Learn how to refine the edge of an image using refine edge command in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
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Alright now that we have gotten our selection made pretty well here on this guitar, what we are going to do now is we are going to use Refine Edge to really fine-tune the selection. So in order to get into the Refine Edge dialog box just simply come up to the Options bar, click Refine Edge and you will get this nice dialog box here. And what we are going to do, I am going to zoom back out, by the way, I am just doing that by using Command+- on the Mac, Ctrl+- on the PC. And what you get inside Refine Edge is essentially a preview of the mask that you are generating here. So you can see this on a white background like you are viewing here, you can see it in Mask Mode which is essentially that Alpha Channel that we created earlier. You can also it on a black background, you can also see it in the Quick Mask Mode which shows you how it would look in Quick Mask which is also identical to how we combine the Alpha Channel with that RGB Composite to show you how it would look as a mask as well.
Now we are going to get into exactly how to use Quick Mask Mode a little bit later in this series, but this gives you an idea of what it's going to look, how do you use Quick Mask Mode with that rubylift overlay and things like that. So you could also see it as an active selection which is just exactly what you were seeing earlier before you got into Refine Edge. So I am not going to choose to do that now. I am going to actually select to use this on a black background for now. And if I pan around in here you can just bring your tool in here and pan around, you will see that we have done a fairly decent job of selecting this object.
Now we do have some traces of that path that we drew earlier with the Pin Tool, that's totally okay, that's not messing with anything on our selection, that's just there because we didn't delete it from our Paths Palette earlier. So we don't have to worry about that right now, we are just worried about the edge of the selection which is actually really good considering the amount of differences between the edges and this background here. So let's go ahead, we will keep going up here. You'll notice we did select some of those portions at the top that were chrome and we didn't do too bad of a job, there is a little bit of white area up in there that we missed, we didn't even try these because they were getting a little bit too tricky. But for the most part it did a fairly decent job on all of these different areas here.
Now modifying your selections is really easy inside of Refine Edge simply because of the fact that you get this live preview of exactly what you are doing here. For instance if you wanted to increase the contrast on this, you can just go ahead and crank that up a little bit, that's just going to increase the light values and the dark values around the edges of this selection to create a more harsh edge all the way around this image. So it's taking the lighter areas and making them extremely light, the darker areas making them darker, that's why you saw a lot of that area right in there go away. For instance if I turn that back, you will notice a lot of those little gray areas and areas that might be a little bit faded, you see those come back when I take the contrast down.
Now smooth is also a very decent command because it will take a lot of those aliased edges which is going to take those and smooth out those jagged edges so that you have a more smooth selection. So if I go ahead and crank this up a little bit you see already the edges get a little bit smoother around there. If I take it back a little bit there, you see there is some jaggedness happening right up there on the top but smoothing those out there is a really great job. I am just creating a nice smooth contour all the way around that image.
Now feathering is another command that a lot of people have used for a long time inside of Photoshop, and for years you just had to guesstimate as to what number you entered into the feathering amount. But now thankfully they have this as a visual transformation so you can actually see the amount of feathering that you are getting here. So for instance if I wanted to feather this pretty significantly I could push that up and there you see the feathered edge goes out into the image a little bit. Feathering is essentially just softening the edge of the selection so that it's not as harsh between the subject matter and whatever background that you are trying to separate it from.
So feathering just kind of softens it up a little bit, makes it more of a smooth transition from the masked object into the background. That comes in handy when you are blending objects into one another, not so much of good thing for when you are trying to silhouette objects as we are trying to do here.
Now the next thing you can do is contract and expand the selection so that just means that you are going to do exactly what it says, contract it inward or expand it outward. This is pretty handy in and of itself to help kind of clean up some of those edges, get rid of some of those extra little areas of gray that you might have had there.
Now I am going to go ahead, I am going to zoom back out all the way here just to get a better understanding of exactly what our selection looks like. And by looking at it like this you see we have done a really decent job of selecting this guitar. So once I have everything like I needed to be here, I can go ahead then and click OK and it jumps right back into Photoshop and gives me back my original image with my active selection all the way around it.
So now that we have got out selection fine tuned we are ready to take this image and drag it over into another image to kind of composite it with another scene entirely.