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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
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Lecture Comments (2)

1 answer

Last reply by: Professor Brown
Fri May 16, 2014 7:11 PM

Post by John Dufour on May 16, 2014

Hi Michael,  I have attempted a couple of times to correct the selection with the "inverse-refine edge-feather(2)-expand(100%)-ok-DELx2. First couple of times it worked ok.  The last time I did this I got a roundish saw edge along the edge of the flower, especially after the second DEL.   Any ideas on what I am doing wrong?   John

Making Efficient & Flawless Selections

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
  • Feather 1:06
    • What is Feather?
    • Feather Demonstration
  • Selection & Feather Demonstration 7:18
    • Making Selection & Applying Feather: Water
    • Making Selection & Applying Feather: Shoreline

Transcription: Making Efficient & Flawless Selections

Hi, everybody--Mike Brown back with you with another lesson in Adobe Photoshop Elements from Educator.com!0000

In the previous lesson, we explored the basic selection tools in Photoshop Elements, showed you how each one works, basically, and how to add and subtract from basic selections.0006

In this lesson, we're going to take it further, and I'm going to show you how to make efficient and flawless selections with those basic selection tools, and we're going to explore the property called feather--a vitally important property to make sure that you get flawless blends when you make selected areas and correct within them.0017

We're going to define what it is and have an example of how and why to use it, and then I have Part 2 here; we're going to demonstrate making selections, using feather, and adding and subtracting.0037

Make a mistake; keep going--if you're making a selection and you make a mistake, don't go back and start again--it will take too much time.0049

Just keep going, and we'll come back and fix it; it's very easy to correct things.0058

That will allow you to make quick and efficient selections.0062

Let's start by talking about "What is feather?"; feather is the width (let's just go ahead and get this) and softness of a selection edge.0066

In other words, you can see automatically, without even showing it you--if the edge is wide and soft, you make a correction--it's going to blend gradually into the rest of the area.0084

If the edge is very hard and you make a correction, there is going to be a very abrupt change right along a sharp line of the correction into the rest of the picture.0097

Sometimes, you want a sharp edge; sometimes you want a soft edge; and the way you do that is with feather.0108

Let me demonstrate it: here is an example right here: I made a circular selection, and I outlined the edge so you can see where the circle is, right here.0115

I'm going to go ahead and turn that off, and what I did is made a series of saved selections.0130

You can save any act of selection by going to the Select menu, down to Load or Save (you see under here--Save is grayed-out because I don't have an active selection), and then you can load it back up.0137

Before I do that, I want to show you where feather actually appears, to show you how important it is.0152

Under the Marquee tools, the options give you a feather slider--both of them.0158

Under the Lasso tools, each tool can be adjusted the feather--there it is, right there--all three of those.0164

Under the Selection Brush, there is no feather directly, because you are painting--we haven't dealt with that yet.0171

The Quick Selection tool does not directly have feather, but if I do a Quick Selection, like that, notice the Refine Edge box becomes active.0178

If I use the Magic Wand and click that, again, Refine Edge.0190

You can get to the Refine Edge under the Select menu, as well.0197

When you click that, you have numerous options for adjusting your selection, and there is feather again.0201

So, feather appears almost everywhere.0208

Let's go back to our blank selection, and I'm going to load up a selection of that circle with no feather at all--zero pixels--very hard edge.0211

It's right here: there is a series of selections: 0 pixels up to 100; there is 0; I load it.0224

You see the crawling ants, which defines the center of the edge; if the edge is soft and wide, it's right in the middle.0231

At 0 pixels, it's right on the edge.0239

I can change this to a visible representation of a selection by making what is called a mask out of it.0241

We do that with the Selection Brush, and now you see that selection as a black-and-white representation.0250

The white circle is the active area; the black is the masked or protected area.0259

We'll take a look at the edge, and as you see, if I zoom it way up, you can see that it's just absolutely hard; it stair-steps right down the pixels.0265

That is 0 pixels of feather; it's just a very hard edge, as hard as you can get.0277

100% active inside the selecting area; 100% blocked and protected; and it's an instant transition from all correction to no correction, right along the harsh edge.0283

If we feather it, which means we soften the edge by the number of pixels that we feather, let's start with loading a selection for one pixel of feather.0299

Watch the edge, and notice that it has softened the edge.0312

I'll undo that and redo that; there is 0; there is 1 pixel.0316

1 pixel does a really great job of just cleaning the edge and making it nice and soft.0322

As we come back down, you see: there is 0; there is 1; it's just a nice edge.0329

Now, in photographs, you will rarely ever find...in graphics, you will find absolute harsh edges; in photographs, almost never.0336

As a matter of course, I suggest that you make a minimum feather of 1 for any selection for any use other than in graphics, just to soften and clean the edge.0345

Now, let's go further: Select, Load Selection, 5 pixels of feather: watch the selection.0358

Notice that it got softer; there is 1; there is 5.0367

Now, the transition from correction to protected area has a softer edge, and it's beginning to blend.0371

Let's go back to 1, and let's load up 20 pixels of feather.0378

There is 20; in other words, from right in the center of that selected area, out to that edge, is now 20 pixels; so it's a very gradual drop-off.0386

Notice that the circle, if I correct it in here, is going to have a soft transition and blend with the outer area more.0396

There is 1; there is 20; go back to 1, and let's do one more--let's go all the way to 100 pixels.0403

Now, you can see that the center was right about there, and if you make a correction, it's just going to do a very, very soft and gradual blend into the rest of your picture.0412

You can either be using a harsh transition or a soft transition--whatever you need to accomplish the task, depending upon the picture.0424

Let's put that to practical use right now and show you how it works.0437

Here is an image that I have taken of this cove locally.0441

What we have here in the foreground area (let me make sure...right here--there is the original shot): we have a cove, and you can see that it's kind of a little yellowish, muddy-looking, and then it gets out into the open water.0447

We have a nice blue ocean, but inside the cove, it's just kind of dirty yellow.0468

What that really is are beds of kelp underneath the surface, but it doesn't look very good, so I would like to take this entire area right here, and color and exposure correct it to match it up with the ocean.0472

But, we have a few problems; this is how you attack things.0486

Look here, at this line along in the ocean, where on this side, in here, it's all kelp; out there, it's blue.0490

It's not a sharp edge--it's a very gradual transition.0496

What does that tell you?--we need a soft-edged selection to allow that to blend.0500

If we put a hard edge--I'll show you that right now.0505

Let's take a Lasso tool with 0 pixels of feather, and just select part of this area, and I'll go ahead and do an Enhance, Lighting, Levels correction on it.0508

We'll bring it down, and we'll open it back up some and do a little change in...that is pretty close to as good as you can get, right there.0521

Command/Control+H, and look what we have: you have a hard edge that shows.0537

That is because there was no feather in the selection.0545

What we're going to do is back that out and leave it right there.0549

Now, you see that we need a wide, soft edge; but what happens over here?0554

This would take you days to try to select every single one of these leaves and branches of this area, and then try to figure out how to select along this jagged cove.0561

Well, there is an easy solution to that: a very soft edge--a large feather.0574

Let's show you how to do that.0580

We're going to go ahead and leave the feather, right now, at 0, and we'll adjust it in a moment.0582

We're going to take this (let me zoom it down one time), and we're just going to make a selection, just generally, and I'm going to stay a little bit away from the edge of everything.0588

We're going to let the soft feather that we apply move it out.0601

See what I'm doing?--I'm just making an easy selection; I'm not even worrying about these leaves.0606

When you get to the edge, if your selection goes all the way to an edge, go past it, because it will always snap back to the edge, and it's very difficult just to follow the edge cleanly.0612

So, I go down, and I go up, and you can see the line following it.0623

I release, and there is our selection; let's look at it as a mask.0627

You see right there--it's a very hard edge; we'll go right back to the selection.0632

So, if I put an adjustment in there, Command/Control+H just hides the selection crawling ants.0637

Let's go Enhance; let's go to Lighting; let's go to Levels, and let's darken it down a little bit, and increase the contrast just slightly, and bring it back up.0645

Not bad, but let's look at what happened.0659

You can see the edge--see, right here in the water--that dark line; and, as we get over toward the shoreline, there it is, and back here...0663

That just doesn't work at all!0673

That is because the selection had a hard edge.0675

We're going to back it out; there is the selection, so now let's do this: we're going to go to the Select menu, go down to feather, and we're going to feather it a fairly large number--let's start with about 60 pixels.0679

You can do this and undo it until you get where you need to be.0697

Now, it doesn't change the look because of the crawling ants, but once again, let's look at it as a mask.0701

Look what is happening--now, you're beginning to see a softer edge.0710

Let's go back to the selection: it's softened down by 50 pixels, so let's try that and see what happens.0715

Command/Control+H, Enhance, Lighting, Levels, and we'll bring it down now.0722

And see, out there in the water, it looks pretty good.0731

Actually, we'll lighten it up just a little bit--right there--and we're going to undo it and redo it.0734

Now you're seeing some effect; the ocean looks fine; let's go out there and take a look.0744

Undo, Redo; the softness in that edge blended it, but look here at the water's edge.0749

Undo, Redo; it's not bad, but we're seeing a little bit of brightness right here; it could be a little better.0756

What we're going to do is try it one last time.0764

Here is your Command+H; there it is; back to Select, Feather--and instead of 60, let's go to about 150 and see what happens.0767

Take a look at it as a mask again: now, you can see--look at the transition--see, right in here, we can see that the blend is now beginning to touch the plants.0778

It's also beginning to touch the shoreline--just what we needed; and it's beautiful everywhere else.0792

We'll go back to the selection; now, we're going to do Command/Control+H, Enhance, Lighting, Levels, and now we'll apply those same corrections; we're going to darken it and open it up just a little bit.0798

Now, let's go ahead and get that right here, take that part out, zoom it up a little bit so you can see this; watch now (close out this box, too).0818

Command+Z, Command+Y; look in the ocean; out here, you can't see any transition whatsoever--no evidence of photoshopping.0831

Command+Z; look at the water line--it comes in; the water line actually snapped a little; perfect, and look down here in the green greenery; Undo; Redo; look at that beautiful, soft transition.0842

What we did (undo it, redo it): we matched up the exposure.0860

Now we need a little color shift; we still have our selection, so we can go in--it's nice and soft and perfect--go in the Enhance menu, Color, let's go to Color Variations, and we're going to take (since it's too much yellow)--we need to add a little blue.0865

We're just going to go ahead and add it; too much; let's drop the intensity down.0885

Let's, in the mid-tones, add a little bit of blue, and click OK, and we're going to undo that and redo it, and notice how much improvement we have.0890

Let's go back to the very beginning on this.0902

We started right here, and we got it to there, and look at the transitional areas--how smooth they actually are.0908

You see no evidence of where we did it.0916

That is how we use a large amount of feather for a gradual transition, and it even worked where we had some sharp edges--it let it just blend.0918

All right, that is the value of a large feather.0927

Now, we're going to work on the shoreline, and also, we're going to make a selection of the entire shoreline, up the hill, and the sky.0930

This will demonstrate feather, adding and subtracting, and "make a mistake; don't worry about it."0938

Let's take a look at that shoreline.0946

We'll zoom it up, and look what we have: remember, I told you we have clean edges--this is a very unfocused picture--but notice, right along the shoreline, it's not absolutely clean-edged.0949

There are a couple of pixels of softness all the way along there.0963

So, if we make a zero-pixel feather (let's just take a Polygonal tool and very quickly--let's back it off to 0--sorry, get that back; let's make the feather 0, and we're just going to make a quick little bit of a selection).0968

Click, click, up, over, and that should close it off; we'll take a look at it as a mask again; see what we have--very hard edge.0987

If we apply Control/Command+H, it just hid the crawling ants; Adjust Lighting, Levels; and if we darken it down, you see what happens is that the edge is very visible, as a very hard-transition edge.1003

We'll cancel that and deselect, and now let's take that same selection tool and make 2 pixels of feather only--just soften it out a little bit.1020

Now, we're going to do the same thing--go right up here, to here, to here, to here, and close it off; Command+H, Enhance, Lighting, Levels; and apply that same hard correction, but you can see now that it's a soft transition that matches the approximate softness of the actual shoreline.1033

We're going to use 2 pixels; in other words, right here, we couldn't use that really wide transition of 100 pixels that would affect the ocean, or 0.1061

So, we're going to pick 1 or 2, and it shows you the different spots.1071

Now, we're going to go ahead and make a selection of this entirety.1075

We're going to start over here; let me show you a couple of tricks.1080

I'll click it, and I'm releasing; I click again, and I can move the image by doing spacebar, which activates the Hand tool, click and drag, release, and we're back moving again.1083

Or, here is the trick: with your mouse, just release the clicker, or with the touchpad, release the clicker, and you have it floating; and just go the edge of the image, and look: it will push the image in the opposite direction, the same as using the spacebar.1097

Now, I can go ahead and click, and just push; click and push.1114

I'm going to go to here and follow down the jetty; straight lines; notice how well this is working and how quickly it's working.1121

This is pretty easy; we'll keep going here; there, there, there, right down there--just clicking our way along, following the shoreline.1131

But now, I ran out of shoreline; I'm going to go right through that tree and make a mistake.1143

Follow the shoreline again right down to here.1150

I made a couple of mistakes.1154

Now, I'm going to release; I'm going to zoom out, Command/Control- a couple of times; I want to get the image down; we're going to make a partial selection.1156

I'm going outside the border; it will always snap back to a nice, clean edge; spacebar now--let's move the image over to here; click, click, go right back to there, and there it closed it off.1165

Now, it may have made a slight error; I'm not going to worry about it.1179

What I want to do is: first, I'm going to look at this as a mask with a Selection Brush option, and it looks nice.1184

We got a little bit of softness in it; we zoom it up; see, we have that 2-pixel softness; it looks good.1194

Turn it back to a selection.1201

Now, that took a little while; I don't want to lose that selection, so I'm going to go to the Select menu, Save Selection; I'm going to call it Shoreline 1, and I'm going to save it.1203

And now, if something happened (in fact, I may have a mistake on the left side; let's take a look; we'll check that--that is what this is really good for--oh, OK, we're good)...1221

I still have the selection, but let's see what happens here; I deselect it.1235

I have lost it; I can always get it back by going to the Select menu, Load Selection, and there is Shoreline 1, and it's back.1240

We have saved ourselves some time, there.1251

Now, let's move over to the right side of the image, and the shoreline--we have a problem right here; we didn't want to select the...we didn't want that tree, because it's in front, and so is this.1253

We're going to go back now and change tools.1269

Lasso tool--we're going to use that same feather of 2 on that tool, and remember, Shift to add to a selection; Option/Alt to remove.1272

I'm going to hold down the Option/Alt, and notice the minus sign that appears next to the cursor; all I have to do is draw around that piece of tree, and it removes it.1284

Spacebar, Option/Alt, and I remove that little piece, and I've fixed it.1297

Now we need to add, because we need to go up the hill.1303

Shift, start inside the selection, come back; and now, I can follow the tree line, adding--and I'm going to make a mistake, and I'm just going to ignore it.1306

Just keep going; we'll fix it later.1318

When you run out of comfort room, just go up and over, and add a piece to your selection.1322

We'll look at it as a mask, and you see that I made a mistake right down here; so, we're going to fix that right now.1330

We're going to go back to the Lasso tool; I want to take that out, or remove it: Option/Alt; there is the minus again; I'll start outside and just surround the mistake and take it out--it's that simple.1338

Now, I want to add more--shift to add; start inside, and just follow along the horizon line on the hill, and when I run out of comfort, come around and add another piece to my selection--shift to add.1352

Come in, up and around the tree, and add another small piece.1370

Shift to add; you notice how easy this is--just keep adding pieces to your selection--and now, I think I have enough that I can pretty much get to the end, and there we have added that much.1376

Notice that I have one piece left: shift to add, and just select around that; go outside your image, and come back, and we'll take a look at it as a mask.1392

Lo and behold, we have the complete selection done!1404

Now what I'm going to do is go to the Select menu, save that selection (because it took time--we don't want to mess it up), hit the selection dropdown, and I'm replacing the partial one (Shoreline 1) and clicking OK.1407

I'll deselect right now, and I'll show you that, when we go to this Select, and Load (and the Replace Selection is the entire selection).1422

Now what we do--we have this; let's go to the Enhance menu, Lighting, Levels, and here we go--let's fix up that whole thing.1432

Command/Control+H to hide the crawling ants, and we're going to darken down the sky, and we're going to snap the contrast on that shoreline, and we're going to bring it up a little bit.1443

Look at that now--isn't that great?--we'll click OK, and we'll do before and after, and let's go ahead and look at that shoreline and see how it looks with a 2-pixel feather.1457

We're going to undo it and redo it; look at the transition on the shoreline.1472

You can't even see it--no evidence right there; the shoreline was about 2 pixels soft--undo, redo--it blended beautifully--no harsh line.1478

Let's go over to the hillside and take a look at that and see how we did along the tree line.1490

Undo, Redo; again, the 2 pixels of feather allowed us to make that transition perfectly.1498

With our History panel, we can go all the way back to this point right here, which is where we had the dirty ocean and the washed-out sky.1506

By using a large feather of a hundred and forty something, we fixed the cove; and by using a 2-pixel feather to make a selection, we fixed up the entire image.1517

Now, we'll show it to you as a before and after, and look at the smooth blends in both areas.1531

There you have it--the value of feather; what it is, how to use it in large feather and small feather.1542

Remember, the small feather is for just softening the edge a little bit; the large feather is for a smooth blend.1555

We'll keep using this as we move forward.1562

Make a mistake--notice how easy it was to correct your mistakes, save your selections, and get a quick, efficient, and flawless result in your images.1564

I'll see you back in the next lesson, and we're going to discuss the Refine Edge dialogue box.1575