The Layers tool offers a refine mask option, which enhances the precision of the mask along the border. When applied, the tool affects all the masks in each layer. The Refine Mask tool’s edge-detecting technology makes it ideal for fixing edges, creating accurate and clean selections of complex elements from backgrounds, such as when masking hair, fur, or other objects with intricate or fine details. It can also be used to improve brush work along the horizon in landscapes and cityscapes, for example, as well as other elements with high-contrast edges. If the image has high noise levels or has low contrast, the Feather Mask should be used instead.
The Refine Mask tool should be used at the end of the workflow. However, it is typically an iterative process and some tidying of the mask edge may be necessary using the eraser brush (E) before reapplying the Refine Mask command. Adjusting the Radius slider or text box alters the width or radius of the edge of the mask in pixels (px), with a range of 0-300 and a default of 10px. However, the tool will recall the previously set value. In general, start with the default setting, enable the Display Mask (M) or Display Grayscale Mask (Alt-M), then gently move the slider to the left for a smaller radius and harder, sharper edge, or to the right when haloing or other unwanted artifacts are observed and a slightly softer edge is required, with wispy hair, for example. The tool does not work with offline images.
While you can use the Refine Mask feature on any Radial Gradient Mask or a Linear Gradient Mask, you will be prompted to rasterize the mask once you click Apply. You will be able to see and adjust the refine edge effect before you commit, but you cannot readjust the Radial Gradient Mask or the Linear Gradient Mask itself once you have added the feathering.
- Go to the Layers tool and right-click on the layer that you would like to modify.
- Select Refine Mask… from the list. The Refine Mask dialog window opens.
- Drag the Radius slider to the left beneath 10 (default) to improve the quality for hard, clean edges, or above this point to the right to a maximum of 300px for softer edge transitions when masking fine detail such as hair. The image will be updated with the effect in the Viewer. Toggle the Display Mask option on and off to view and hide the mask overlay.
- Click Apply to confirm the setting or Cancel to reject it. If you are working on a Radial Gradient Mask or a Linear Gradient Mask, you will be prompted to rasterize the mask once you click Apply.
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