Feather and Refine the Edges of Selections in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

Feather and Refine the Edges of Selections in Photoshop Elements 10

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

You can use the Select menu commands to further modify selections by feathering and refining the edges of your selections, along with a host of other options including expanding, contracting, smoothing, softening, growing, and grabbing similarly colored pixels. If that doesn’t satisfy your selection needs, nothing will.

Feather selections in Photoshop Elements 10

You can feather a selection when using the Lasso and Marquee tools by entering a value in the Feather box on the Options bar. Remember that this method of feathering requires that you set the Feather value before you create your selection. There’s a way to apply a feather after you make a selection.

Choose Select→Feather and enter your desired amount from 0.2 to 250 pixels. Your selection is subsequently softened around the edges.

This method is actually a better way to go. Make your selection and fine-tune it. Then, apply your feather. The problem with applying the feather before you make a selection happens when you want to modify your initial selection.

When you make a selection with a feather, the marquee outline of the selection adjusts to take into account the amount of the feather. So, the resulting marquee outline doesn’t resemble your precise mouse movement, making it harder to modify that selection.

Refining the edges of a selection in Photoshop Elements 10

The Refine Edge option enables you to fine-tune the edges of your selection. It doesn’t matter how you got the selection, just that you have one. You can find the command in the Options bar of the Magic Wand, Lasso, and Quick Selection tools. And, of course, you can find it in the Select menu. Here’s the scoop on each of the settings in this option.


  • Smooth. Reduces jaggedness along your selection edges.

  • Feather. Moves the slider to create an increasingly softer, more blurred edge.

  • Contract/Expand. Decreases or increases the selected area.

  • Background icons. Enables you to preview your selection in Standard or Overlay mode. Click the custom overlay color button to preview your selection with the edges hidden and a semi-opaque layer of color (that shows onscreen only) in your unselected area. Double-click this icon to change the color and opacity of the overlay. Press F to cycle between standard and overlay views. And press X to hide your selection edges.

  • Zoom tool. Allows you to zoom in to your image to see the effects of your settings.

  • Hand tool. Enables you to pan around your image window to see the effects of your settings.