I am trying to soften the hard edges of a photo, ideally where they soften out to a transparent edge.
I have gone through the whole list of effects and can't find anything. The Help menu, of course, is silent.
Is there a way to do this?
1. Duplicate the Background layer and turn off the visibility of the Background layer.
2. On the duplicate layer, draw your border with the Rectangular Marquee tool.
3. Invert and feather the selection. In my example I used 20 px, but it will depend on the dimensions of your pic.
4. <Delete> the selection.
Note that you can omit the duplicate layer if you rename the Background layer to anything else and work on that.
How do I duplicate background layer? I have the graphic up on a new
file, but not sure what to do than Layer>Duplicate -- but not sure if
that is what you mean by "duplicate background."
"Invert and feather selection" Did i have to select something? Do you
mean the picture or the border?
"Delete the section?" Isn't the selection the picture itself?
This is why I get confused...sorry.
I'll go into more detail. These instructions and screen shot are for PC and PSE version 2, so things may be a bit different in your version or if you have a Mac.
To duplicate the Background layer:
From the Menu bar: Layer > Duplicate Layer, or you can right-click the layer in the Layers Palette and select "Duplicate Layer".
To turn of visibility of the Background layer, click the eye icon in the Layers Palette to toggle it off.
Choose the Rectangular Marquee tool and draw the border within the picture, as in this screnshot:
This actually selects the portion of the picture inside the border, not the border itself. To select just the border you need to invert the selection. From the Menu bar: Select > Inverse (or Shift-Ctrl-I).
Now you need to feather the selection to get the softened edges and transparency. From the Menu bar: Select > Feather.
Now <Delete> (or Edit > Delete, or Ctrl-X). This creates the soft-to-transparent (checkered background) border on the duplicate layer.
If you are going to import the picture into a graphic application or web page where you need the transparent border, you must save the picture in a format that supports transparency. File types PSD, TIFF, PNG, PNG-24, GIF, EPS support transparency. JPG, BMP do not. For a web page you probably want GIF.
I followed your instruction exactly, but Select>Inverse was not an
option. It is subdued as if not allowed.
When I draw the rectangular border, it colored the center the
foreground color. Is that the problem?
Sorry, I had used the rectangle icon, not the rectangle marquee tool.
Got that right now, but...
But even after I did that, I still could not get your effect.
I did what you said about clicking on the eye, but it did not change
the image in the file window, if it was supposed to do that.
1. I drew the rectangle, inverted the selection (although nohting
obvious happened with the image.)
2. Feathered the selection (not sure what selection given above, but
nothing happened when I did it. It looks exactly the same)
3. When I tried to delete it, again nothing happened.
I probably am doing something wrong with layers?
After you did the delete of the inverted/feathered selection, did your duplicate layer in the Layers Palette look like the one in my example, i.e., have the transparent border? All I can think of at this point is that the Background layer is still visible. If that is the case, then the Background layer will show through the transparency and the next result is you see no change even though you did make changes. Make sure you toggle off the visibility eye in the Background layer, not the duplicate layer. If that is not your problem it would help if you took a screen shot of the the file and Layers Palette and upload it to www.pixentral.com.
Another thing to try. I had mentioned that you can make your changes directly on the original picture layer (Background) rather than making a duplicate layer. However you must first rename the Background to anything else. Then do the select/invert/feather/delete and see if that works.
The reason for renaming is that when you delete something from the layer named "Background" the deleted stuff is not transparent but filled in with the color defined in the current background color swatch at the bottom of the toolbar.
I do not understand layers. I am desperate for a tutorial or reference
to help explain it.
However...I did exactly as you said. Whether some layer is visible or
not i really can't say until I better understand what a layer is.
I did click on the eye to the left of the background layer you had me
create. That is all I know. It did not appear to change anything.
If I select the original layer (not the background one I created) and
then hit delete, at least something happens. but...what happens is I
get a blurred edge around the photo in the color of the background
color in the color palette. It is not transparent.
What layer is supposed to be selected when I do the delete?
I understood is was supposed to be the background layer copy, not the
Not sure if you are still hanging in with me on this.
By trial and error (and I'm not sure what I did), I kept clicking back
and forth on the eye on the two layers and finally got something that
looked in the file window like your sample.
However, when I saved it for the web -- GIF with transparency checked
-- it saved it with a white blurred border, not transparent.
I did your shorter method making the changes just on the original
picture layer (yes, I renamed it). It worked fine (easier than the
other way), but when I again saved it for web as a GIF with
transparency checked, there was the white background again, not the
transparency. I sent
To resize the PSE window, click the Restore Down icon at the top right corner. This should shrink the PSE window somewhat. Then you can drag any corner handle to resize it.
I have an idea of why you are seeing no changes using the duplicate layer method. Maybe you are turning off the visibility of the Background layer late in the game. You should turn off its visibility immediately after you create the duplicate layer. Like I said in my previous post, if the Background layer is visible it will show through any transparency in the duplicate layer and the net effect is no change.
You said making the changes on the renamed Background layer worked, but when you saved it a gif the transparency turned to white. I don't know how this could happen. Again, it would help if you can upload to www.pixentral.com a screen shot of the picture and Layers Palette after you have made all your changes. Also, a screenshot using the duplicate layer method if you still have problems with that.
There should be a layers tutorial somewhere in your PSE Help. Which version are you using? A Google search of "photoshop layers tutorial" or similar will turn up a wealth of info.
Here's one way to visualize layers:
Remember your old biology textbook? There was a page showing a blank outline of the human body. On top of that page was a mylar sheet showing the skeletal system. On top of that another mylar with the muscular system. Another with the cirulatory sytem, another with some organs, etc. Equating this to PSE, the bottom page (body outline) is the Background layer, and the mylars are the layers above it. The transparent portions of the mylars are equivalent to the transparent portions of the PSE layers. So the result of what you are seeing is a combination of all, viewed from the top layer in the stack to the bottom layer. Removing a mylar is equivalent to turning off a layer's visibility. Rearranging the mylars is equivilant to rearranging the order of the PSE layers.
As always, thank you for your help.
I did turn off visibility immediately after creating the duplicate
layer. I don't know what anything should "look like" after that step,
other than the eye icon goes away. When you say "if the Background
layer is visible" -- what does that mean in terms of what I should be
seeing in the working window? When I click the eye icon, nothing
changes in the working window.
I did upload the two screen shots last night of what it looks like
when I save it as a GIF. Is there some other way to show you what I am
There are no more tutorials (at least not video) on the PSE6 site.
They are marked as unavailable.
I do understand the concept of layers, but i do not understand how
that translates to what is actually happening in PSE. I need to spend
more time with some resource that explains it better than PSE does it
Hope this note gives you further insight into what I am facing.
re: resizing window.
The only options on the top right are:
I was referring to the Restore Down icon at the very top blue bar. On my PC (Windows XP), this bar has the title "Adobe Photoshop Elements" and there are 3 icons on the right edge of the bar. They are Minimize, Restore Down, and Close. These are the same on all Windows XP applications, not just PSE.
Sorry, you mean the url of the site where i downloaded.
What are you demonstrating in the picture you posted in message 22? It doesn't appear to have anything to do with the discussion.
Are you sure it was the Interlaced box that worked? I tried the Save for Web option, saving as a gif, and I got a white background with Interlaced both checked and unchecked. I don't think interlaced has anything to do with transparency. Here is the definition from my PSE Help: Check Interlaced to create an image that displays as low-resolution versions in a browser while the full image file is downloading. Interlacing can make downloading time seem shorter and assures viewers that downloading is in progress.
I noticed that my Wave for Web Matte option has the default value of "White". When I changed this to "none" I did get the transparency.
You can also save the file via File > Save As. Select the gif option from the Format list and then check the transparency box and set Matte to "None".
Did you ever get the duplicate layer method to work?
Thanks for your continuing help.
I am attaching a screen shot that might yield some clues, but first,
here is my exact process, as well as the alternative methods:
1. Created new background layer and turned off the visibility on the
2. Used rectangle tool and drew box around area of photo I want to show.
4. Layer>Feather. I have tried different ranges for this. I try to go
as large as I can before i get the warning about 50% pixels not
5. Delete. Note now the ant crawls that remain over part of the
picture. Not sure what they mean.
6. Save for Web. Yes, you are right, it is not "interlace." I had
clicked that and thought it was the answer since the graphic started
to look right. But i had also clicked PNG-24, which as it turns out
does work -- kind of. It is the ONLY option on the list that gives me
the transparency (Yes, I tried GIF with transparency checked and it
still comes out with a white border. I also tried your more recent GIF
w/ no matte and it was weird. I am attaching that screen shot as well,
but notice the left-over ant crawls from earlier seem to be having
some influence on that.)
7. I did not have problems with most of my other graphics going
through this process to my website, but this one has been troublesome.
The transparency does not seem to fade to 100% opacity. I can still
see a grayish edge on it. I don't know why it is doing that. I am
sending that screen shot as well.
Sorry, I thought you could get them through the e-mail response.
This first one shows me in mid-stream with the process. Not the oddly
shaped ant crawls around the picture. Also, I noted that the original
background image (not the copy) is locked and does not unlock. Not
sure if that is part of the problem or not.
This shot is what happens when I do your "no matte" method. Note that
the weird any crawls have some effect on this. However, even still,
there is not a good faded edge on the photo.
This is what I get most of the time using the method I outlined
earlier -- close to working but the edge does not fade fully to
transparency -- it faces for a while but then the opacity returns as
it nears the edge. As a result, I do not get the nice "fade to black"
i am looking for when I put this photo on the black background of my
This last one is to prove I'm not totally nuts. These photos came out
fine. Not every photo on the other pages is as good as these, but
something is affecting the results for each photo, even though I have
worked very hard to ensure I ma using the same steps each time.
Hope this helps the diagnosis.
Great, thanks. Very generous of you.
Here it is.
I want to mention again that, while most photos were okay, some were
not. This is not the only photo that had the residual gray frame
around it (where the edges did not fade totally to 0% opacity), so I
must be doing something wrong in the method.
Just to let you know, I'm ripping right along now, thanks to your
help. I just had to fiddle with PhotoShop (for Mac!) settings until I
got the hang of doing the transparency dissolves correct. All the
photos now look great.
One more way you might try:
1. Make the rectangular selection on the original Background layer.
2. Do not invert the selection, but do feather it as before.
3. Copy the selection to the clipboard (Edit > Copy).
4. File > New from Clipboard. This creates a new file with the transparency, but with reduced dimensions.
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