soft transition we need out here, we have a complex selection along the edge of the shoreline.0436

We don't really know what to do with that, and then we have this unbelievably hard edged, leafy foreground plant stuff to deal with, and you go "my gosh, that's going to take days to make a selection, how do we do that--you can always add, you can make a soft selection here, a different selection there, and then this around here but it's going to take too long".0444

This is where feather is going to save us--make it real easy.0469

We're going to take our freehand Lasso tool, and there's two ways to do this...actually more, but two basic ways.0472

We know that if I make the selection...roughly following the shoreline and the plants (just going to get fairly close) what's going to happen here--we can check this--this is zero pixel feather, mind you...0481

OK, we got it under Quick Mask, we got a real problem, because if we apply a curves layer here, look what's going to happen...there is no way that that's going to be believable at all...does not work.0503

Let's reload that selection--we're going to call that Zero Pixels just to show you, and we'll turn that off.0520

We'll reload that selection, we've got it--remember, it's Zero Pixels.0530

We can go to the Select, Modify feather, and we can pick number and try to figure out what is enough, but there's another box that you'll be using--we'll go over this in the very next lesson--I'll just give you a little preview; refine edge.0536

Remember under the Select, Modify--here's a border, smoothing the border, expanding and contracting the selection and feathering it.0559

This box here also does that for you.0568

Now you see, we can view this several different ways--we'll go over this again, but we'll leave it where it was--we've been looking, there's our feather, we'll just start adding feather...look, it's getting softer.0573

We're up somewhere around 100, it's looking pretty soft and look what it's doing, it's blending into the shoreline, you can see it's blending in here.0588

We can actually make it go wider, in other words we expand it out, but now we're too far in the shoreline...bring it back out.0597

We can go the other way but now it's too far in the water, so let's just shift it until it's just about there and just about on the plants (back it up just a little) and now we'll take it--look at it there, nice and soft, now what happens when we've made a soft edge even with the hard edges here.0606

Let's go to curves...take our curves, pull it down,'s getting darker inside the cove, and look at the blend out here in the's getting pretty close...0627

Now we can see that it blends well, don't see anything there, let's make that--what was that, 100 pixels...OK.0643

We'll turn that off and on, and look closely...look at the, on, perfect blend with the soft edge.0656

Now here's the real good one.0667

All of these hard edges--look at the plants, you can't even see it because it blended right into the plants...yeah, this is a little bit darker in contrast but it blended so smoothly all the way across the plants, that really soft edge made it completely undetectable.0679

Now we can take that one step further; let's load that same selection--remember how we did that--Command or Control click the mask, there it's loaded, there it is, our soft edge.0691

We'll do a little bit of color let's add a little blue...not too much...add a little cyan...a little more blue...and there you go.0702

Off and on with the color balance, and off and on with both 100 pixels.0717

Now if we did that, remember, with zero, let's readjust that so the exposure's looking better...even though we can match up fairly closely you can still see the edge...that hard edge.0724

Let's turn it off and on...see it right along in there--it's kind of--there you can see it on the shoreline, see that line right there--off and on...0742

And down here, of course the plants don't work at all, so it shows you how to use feather, very soft feather and also...0752

In other words, a large feather, lots of pixel, soft edge, small feather, couple of free pixels, clean edge, both cases there, it allows you to make that perfect blend which makes it undetectable that you've done anything in Photoshop.0762

So now, we've gone through the selection tools, how to add and subtract, how to modify the edge of that selection, and in the next lesson I'm going to take you a little deeper into feather, and we're going to deal with the refine edge dialog box and how to perfectly control those edges and fine tune them.0781

I'll see you back in the next lesson.0802