Learn how to refine layer masks.

What you'll need

This sample file is an Adobe Stock asset you can use to practice what you learn in this tutorial. If you want to use the sample file beyond this tutorial, you can purchase a license on Adobe Stock. Check out the ReadMe file in the folder for the terms that apply to your use of this sample file.

What you learned: Refine the edge of a layer mask

Create a layer mask

  1. In the Layers panel, select a layer that contains a subject you want to isolate.
  2. Use the Quick Selection tool or any other selection method to select the subject.
  3. Click the Add layer mask button in the Layers panel. The resulting layer mask is black where there was no selection, hiding the background around the subject. Don’t worry if the mask edge isn’t perfect yet.

Modify the layer mask in the Properties panel

With the layer mask highlighted in the Layers panel, experiment with some of the controls in the Properties panel. (If the Properties panel is closed, choose Window > Properties.)

  • Try dragging the Density slider to the left to make the layer mask more transparent, so you can partially see the hidden area of the masked layer.
  • Drag the feather slider slightly to the right if you want to soften the edge of the layer mask to blend the subject on the masked layer with the underlying layer.

Refine the mask edge in the Select and Mask workspace

  1. Click the Select and Mask button in the Properties panel to open the Select and Mask workspace.
  2. Select the Refine Edge Brush tool on the left side of the workspace. Then drag over the edge of the subject to clean up the mask edge.
  3. Select the Brush tool on the left, check that the Plus icon is enabled at the top of the workspace, and paint over a hidden area you want to bring into view. Switch to the Minus icon and paint over an area you want to hide from view.
  4. In the Select and Mask Properties panel on the right side of the workspace, try dragging the Smooth slider to the right to smooth the edge of the mask. Try dragging the Contrast slider to the right to make the edge of the mask less soft. If necessary, drag the Shift Edge slider to the left to reduce unwanted fringing at the mask edge.
  5. Choose Output to > Layer Mask and click OK to close the Select and Mask workspace and apply these refinements to the original layer mask.

Save your work with layers

  • Save the image in .PSD or .TIFF format to retain layers and the layer mask for future editing.
02/07/2019

Adobe Stock contributor: Vedmochka, rangizzz

Presenter: Jan Kabili

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