Refine Edge – Selection


How to refine the edge of a selection?

The initial process of making a selection won’t always render a perfect result. We need our retouching to be seamless and by refining our selections we can make our retouching perfectly integrated or invisible. For example in the image we will look at in this tutorial, you may be able to make a good selection around the model however her hair is a far more difficult area to make an accurate selection around. This is certainly an area that we will need to understand how to refine the edge of a selection. Imagine having to select each strand of hair, this would take an incredibly long time and still may not look realistic. We can use refine edge to complete the selection perfectly and more importantly quickly and easily.

Introducing selection Refine Edge

refine edge selection interface and how to use it.

To refine the edge of your selection you first need to make an initial selection. As demonstrated in selection basics we explored the various selection tools. Every image may require a different selection tool or even several selection tools to create your initial selection. However you can go a further step and then perfect your selection using the Refine Edge option. Once you have created a selection the best you can then click the refine edge option and explore the various options.

There are 4 parts to the refine edge interface.

  • View Mode- This will allow you to view your selection against several different backgrounds, great as a live preview to see the changes you make.
  • Edge Detection-This will allow you to control how sensitive the brush is when using it to do things such as finding what should and shouldn’t be selected.
  • Adjust Edge- we have 4 options here that can powerfully adjust your selection. Smooth will remove jiggered edges and smooth them, feather will soften the edge of the selection, removing a hard edge making a graduated effect from what is and isn’t selected. Contrast will help to define the edges of where a subject is separated from the background and shift edge will move your selection by either growing or shrinking it.
  • Output- Once you are satisfied with your selection you can choose how you want the selection to be outputted from Refine Edge, you can output the selection to a layer mask or a new layer with a layer mask or just output it as a selection. We will demonstrate this in the below video.


Key points for refining selections

  • To refine edge of a selection you need to first have an active selection.
  • Alter the view mode so you can see exactly how you are adjusting your selection.
  • Outputting to a layer mask is always better than erasing areas you don’t want.
  • when creating your initial selection don’t be afraid to utilise several selection tools.
  • If you don’t get it right the first time then hit cancel and try it again.
  • You can always zoom in and zoom out using Command + and – respectively.
  • Remember to alter the size of your selection brush using your bracket keys [ ].