82. Soften the Edge of a Selection
Before You Begin
70 About Making Selections
78 Expand or Shrink a Selection
79 Add Areas Similar to the Current Selection
80 Smooth a Jagged Selection Edge
You can modify a selection to include a fuzzy border along the edge using the Feather command. When you feather a selection, the edge of the image appears to be almost transparent in contrast to the background. Feathering a selection is often preferable when you intend to copy the selection and place it on a different background, or to fade the edge of a selection gradually to white or black, creating a old-fashioned photographic vignette. Feathering is also preferred when you intend to change the color or tone of the data or apply a filter or effect, and you want the resulting data to blend into surrounding pixels. By feathering the edges of the selection, the edges seem softer and appear to fade into whatever background on which you place the object.
When you feather the selection within your image, you will not see the feathering in the selection itself. For example, if you feather the edge of a selection by 10 pixels, the marquee will shrink by that amount to surround only the area of fully selected pixels. If you copy or cut the data and then paste the selection into another image or onto another layer however, you'll notice that the copied data includes the partially selected pixels outside the marquee where the feathering occurred.
Setting the Feather value in the Options bar when you make the initial selection with the Lasso or Marquee tools does the same thing as opening the Feather Selection dialog box after the selection has already been made. See 70 About Making Selections for more information on making selections.
The Magic Wand and Selection Brush tools do not allow you to specify feathering on the Options bar, although the Selection Brush does enable you to lower the Hardness of its tip, which creates the same effect as feathering. For the Magic Wand, however, you must add feathering after the fact by following the steps in this task.
Make First Selection
Open the image you want to mask in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, choose the layer that contains the data you want to select and use any of the selection tools (the Marquee, Magic Wand, Lasso, or Selection Brushor any of their variations) to select an area in the open image.
Choose Select, Feather from the menu bar to display the Feather Selection dialog box.
Set Feather Radius
In the Feather Radius field, type a value larger than 0 to indicate the number of pixels inside the marquee that will be used to create a fuzzy border around the selection. Click the OK button to close the Feather Selection dialog box.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the selection, make changes to the area within the selection, copy or cut its data to another image or layer, or delete the data within the selection. Save the PSD file and then resave the file in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
In this example, I created a heart-shaped selection and then opened the Feather Selection dialog box and used a Feather Radius value of 10 pixels. After setting the feathering, I copied the selection by selecting Image, Copy and then opened a new image with a white background where I pasted the selection (Edit, Paste) to create a traditional photographic vignette effect. I applied the Red, White, Blue Contrast layer style to the white layer to jazz it up a bit. Notice that the edges of the selection appear to blend into the background.