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How do I smooth out an edge of a selection using Quick Select and Refine Edges?

Mar 7, 2012 10:18 AM

Im trying to get used to using Quick Select and Refine edges to mask out objects in my photos.

It works pretty well but Im still having trouble in some spots getting the edge to be a smooth curve.

How do you get the refine edge function to allow you to modify its edge so you can have a perfectly smooth edge?

Ive tried using the Refine Radius Tool and it just doesnt smooth it out completely.


What else can  try?


Screen shot 2012-03-07 at 1.10.41 PM.png

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 7, 2012 11:14 AM   in reply to thomasbricker

    You will never get it smooth unless you have a HQ picture.  The pixels are discrete blocks and the lower the resolution the larger the pixels.  So as you try to refine the edge you can only do as good as the picture will allow.


    Check out this video in masking and refine edge. toshop-cs5/

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  • Trevor Dennis
    5,826 posts
    May 24, 2010
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    Mar 7, 2012 11:50 AM   in reply to thomasbricker

    But using high values of Smooth and Contrast in Refine edge is going to do a reasonable job.  Otherwise, use the Pen tool to follow the outline, but cut a few corners and make it smooth as you need.  Turn the resulting Path into a selection, and use the Clone tool to fill in the gaps inside the line - invert the selection, and repeat for outside the line.

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  • Noel Carboni
    23,455 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Mar 7, 2012 12:06 PM   in reply to thomasbricker

    Refine Edges is actually intended to help you blend things into the background, so it may well make your edges LESS smooth.


    Perhaps you should show a screen grab of what's actually going wrong for you.


    Sometimes, if you're putting an object originally shot on a light background in front of a dark background, the eye/brain can spot the incongruity of the lighting, but there are some things you can do to help with that (e.g., push the Decontaminate Colors control way up).



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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 7, 2012 2:21 PM   in reply to thomasbricker

    Hi Thomas.


    This is a piece of cake if I was using the pen tool and turning my path into a selection.


    True. You might try a hybrid scheme like I use. I create photo montages all the time using the Quick Select Tool. I've done thousands. I refine the edge with an action. (One of a suite of actions I use for this work.) It smooths the the selection and then converts it to a path then a vector mask, which can be edited with the Direct Selection Tool (A). This elimates the feathered selections. And I don't have to draw the whole path with the Pen Tool. About half the time I need to adjust the mask. The other times rest, it's good as is. Depends on the contrast with the background. I use a Tolerance of 2 px most of the time when converting from a selection to a path. This varies with the circumstance. Something to think about in addition to mastering Refine Edge.


    One other cheat I've learned. A barely perceptible amount of Bevel/Emboss and/or maybe Drop Shadow with the light aligned correctly can do wonders on troublesome edges when composing images. Quicker than perfecting the edge. Mileage varies according to content. Refining edges and composing is as much  Black Art as Science. The best tools and methods will depend very much on the content of the images and exactly what you're trying to do with them. I realize you are focusing on mastering the Refine Edge tool, and of course that's good strategy and time well spent. I run CS3, and Refine Edge isn't as spiffy as in CS5, so not as useful.






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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 8, 2012 2:15 PM   in reply to thomasbricker

    Try zero radius, no smart radius, increase the contrast quite a bit then smooth it to the desired degree. Youll have to use the refine radius tool to paint on the radius where you dont want a such a smoothed selection. I dont think you can change the shape of a selection only add or remove radius with the paint brush and eraser thingy while the refine edge box is open. If its not working for me I hit the cancel button and change the selection in quick mask mode then go back to refine edge.

    So in summary too much radius, then what Trevor said(bearing in mind whay Noel said)

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