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Refine Edge, Part 1

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 0:06
  • Refine Edge Demonstration 1 1:35
    • Part 1: Making & Saving a Selection
    • Part 2: Refine Edge Dialogue Box
    • Part 3: Refine Edge View Mode
    • Part 4: Edge Detection & Smart Radius
    • Part 4: Compositing a New Sky
  • Lesson Summary 15:42

Transcription: Refine Edge, Part 1

Hi, everyone--Mike Brown back with you with another lesson in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 from!0000

We've been talking, in the past couple of lessons, about the most important technique in Photoshop Elements, and that is selecting areas and isolating them to make corrections, and making them blend perfectly with the rest of the image, which allows you to take your images to an entirely new level, beyond just overall corrections, by fixing isolated spots.0006

In the last lesson, we talked about feather, which is the width and softness of a selection edge, and how you can use a very tight, smooth edge along a clean line to make a perfect transition there, or make a very wide feather to allow a very gradual blend into an area for a soft transition, so that all of your corrections blend flawlessly in your image.0032

In this lesson: adjusting selections with Refine Edge, which is a dialogue box that allows you a lot of control over the basic selection that you make.0059

We're first going to do a quick review of feather; then, we're going to take a look at the Refine Edge dialogue box and show you how to modify a selection with Refine Edge and how to use Refine Edge.0071

This is select fine details, such as hair, which was an impossibility up until Adobe Photoshop Elements 11--a really cool feature.0083

Let's get started!0095

Here is a photo, right here; we're going to just do a quick selection of the sky.0098

This is you think of it: obviously, the Marquee tools are out; obviously, you're not going to use any of the Lasso tools to try to go along that edge; it would take you too long.0103

So, it puts us down to the Selection brush (which you're not going to paint that edge with--it takes too long; you might do a little correcting); we have the Quick Selection tool or the Magic Wand.0112

The Quick Selection tool, if you remember, looks for contrast based on color, and the Magic Wand searches for areas of similar color.0124

Let's try it with the Quick Selection tool first.0133

We adjust our brush size--you want to go down to a fairly small brush size, and stay in the area beyond the edge; you don't want to touch the edge.0136

We're looking for sky, so we'll just take and drag along the sky, and you notice what happened: it dropped down inside the mountains.0143

Let's take a closer look and see what happened.0152

It happened because there were clear transition areas here, because of the darkness and the blue; clear over here, because of the white and the blue; but right in this area, as the mountains went from no snow to a very, very light dust of snow, the edge is ill-defined.0156

So, it dropped down, and then it went for the next area.0175

We could try Option/Alt, make a slightly smaller brush, and drag back through that area to see if we can get everything else corrected.0179

It might work; pull up into here; in fact, I think that is doing a pretty good job.0192

We drag back along there, and generally, we have a good selection.0203

But, we could have done it better; in this case, it's pretty obvious that the Magic Wand that looks for areas of similar color--the sky is very similar; slight gradient; so, we'll take the Magic Wand with a low tolerance.0208

High tolerance, to the past, they only let you go to 64, and that would select almost everything.0221

About 20--roughly in that area--is a good place to start.0229

We'll see what happens: click in the middle of the sky, and look: the band of color is almost the entire sky--just a little bit was missed.0233

Now, it's automatically on the add, so if I click here, it expands down; click here--it expands up.0241

Let's zoom up and take a close look at the edge: it got a little inside, so we'll switch to the Quick Selection tool, drop that down (it's on minus), and see if we can pull that area out of there.0249

Again, it's that same spot where that transition was a little edgy.0263

Not bad--we have a pretty good job; let's look at it with the Selection Brush as a mask.0268

We can see a little raggedness right in there, but we'll correct that.0274

Let's come out to a selection, and what we want to do...0278

First of all, let me look at that mask, and let me show you the edge; it's pretty harsh; you can see it, and it just needs (especially right up in here--you see it) some feather.0281

So, we'll go back to the selection; we know what it's like; let's hide the selection--Command/Control+H; and you see, it's a smooth edge.0295

Let's go--we have no feather on this one; you notice we have no feather here--we have Refine Edge; we also have Refine Edge here; we have feather here, but that is applying the feather before you make the selection.0302

We already have the selection, so what do we do?0317

No problem: we just go up to the Select menu, come down, and there is feather.0320

This is after-you-make-the-selection feather adjustment.0327

We're going to punch in one pixel of feather, and take a look at that under the selection brush as a mask, and there you see that we have a nice, smooth 1-pixel edge that pretty much looks like the edge of the mountain where it meets the sky.0331

Pretty quick corrections on there, and 1-pixel that gives you an idea, if you remember, of how the feather works.0355

We did a selection; we added and subtracted a little bit; we tried two different tools, and we did some feather and got a really nice selection.0363

One thing to remember: now that you have worked all this time to make the selection, don't lose it!0370

Go to the Select menu; go to Save Selection, and name it: we're going to name it Sky with Magic Wand 1 Pixel Feather.0376

Now, we know everything we did with that; we click OK; so, if at any time we lose that selection, we can go to the Select menu, Load Selection, and there is our selection.0392

Click OK, and it's back!0403

All right, so that is how to do a fairly easy selection; you have already figured that one out--just a review.0406

Let's move on to the Refine Edge dialogue box.0411

Here we have an image of a nice scene; we would like to select the sky, and probably replace that sky.0415

Let me open up (there we go--it's looking for a sky)--Sky Overcast--there we go--I have it.0424

I'm opening up another image here, and this is a sky that we're going to strip in to this image.0434

How do we do it? This is getting a little ahead, but I'll show you anyway.0442

We're going to need to select the edges of this image (and this is going to be a fun one, because--look at the edge of the trees!--we have blue sky through the trees...through the limbs...all up and down through here).0446

If we try our Quick Selection tool (bring the brush size up just a little bit) and drag it through the sky, it does an OK job only to a point.0458

It got a reasonable selection: let's go to the Selection Brush as a mask, and you can see.0479

It missed on the land; it missed on a lot of the limbs of the trees; but it did a generally good job.0485

In this case, we don't need to mess around much further, because we have the Refine Edge dialogue box, which appears with almost every selection tool.0492

There it is; there it is here; with the Lasso tools, it's there; with the Marquee tools, it's there; the only one that it doesn't show up directly in is the Selection Brush.0504

If you are in there and want to go to it, go to the Select menu; right below feather is the Refine Edge dialogue box.0517

Here you have it: first, we have options for view: marching ants, traditional, the overlay (which we're using--like the mask), on black ( see the actual image, but you see the protected areas in black; you see the actual image here, protected areas in white), a regular black and white mask, just a separate layer only (as the sky and the other layers in the image, but we have none, because it's a background).0524

We'll deal with it as our traditional overlay; we're used to looking at that.0554

There we have that; we also have a Show Radius and Original; we'll talk about that in a minute.0559

Now, there are several things that we can do here: the first thing we want to do is: for other images (we're not going to do it on this one; we'll demonstrate this elsewhere), here are your Adjust Edge features: smoothing, feather (once more--we could have feathered the other one right here), contrast, and Shift Edge (allows you to expand and contract--we'll deal with that in a minute).0563

Output, Decontaminate Colors helps you with hair and fine edges where it's indistinct on colors, to get the accurate selection.0589

You have the option to output as a selection, a mask, a new layer, a layer with a mask, a new document, or a new document with a layer mask.0598

We're dealing only with selection here.0606

Now, we're going to start by dealing with what is called the Edge Detection.0609

The Edge Detection feature looks for what is different between the area that you have already selected (and of course, this works best with uniform--either the object or the background--and in this case, the sky is perfectly uniform), what it's going to look for is the difference between the blue sky and anything else that we tell it to look at.0615

That would be the ground over here or the trees or the open areas in the trees.0639

The way we make this work is: we turn on what is called a Smart Radius.0645

I'll show you that right away: with 0 pixels, there is nothing; as we up the number of pixels, you will begin to see a radius.0654

You see a clear area; that is the width of the area that the computer is going to use to determine what is selected and what is not, as its basis.0663

We're going to tell it to deal with more areas, because we're going to paint them.0677

That is where these two tools come in: this tool is your standard painting brush--a refine radius tool--it expands that radius detection by painting more clear area.0684

The eraser allows you to restore the original edge, so if you have a really smooth edge--I'll demonstrate this one in the next picture; let's just go ahead on here.0697

We're going to take the regular tool, and now that we have (you don't want to put a lot of radius in there, because we're going to add to it), we're going to starting painting in the sky and down into the areas that we want the computer to look, to see what is different between what has already been selected and what I'm painting on, and try to find the areas of sky.0709

We release; it thinks...and look what happened: it picked up (go back; let me...)...this is the area it picked.0735

It missed some in here, and let's try it one more time, with the Show Radius off.0746

I'm just going to paint down into the tree, and come back out, and let it think, and look--it found all of those blue areas.0752

It's just like magic--look at that--it's amazing!0761

Now, we're going to fix the ground; we just paint across the ground, and up into the tree, and the computer found the edge of the ground perfectly--unbelievable!0763

Do the same thing over here, in this section of trees; watch: magic, absolute magic!0774

Now, it cannot go and get everything; it probably won't get this down here, but it will do a pretty good job with everything.0779

Look at the edges, up there where just the fine-edged tree limbs are--absolutely amazing!0786

Every time I see this, it blows me away.0795

Here we go; we'll get down in here and pick up all of these little open spots--look at that--it's just remarkable!0798

It may not get down deep into that tree, but we'll pick up all of these other edges--really great job.0805

Go on down here; it picked up that.0811

Let's zoom out a little bit; we're going to paint through and pick up the ground, and this tree up in here--just painting it over, letting that computer do the work.0817

Look at that--look at that--absolutely amazing!0826

Let's go back down to the other end; we're almost done; paint right down across this tree area, and all of those open branches, and fix what the Quick Selection brush didn't get.0831

Look that--wow--just remarkable!0842

Every time I do this, I don't know how the computer can figure this out--I really don't.0845

Look at that--look at that--unbelievable!0850

It's phenomenal stuff.0853

We have that; we click OK; and it will turn it back into a selection for us.0855

We're going to go to the Select menu, Save Selection, and we'll call it Sky (if I can spell Sky right); we'll click OK.0863

Now, what I'm going to do is show you: here is a sky that I had; we're going to do Command on a Mac/Control on a PC, the letter A to select all, Command on a Mac/Control on a PC, the letter C to copy; go back to our image, and we're going to paste it in--this is kind of a preview lesson on compositing.0873

We're going to go to the Edit, Paste into Selection (that is this selected area); and watch what happens: there comes the sky!0899

We replaced the entire sky; Command/Control+D, and let's zoom it up and take a look around the trees.0909

Look at that--isn't that just amazing, how beautiful the edges are?0917

You cannot tell where that pasted-in piece has been replacing the original sky.0924

That is absolutely remarkable.0935

So, let's go back to our original thing.0939

We took a quick review of feather, and showed you, again, how feather applies, and how you can also access feather from the Select menu, right under here.0942

We looked at the Refine Edge dialogue box just a little bit--we're not done with that one; we're going to do this second lesson in Refine Edge.0957

We showed you how to modify a selection with the Refine Edge, by using the Edge Detection feature, and how to paste in a background when you have the Edge Detection that allows you to select complex edges perfectly--unbelievable!0965