How to feather edges in Adobe Photoshop.
Learn the tools and techniques you need to soften up your image when it’s rough around the edges.
What is feathering?
Feathering is a way to soften the hard edges of an object in your image. By gradually fading between the colors of the pixels on the edge and the pixels surrounding it, feathering can help you make a newly added element blend in with the rest of your image. But that’s not the only reason you might want to feather an edge.
Match your background.
If you’ve made changes to a single selection of your image, you may notice a distinct or jagged edge where it stands out from the unaltered background color. Feathering smooths those edges away.
Create a vignette.
A vignette effect is a way to highlight the subject of your image by fading and darkening the area around it. You can control how extreme this effect looks with a feather slider.
Hide your layers.
Feathering the border where a new layer meets the existing one can help make them look like they’re both inhabiting the same space.
How do I feather edges in Photoshop?
Photoshop doesn’t have a dedicated feathering tool, but you can create a feathered selection in three different ways.
Feather the pixels around a shape.
1. Select it:
Use a shape-based selection tool, such as the Elliptical tool or Lasso tool, to choose the area that you want to feather. When you’ve made your selection, it’ll be surrounded by animated black dashes — also known as “marching ants.”
2. Set it:
From the settings bar at the top of the window, select Feather.
3. Feather it:
In the text box, enter a value of between 0 and 100 pixels to determine how heavily the Feather effect will be applied to the selected area.
Feather the pixels around a selection.
1. Select it:
Select the area you want to feather with a selection tool, such as the Quick Selection tool.
2. Mask it:
Choose Select and Mask from the options bar.
3. Feather it:
In the Properties panel on the right side of the screen, use the Feather slider to adjust how much of a blur effect will be applied to the layer mask that overlays the selected area.
4. Apply it:
5. Copy and paste it:
Press Ctrl+C if you want to copy the mask (Command+C on Mac) and Ctrl+V to paste it onto another layer (Command+V on Mac).
This is a more advanced option, ideal for when you’re trying to create a blur effect or apply filters.
1. Select it:
Make a selection.
2. Modify it:
Go to Select › Modify › Feather or press Shift+F6.
3. Apply it:
Click OK in the dialog box to apply changes.
How else can I smooth edges in Photoshop?
Feathering isn’t the only way to soften up an edge. Photoshop offers other options with their own distinct benefits.
Smooth edges with anti-aliasing.
Unlike feathering, which changes pixels’ color, anti-aliasing softens the opacity between edge and background pixels while maintaining the image’s clarity. Basically, it blends pixels to achieve the same smoothing effect as feathering but doesn’t blur edges. Just choose your selection tool, check the box beside Anti-aliasing in the options bar at the top of the screen, and then select the spot you want to smooth in your image.
Smooth edges with the Blur tool.
The Blur tool is for advanced users who want to paint the smoothing effect directly onto the canvas using their cursor. Just zoom in on the edge you want to smooth, select the Blur tool, set its strength from the drop-down menu at the top of the screen, and then run it over the edges that you want to soften.
Blur the edges of an effect.
To make a targeted edit that’s feathered on the edges, like adding an angelic glow to the subject of a portrait, first select the area you want. The Select Subject tool will select the person in a portrait. Then press Q to open Quick Mask mode and go to Filter › Blur › Gaussian blur. Add blur with the slider, and hit Q to leave Quick Mask mode. Finally, in the Layers panel, go to Adjustments to alter the Brightness/Contrast or other aspects of your newly blurred selection.
Tutorials for your softer side.
Photoshop can do so much more than just create soft, feathered edges. Discover step-by-step tutorials to help you transform your original image into something completely new.
Give a portrait an artful twist.
Use selections, masking, and some carefully softened edges to create a composite image.
Design a flowery font.
Explore how you can use Photoshop to turn colorful flower photographs into a custom typeface.
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