Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Photoshop Elements

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Softening Those Harsh Edges

When you make an adjustment to a selected area in a photo, your adjustment stays completely inside the selected area. That’s great in many cases, but when you deselect, you’ll see a hard edge around the area you adjusted, making the change look fairly obvious. However, softening those hard edges (thereby “hiding your tracks”) is easy—here’s how:

Step One:

Let’s say you want to darken the area around the woman, so it looks almost like you shined a soft spot-light on her. Start by drawing an oval selection around her using the Elliptical Marquee tool (press M until you have it). Make the selection big enough so the woman and the surrounding area appear inside your selection. Now we’re going to darken the area around her, so go under the Select menu and choose Inverse. This inverses the selection so you’ll have everything but the woman selected (you’ll use this trick often).

Step Two:

Click on the Create New Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette, and choose Levels. In the Adjustments palette, drag the shadow Input Levels slider to the right to about 66. You can see the harsh edges around the oval, and it looks nothing like a soft spotlight—it looks like a bright oval. That’s why we need to soften the edges so there’s a smooth blend between the bright oval and the dark surroundings.

Step Three:

Press Ctrl-Z (Mac: Command-Z) three times so your photo looks like it did when you drew your selection in Step One (your selection should be in place—if not, drag out another oval). With your selection in place, go under the Select menu and choose Feather. When the Feather Selection dialog appears, enter 100 pixels (the higher the number, the more softening effect on the edges) and click OK. That’s it—you’ve softened the edges. Now, let’s see what a difference that makes.

Step Four:

Go under the Select menu and choose Inverse again. Add a Levels adjustment layer again, drag the shadow Input Levels slider to around 43, and you can see that the edges of the area you adjusted are soft and blending together smoothly, so it looks more like a spotlight. Now, this comes in really handy when you’re doing things like adjusting somebody with a face that’s too red. Without feathering the edges, you’d see a hard line around your person’s face where you made your adjustments, and it would be a dead giveaway that the photo had been adjusted. But add a little bit of feather (with a face, it might only take a Feather Radius amount of 2 or 3 pixels), and it will blend right in, hiding the fact that you made an adjustment at all.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account