How to Smooth Edges in Photoshop

Saikat Basu 23-01-2018

One of the first image editing feats you’ll want to master is putting two images together and creating a composite image. So, you will have to learn how to select an image, remove it from its background, and also smooth the hard edges of that selection so that it doesn’t look like a cutout.


Photoshop CC 2018 helps a lot here with its improved Select and Mask feature. Here’s how it can help you make quick selections and smooth edges in double time.

How to Extract a Photo With Select and Mask

The new Select and Mask option in the menu will take you to a separate workspace and give you the controls to finetune any selections. The workspace also replaces the Refine Edge dialog in earlier versions of Photoshop:

  1. Open your image in Photoshop CC 2018.
  2. Go to Select > Select And Mask.
    Photoshop CC 2018 Select and Mask
    You can also use Ctrl + Alt + R (Windows) or Cmd + Option + R (Mac) as keyboard shortcuts. Or pick a selection tool like Quick Selection, Magic Wand, or Lasso, and then click Select And Mask in the Options bar on top.
  3. The Select and Mask user interface will now help you make precise selections with the selection tools on the left. The Properties panel on the right will help refine that selection further.
    Photoshop CC 2018 Select & Mask Workspace
  4. The View mode options (for instance, Onion skin or the Overlay) will help preview the selection and separate it from its background. Use the Opacity slider to see what you need to add or subtract from your selection.
    View Options
  5. Pick up the Quick Selection brush from the tools panel and click-drag over the area you want to select. You don’t need to be too precise because the brush works intuitively. Leave it to the Refine Edge brush.
  6. The Refine Edge brush tool helps to include fuzzy areas like hair or fur. Use the bracket keys to increase and decrease the brush size when you make the selections.
    Refine Edge Brush
  7. Use the Brush tool to improve the selection. The Add and Subtract mode allows you to control what you want to select or leave out.

For many images, you can stop right here. But the four Global Refinement settings can work their magic too and make your selection better. Play around with the four sliders to smooth the edges of an image:

Global Refinements

  • Smooth: Renders a smoother outline for the selection.
  • Feather: Softens the transition between the selection and the background.
  • Contrast: When increases, the soft edge transition becomes crisper.
  • Shift Edge: Move a soft selection edge inwards or outwards to remove unwanted pixels.

When you are done, go to Output to. Choose the kind of document you want your selection to be. Click OK and Photoshop returns you to the main workspace.


Adobe has an excellent tutorial which demonstrates the Select and Mask in action. Julienne Kost shows how easy and powerful it is.

Ready for other useful Photoshop tutorials? See how to sharpen your photos How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Adobe Photoshop If you have some blurry photos you need sharpening, here's how to make your photos sharper using Adobe Photoshop. Read More how to use the blending mode in Photoshop How to Use the Blending Mode in Photoshop Photoshop's blending mode can be daunting. Here are the basics of the blending mode in Adobe Photoshop to get you started. Read More , and how to create a custom color palette How to Create a Custom Color Palette in Adobe Photoshop Here's how to create a custom color palette in Adobe Photoshop if you don't like Photoshop's default color swatches. Read More . Learning how to create 3D buttons How to Create 3D Buttons Using Adobe Photoshop Here's how to create 3D buttons in Photoshop, along with "up" and "down" states so you can animate them. Read More is also a great way to pick up a few Photoshop skills!

Image Credit: Yaruta/Depositphotos

Related topics: Adobe Photoshop, Image Editing Tips, Photoshop Tutorial.

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  1. jessie
    January 23, 2018 at 10:08 pm

    What is this 101 all about?. Inthe UK we have a TV programme ROOM 101. where whatever you put into it disappears for good. The room 101 is also the address of an income tax office. (That would make you think. As to where your tax gose to).