The Photoshop Elements 11 Modify Commands

The Select→Modify menu in Photoshop Elements 11 contains a group of modification commands that are lumped together categorically. You probably don’t use these options every day, but sometimes they can come in handy. Here’s the lowdown on each command:

  • Border: Selects the area around the edge of the selection. You specify the width of the area from 1 to 200 pixels, and you create a border outline, as shown on the left. Choose Edit→Fill Selection and fill the border with color, as shown in the image on the right.

    [Credit: ©istockphoto.com/imv Image #2053920]
    Credit: ©istockphoto.com/imv Image #2053920
  • Smooth: Rounds off the nooks, crannies, and jagged edges. Enter a radius value from 1 to 100 pixels, and Elements looks at each selected pixel and then includes or deselects the pixels based on the radius value.

    If most pixels are selected, Elements includes the strays; if most pixels are unselected, Elements removes these pixels. Start with 2 pixels or so — and if that doesn’t seem like enough, increase it by a few pixels.

    Use this command with great caution. It’s just too easy to produce mushy, inaccurate selections.

  • Expand: Increases the size of your selection by a specified number of pixels, from 1 to 100. This command comes in handy if you just miss the edge of an elliptical selection and want to enlarge it a tad.

  • Contract: Shrinks your selection by 1 to 100 pixels. When you’re compositing multiple images, you can benefit by slightly contracting your selection if you plan to apply a feather. You can then avoid picking up a fringe of background pixels around your selection.

    After you make a selection, contract it and then feather it before you drag it onto the canvas. This technique helps to create a natural-looking transition between the images in your composite. The amount you decide to contract and feather varies according to the resolution of the images.

    For example, if you’re using low-resolution (72 pixels per inch, or ppi) images, you may want to use 1 pixel for the Contract amount and 0.5 pixels for the Feather amount; higher-resolution images may warrant 2 to 3 pixels for the Contract amount and 1 to 2 pixels for the Feather amount.

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