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Refine Edges in Photoshop

Photoshop with its incredibly advanced tools has empowered photographers and digital artists to set their imagination free and produce exceptional art. One of these amazing tools is the Refine edge tool. This tool helps make fine and perfect selections. Making selections is usually the most consistent part of an editing process. If the selections are precise, then your editing process will go a lot smoother. Selecting without the refine edge tool can work until the object is not too complicate. However, if you have to select complicated objects such as hairs, then knowing how to Refine Edges in Photoshop is a must. Let us go through the whole process of making accurate selections with the assistance of the Refine Edge Tool in Photoshop.

How to Refine Edges in Photoshop:

We recommend you to practice along as you learn from this guide. So, open Photoshop and get ready to become a professional in the selection and refining of the edges of objects. For the first few times, use photos with a simpler background. As you learn and get better at it, then move towards more complex photos.

Step 1 – Selection

Firstly, we will need to make a rough selection that we are going to work on later. Photoshop includes various tools that you can use for this purpose. Quick selection tool can work out fine for simpler subjects; however, you can also use the object selection tool or the magic wand tool. Make sure that the entire subject is selected and no major part is left out.

Step 2 – Refine Edge Tool

If you are a beginner, then finding where is refine edge tool in Photoshop can be difficult at first. The recent updates also have changed the position of this tool. Here is what you need to do.

The first step is to head to the select menu, then click on the ‘Select and Mask’ option. After that, you will be able to see the refine edge window opened on your screen.

Step 3 – View Mode

The next step is to select a view mode for the refine edge tool. The criteria for selecting a specific mode will depend on the colors in the image. As we suggested earlier, if you are using a photo with a simpler background for this practice, then this part will be easier.

The procedure we are going to follow will be flawless if the photo has a white background. You can also experiment with other modes to see what goes best with your photo.

Refine edges in Photoshop of a portrait

Step 4 – Adjusting the Edges

Usually, by this step, the selection has been made. However, it is anywhere not near to a perfect selection. For instance, if you are editing a portrait, the hair selection will look a little rough. We will adjust the edges to cope with this problem.

Adjusting the radius in the initial step will let us observe that how much work is left. Move the slider towards the right in order to make the edges soft. Increasing the radius will also make the selection of the edges look more natural. The work is not done here. Now we will move towards the other sliders on this panel.

The smooth slider, as the name shows, is going to smooth the edges even more. Try to keep it low or it can mess up the selection on detailed parts. The contrast slider will work on the shadows and also pop up the details in the photo. The Shift Edge slider lets you expand or shrink the selection that you already have. The last slider on this panel is the Feather slider. Similarly, to the smooth slider, you should also keep this one low as it can blend the selections with the background.

Step 5 – Refining Selection

The Refine edge tool might not always make perfect selections. If such is the case, then you will need to refine the selection in an alternative way.

Choose the Quick Selection tool from the panel. Here you will be manually removing and adding areas to your selection. In order to add press Shift+left click and Alt+left to do the opposite. If the selection is still not precise, then the Lasso tool will be our final choice. You can choose between the Lasso, Magnetic Lasso, and Polygon Lasso tool.

Step 6 – Output

The final step is to decontaminate colors and get the output. On the refine edge panel, you will see the ‘output’ section. In order to finalize the selection select one of the output options. Choosing the ‘new layer’ will prevent losing the original image.

Conclusion - Refine Edges in Photoshop

The procedure is most suitable for simpler and plain backgrounds. However, you can also use the same steps for complicated backgrounds. You will just need to perform a few alterations. The key is to practice until you become a professional in it. Moreover, as we suggested, start with less complicated backgrounds and then move towards the difficult ones. 

Always keep learning.

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