The Quick Selection Tool

The Quick Selection Tool is the go to tool for many looking to quickly cut out an image in Photoshop. As it says in the name, it’s the ‘quickest’ way to make a flawless selection. Although it is so widely used, there is a very undeniable draw back to this tool. The auto selection often leaves a jagged selection edge up close and drastically reduces the flawlessness provided by things like the pen tool.

refine edge quick selection

Now I’m not trying to convince you to never use the quick selection tool again. It’s a fantastic and easy tool that has countless uses throughout Photoshop. Since it makes such a mess of our edges, we have to know what steps to take towards reversing those effects! Luckily for us, there is a hidden tool tucked away in Photoshop that can solve all our problems.

Video Tutorial

Refine Edge Tool

The refine edge tool! You likely have found this feature by accident while clicking on a layer mask a few too many times. To access this tool, just double click on the layer mask you wish to adjust.

The refine edge tool allows you to adjust and perfect any of your selections through the use of a few intuitive sliders. The reason this tool works to well paired with the quick selection tool is that it simply adjusts and smooths the edges with just a few sliders. Although the refine edge tool can do much more than simply smooth an edge, let’s stick in the realm of its usefulness when paired with quick selection tool.

Global Refinements

In the refine edge tool, the best sliders for the job, lie in your global refinements tab. In this tab you have 4 different options: Smooth, Feather, Contrast and Shift Edge.

Smooth: Manipulates and smooths jagged edges. Good in small amounts, use too much and you will find parts outside of your selection begin to seep in!

Feather: Just as a feather on the brush tool, it softens the edge of your selection. This can be useful to blend out any imperfections left around your edges.

Contrast: Just as the name suggests, it adds contrast to the selections edge. When paired with the feather slider, it creates a clean and sharp edge.

Shift Edge: Shift edge allows you to move the edge of your selection. A great feature to reduce fringing or add a little extra to your selection in a pinch!

By using these four sliders together you can drastically improve the quality of your selections!

Refine Edge Tool Export Settings

refine edge tool export setting

Whenever I use the refine edge tool, I always set my “export to” tab to “NEW LAYER WITH LAYER MASK”. This way all the changes made are put onto a new layer that I can easily compare to my previous and continue working non destructively.

Simply click on the export to tab to select any option you prefer to have as your export setting. Experiment with different ones to see which is best for you!

Final Thoughts

There is no right or wrong when adjusting the settings we talked about above. Every image will require something a little bit different. Luckily for you there are only four sliders you need to worry about.

On the top of the refine edge tool adjustment panel there is a view option. I like to keep mine set to “onion skin”. Although a gross sounding name, this view mode allows us to easily see what our current selection is and what lies outside of it. This is key to help us be certain we have selected everything we need from a particular image.

As always, let me know if you have any questions down in the comments below!

Happy Editing! 🙂

-Brendan

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