In this tutorial, you will get to know a variety of scenarios of using feather settings in Photoshop selection tool.
Based on softness, smoothness, or hardness we can make a lot of different kinds of designs and even combine both! In the implementation of your creative idea, you may encounter the task of blurring the edge, but not the image of the whole.
What You’ll be Creating
In most cases, we Photoshop feathers settings such as simple collating, and the effect of stylized kind needs. Use it when creating patterns or combine different images. A soft-edged or Feathered Selection is useful for special effects like a glow or shadow. Or for delicate blending a foreground image into a background. Less intensity is used in photo manipulation and designs that require realism.
- Flowers in Woven Basket Photo by Hai Tran on Unsplash
You can define feathering for the Marquee Tools (M), the Lasso Tool (L), the Polygonal Lasso Tool, or the Magnetic Lasso Tool. As you use the tool, or you can add feathering to an existing selection. Pick the desired tool and set the Feather parameter first on the desired number of pixels at the top settings panel.
That value defines the width of the feathered edge and can range from 0 to 1000 pixels. After that, make a selection. Feathering effects became clear only after you move, cut, copy, or fill the selection.
An alternative way is to use the Feather command. Make a selection in any desired way. Then go to Select > Modify > Feather or use keyboard shortcut Shift + F6. In the dialog box, specify Feather Radius in pixels and click “Ok” to apply changes.
Checkbox “Apply effect at canvas bounds”, works when selection touches the borders of the working field and smoothing it. There is no preview of this effect. After the content is separated into a new layer, you can see that the hard edge becomes softer.
A small selection made with a large Feather radius may cause an error. If you see the message “No pixels are more than 50% selected,” either decrease the feather radius or increase the size of the selection. That because edges are invisible and thus not selectable.
But if you click OK, the selection is still there. Just, it will be less noticeable, so you cannot see the edges. You can deselect (Cmd/Ctrl + D or go to Select > Deselect) it and start over or use it as is.
Blur and Softening Edge
To create a soft transition from one image to another. Or a better combine an image with the background without a noticeable edge but not blurry all the contents. It is enough to make the selection of the desired object by picking any of the tools mentioned earlier from the toolbar on the left. After that, at the top toolbar settings, set the optimal Feather value and create your selection.
Separate the content of the selected area to a new layer. You can do that in many ways. Create a new layer (Layer > New) a then uses the Edit > Copy/Paste command. I use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + J to duplicate content on a new layer without modifying the original image.
Creating Special Effects
If you want to create a halo effect, a shadow, or a soft stroke around the already separated object. It is enough to load the selection by clicking on the layer or mask by holding Cmd/Ctrl on the keyboard. Go to Select > Modify > Feather or use keyboard shortcut Shift + F6.
Set the appropriate Feather Radius value in pixels and click “Ok” to modify the edge of the selection.
Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + N) under the original object layer. Next, apply the fill with the desired content like gradient, solid color, pattern, etc., or use it as a mask for another layer.
Keep in mind that, in some cases, much more convenient is to use layer styles than such a reception.
It is very convenient to use this feature when creating a vignette. Add a new layer at the top of the layer’s stack on the Layers Panel (Cmd/Ctrl + Opt/Alt + Shift + N). Pick the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) or Lasso Tool (L) and set the desired Feather value at the top bar.
Create an oval or any other shape selection inside the working field. The vignettes work well with bigger values of Feather because a softer transition creates. Invert selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I or go to Select > Inverse) to grab the area outside the selection. Fill the selection (Shift + F5 or go to Edit > Fill) with a solid color, type of light, or dark shades.
You can use Paint Bucket Tool or Gradient Tool (G) too. On the Layers panel, reduce the Opacity value of that layer to the desired result. Change the blending mode to “Multiply” for darks or “Lighten” for lights color, or another one. Now your vignette is ready!
In the creation of photo-realistic art, Feather uses smaller values. It helps better integrate every new fragment into the composition. It may seem strange because the main thing is sharp/hard edges and accurate selection. In practice, a little blurred edge, around 0.1 – 3 pixels, helps to combine fragments.
While super hard edges become an issue or produce artifacts. Look at the entire picture of the whole, then too hard edges divide the silhouettes of introduced fragments. Especially, if the background blurry or has a depth of field (DOF).
But these are questions about preferences, quality, and more subtle work. That result judges on a large zoom of the piece. The idea of keeping all the edges of the selection hard, as much as possible, is capturing a beginner. Only with time, practice and observations, you can learn how to use and control this technique.
Are you often work with layer masks? You can go to the settings of the layer mask by making double-click on the mask thumbnail and clicking “View Properties” (Window > Properties). Inside this panel, set the desired value for the Feather slider until you reach the desired result. You always come back and change the value if needed.
While working with the masks, you can apply any blur type through the Filter menu or a Blur Tool and Smudge Tool from the toolbar. You can completely imitate the Feather option behavior in the Quick Mask Mode (Q) by using tools, filters, and soft brushes.
Try to be creative and use it to be beneficial in your creative projects and not overdo it. That effect can make the design somewhat simplified. Combine approaches and designs to create art stylish and beautiful. Choose a way that is more convenient to solve your goals and task.
Quite often, that function uses in combination with the other functions of Select > Modify menu. Do not be afraid to go beyond software, style, and genre. But, most importantly – do not hesitate to create and experiment! Thank you for your attention and good luck to you in your creative projects! Have something to add or ask? Use the comment section below!