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Refine Edge in Photoshop

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From experience you may know how hard it is to make selections around bike spokes, ropes or furry pimp coats.  Refine Edge is now equipped with Edge Detection, Refine Radius, Adjust Edge and Output tools to help you achieve great results in no time.

Refine Edge was introduced in Photoshop CS3 for the first time, and it is a great way to further improve your selections.  In Photoshop CS5, Refine Edge is taken to a whole new level, and has changed the way selections are made.

To get to Refine Edge make a selection with any of the selection tool and get it as close to the final result as possible.  When you have any of the selection tools…selected, you have Refine Edge in the top menu.  You can also go to Select >> Refine Edge or press Alt+Ctrl+R(PC) and Alt+Cmd+R(mac). 

The first section is View Mode and it is pretty self explanatory.  There are plenty of different ways to view your selection/mask so you can determinate how well you are doing.  The View Mode options do not affect your selections, they just affect the way they are displayed.

The second option is Edge Detection.  It will help you define your edges and improve your selection in no time, just by sliding the slider to the right.  It creates area of transition that includes some background and some foreground.  As long as you don’t over use it, it will improve your selecion.  In the same box you have a radio button called Smart Radius, that will further adapt your selections to the edges and smoothen the transition area.

The next group of tools is called Adjust Edge, and they are pretty much what Refine Edge used to be in the previous versions of Photoshop.  Use these tools to Smooth and Feather the selection.  You can also increase the contrast of the selection so the edges are more defined.  The last slider called Shift Edge is new to refine edge.  Use it to Contract or Expand the selected area.

On the bottom of the Refine Edge dialogue is the Output box.  You can choose between a few different outputs for your selection.  Outputting to a Selection, Layer Mask, New Layer with Layer Mask and a few more.  This makes it convenient and easy for us to move on to the next step and do what we need to do with the current selection.

Refine edge is amazing, get to know it and it is going to become an essential part of your workflow!

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At only 25 years old, Connor has been published in many major international publications and is a signed Getty photographer. His writing and photos have been published in Photoshop User and Light It Magazines, amongst many others. He believes that if you work at what you love, you'll be able to make a great living. Connor currently resides in Edwards, CO with his wife, Kelly, and dog Tucker. You can view his portfolio at www.cnwphoto.com

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