How to Use the Marquee Refine Edge Option in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Use the Marquee Refine Edge Option in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

In Photoshop CS6, the Refine Edge tool in the Options bar will give you the ability to fine-tune your selections to give the finished product a polished look.

  • Refine Edge: Although you probably won’t need to fine-tune a simple marquee selection, that’s what this option does. You can apply Refine Edges to any selection, and it appears on the Options bar of the Marquee, Lasso, Magic Wand, and Quick Selection tools. You can even use it to refine a layer mask. You can also apply this command to any existing selection by choosing Select→Refine Edge.

    Here’s the lowdown on this option’s settings:

    • View Mode: Choose a mode from the pop-up menu to preview your selection. For example, Marching Ants shows the moving marquee, Overlay displays the red overlay you get when working in Quick Mask mode, and On Black and On White show the selection against a black or white background.

      Hover your cursor over each mode to get a tooltip. Press F to cycle through the various modes. Show Original shows the image without a selection preview. Show Radius displays the image with the selection border.

    • Smart Radius: Select this option to have Photoshop automatically adjust the radius for hard and soft edges near your selection border. If your border is uniformly hard or soft, you may not want to select this option. This enables you to have more control over the radius setting.

    • Radius: Specify the size of the selection border you will refine. Increase the radius to improve the edge of areas with soft transitions or a lot of detail. Move the slider while looking at your selection to find a good setting.


    • Smooth: Smoothes out jigs and jags along the selection edge.

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

    • Contrast: Removes artifacts while tightening soft edges by increasing the contrast. Try using the Smart Radius option first before playing with Contrast.

    • Shift Edge: Decreases or increases your selection border. Slightly decreasing your selection border can help to defringe (eliminate undesirable background pixels) your selection edges.

    • Decontaminate Colors: Replaces background fringe with the colors of your selected element. Note that because decontamination changes the colors of some of the pixels, you will have to output to, or create, another layer or document to preserve your current layer. To see the decontamination in action, choose Reveal Layer for your View mode.

    • Amount: Changes the level of decontamination.

    • Output To: Choose whether you want to output your refined, decontaminated selection to a selection on your current layer, layer mask, layer, layer with layer mask, new document, or new document with layer mask.

    • Refine Radius tool: Brush around your border to adjust the area you are refining. To understand exactly what area is being included or excluded, change your View mode to Marching Ants. Use the right and left brackets to decrease and increase the brush size.

    • Zoom tool: Enables you to zoom into your image to see the effects of your settings.

    • Hand tool: Lets you pan around your document window to see the effects of your settings in various portions of your image.