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Feathered Edges in Photoshop

So many people are amazed on how wonderful images look with blurred edges, and they have no idea how EASY it is to do it. It is called a feathered edge in PhotoShop. You can use feathered images singularly, or you can add many together to get a wonderful collage that melts seamlessly together! You can feather with the Octagonal and Rectangular tool, or you can use the Lasso Tools. In this lesson, I will use the lasso tools, but the image above was made with the Octagonal tool. These images may take a while to load, but I wanted to make sure that they are very visual…for demonstration purposes.

One site I love for learning is the, great tutorials for Photoshop and other stuff.

Introduction to Lasso Tools

Lasso Tool

Lasso ToolYou can draw directly with this tool, or you can hold down the ALT key when drawing. It will change the tool into the polygonal tool, but you won’t be required to draw in one motion. This will “keep your place” as you draw. One you hold down the ALT key, you will be changed to the polygonal tool, so it will begin drawing in a straight line if you move your too outward. If you just keep holding your mouse button down, it will continue to draw with the regular lasso tool. To finish a selection, you must complete the shape by bringing the end of the around to the beginning.

Polygonal Lasso

Polygonal Lasso ToolThis tool simply lets you draw in straight lines. You can hold down the ALT key to get the same effect as when you did with the regular Lasso tool. You then can combine the effects as before. As with all of the lasso tools, you can use them to select images with or without a feathered edge.

Magnetic Lasso

Magnetic Lasso ToolThe magnetic lasso will magnetize to the most obvious shapes. In this case it will stick to the couple and their silhouette. You can change the options to change effects for more complex images. When drawing with the tool, it will make “points” as it draws along. An easy way to direct it along is to click as you go along once you see the tool is going in the right direction. To finish a selection, you must complete the shape by bringing the end of the around to the beginning.

Options for Lasso

You can set the options in this area. The first project will be set to five pixels. Changing this number will alter the width of the feathered selection. If this window is not visible, then choose WINDOW-SHOW OPTIONS to make it appear.

First Image

First, you will want to find the image that you want to feather. Next choose a background or color you want to place your image on. In this case, I used a hot pink photo, and chose a light orange background to put the image on. This brings out a color in the skin tones of the couple. Using the lasso tool, you can draw a shape around the area you wish to select. Again, to finish a selection, you must complete the shape by bringing the end of the around to the beginning point. If you screw up, simply redraw after you complete the shape. You MUST set the feather specs before you select your image. Changing it after you have selected the image will not work.

Two samples

Next, copy it EDIT-COPY, create a new document to preserve your original image, FILE-NEW. Fill the background color with the color you have selected as your foreground color, in this case orange, EDIT-FILL-FOREGROUND COLOR. Now you will select EDIT-PASTE to paste it into a new layer above the background layer. There are keyboard shortcuts to all of the above, you can find them listed on Adobe’s web site. Above is two different versions of the feathered image. The first is set at 5 pixels and the second is at 10 pixels. As you can see, on is slightly wider than the other. The image was selected ten pixels out from the part we selected with the lasso tool.

This last image was selected with the magnetic lasso tool, with specifications of 20 pixels wide. The magnetic lasso tool has different settings that you can experiment with. By holding down the ALT key you can utilize the other lasso tools during your selection. Remember to stay far within the edges if you have your settings above 5-10. The image will only leave a hard edge otherwise. If you have a hard edge, try using the blur tool, or selecting part of the image with the lasso tool, and a setting of 5 and hitting the delete key to soflty delete parts of the image. Or, try choosing a wide airbrush, setting it’s option’s opacity to 20-50% in the options window and use it as a tool to hide hard edges or unwanted areas. In this case using a wide airbrush with a orange color as the selected color, could hide mistakes. Remember, experimentation is always a wonderful thing! Never work with your only copy of an image. Duplicate it if you feel a bit paranoid by choosing IMAGE-DUPLICATE to be on the safe side….happy feathering!

Feathered last

Author: Gina Hutchings
Copyright Lunar Media Inc
Chicago Web Design

2 thoughts on “Feathered Edges in Photoshop

  1. Hi, your site is very interesting. I would like to know how to make an Oval shape feathering border.

    Thank You!

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