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Edgy Edge Effects in Photoshop

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We're surrounded by images with interesting edges. Look around and you'll see photos with soft foggy edges and others that look torn or sanded. These edges provide interesting outlines for photos and digital art, and they're easy to create for your own images. Better still, when you create an interesting edge treatment, you can save it to use again on another image. Helen Bradley shows how to create a range of different edge effects and how to apply them by using masks and layers to any photo or image in your collection.
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All around us in advertising and art are images with interesting edges. Look around—you’ll see some photos that are surrounded by soft foggy edges and others that look torn or sanded. These edges provide interesting outlines for photos and digital art, and they’re easy to create for your own images. Better still, when you create an interesting edge treatment, you can save it to use again on another image. In this article you’ll learn how to create a range of different edge effects and how to apply them by using masks and layers to any photo or image in your collection.

Simple Edge Effect

One of the simplest edge effects to create is one that surrounds the image with a soft foggy white border so the photo disappears gradually into the border. To create this effect, open your image, select the Rectangle Marquee Tool and make a selection around the inside of the image about where you want the blurred effect to begin. Choose Select>Feather and add a large feather to the image—for example, for an image 1600 x 2000 in size, set the feather value to 60 pixels and use a larger value on a larger image. Choose Layer>New Layer and click OK, choose Select>Inverse to invert your selection and fill the selection with White using the Paint Bucket tool (see Figure 1). Click Control+D (Command+D on the Mac) to remove the selection marquee and admire the edge.

Figure 1

Figure 1 A simple foggy edge effect can be created by filling a feathered selection with white.

To lighten the effect, reduce the opacity of this layer. To make the edge black, click the layer containing the edge and press Control+I (Command+I on the Mac) to invert the colors. When using a black edge, experiment with different blend modes for the edge layer (some, such as the Overlay mode give interesting effects). If the edge encroaches too far over the photo, Control+click (Command+click on the Mac) on the layer thumbnail of the edge layer and choose Edit>Free Transform. Enlarge the layer a little to move the edge away from the photo. In addition to black and white, you can fill the edge with any color—even one sampled from the image using the Eyedropper tool. To do this, Control+click on the layer with the edge in it (Command+click on the Mac), set the background color to the color use, and press Control+Backspace (Command+Delete on the Mac) to fill it. Because the edge is on a layer of its own, it remains fully editable.

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