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Photoshop Elements >

Cropping >

Feather/Fade the Edge

Of a Photograph

You can feather or fade the edges of a photograph easily.

This is not to be confused with vignette-ing, the darkening of the edges of a photograph.

Two Choices

You have two choices.

1) Do you want to be able to see through the feathered edge?

2) Is there a color, other than white, below the photograph?

Choice #1 - See Through

The Feathered Edge

Is there something under the photograph that should blend with the feathered edge of the photograph?

For example, let's say you have two photographs of your house.

There's the before photograph: 1960s ranch.

There's the after photograph: I. M. Pei transformation.

You want to place the 1960s photograph in one corner of the larger, I.-M.-Pei photograph.

You want the edges of the 1960s photograph to blend into the I.-M.-Pei photograph.

To do so, just save the photograph using the GIF or PNG file formats.

They both preserve the transparency of the feathered edge

Choice #2 - See a Color

In the Feathering

If you save the photograph as a JPEG, the color seen through the feathering, by default, is white.

That's fine if the photograph is by itself, or if it's on a white background.

If the background is a color other than white, you must put that color under the photograph in the layers stack.

You can save this choice using any typical file format.

Feather Values

The feather value that you enter depends on how many pixels are in the photograph.

Photographs taken by phones need a low value.

Photographs taken with an 18-megapixel digital SLR require a higher value.

Preview the Feathering

When you enter a feather value, you can't normally see what it looks like.

If you add a couple of steps, you can.

In the tutorials below, after you enter a feather value and make a selection, do the following.

a) In options bar/Tool Options for the selection tool, click Refine Edge.

b) In the window, open the menu in the View section, and select Overlay.

The area inside the selection remains clear.

The area outside the selection turns red.

c) Check the feathering.

d) Select Marching Ants in the Refine Edge window and click OK.

e) Continue with the tutorial.

Five Methods

There are five feathering methods.

Method #1

Edit > Copy

• Easy

• No cropping

Method #2

Clipping Group

• Cool

Method #3

Gaussian Blur

• See the feathering as you adjust it.

Method #4

Cookie Cutter Tool

• Choose from many shapes

Method #5

Easy

• Easy!

Preparation

1) Preserve your original file.

If you haven't already done so, go to Preserve Your Original File.

2) Create a Background copy layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to Create a Background Copy Layer.

Method #1 - Edit > Copy

1) Make sure the Background copy layer is active (highlighted).

2) Select the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee tool.

3) In options bar/Tool Options, enter a value between ten and twenty in the Feather box.

4) Drag out the selection.

• To move the selection, click inside and hold, and drag.

• You can fine tune its position with the arrow keys.

• To change its shape, or to rotate it, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Then, do the following.

Click and hold, on the handles on the sides or the corners, and drag to change its shape.

To rotate, place your cursor just outside one of the corners, click and hold, and drag.

Do you want to:

See through the feathered edge?

Have a color under the feathered edge?

See Through

5) Go to Edit > Copy.

6) Go to File > New > Image from Clipboard.

9) Save using the PNG or GIF file formats to preserve the transparency of the feathered edge.

Color Under

Do the following to place a color under the feathered edge.

5) Go to Select > Inverse.

If you haven't already done so, go to Flip the Selection.

6) Double click the foreground color, and choose a color in the Color Picker window.

7) Go to Edit > Fill Selection, and click OK.

By default, foreground color is the selection in the Use box.

8) Go to Select > Inverse.

If you haven't already done so, go to Flip the Selection.

9) Go to Edit > Copy.

10) Go to File > New > Image from Clipboard.

11) Save using the JPEG file format.

Method #2 - Clipping Group

A clipping group combines portions of two layers.

Here, the feathering is taken from one layer, and is combined with the Background copy layer.

1) Make sure the Background layer is active (highlighted).

2) Create a blank layer.

3) Select the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee tool.

4) In options bar/Tool Options, enter a value between ten and twenty in the Feather box.

5) Drag out the selection.

• To move the selection, click inside and hold, and drag.

• You can fine tune its position with the arrow keys.

• To change its shape, or to rotate it, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Then, do the following.

Click and hold, on the handles on the sides or the corners, and drag to change its shape.

To rotate, place your cursor just outside one of the corners, click and hold, and drag.

6) Make sure the foreground color is set to black.

If you haven't already, go to Foreground & Background Colors.

7) Go to Edit > Fill Selection, and click OK.

By default, foreground color is the selection in the Use box.

8) Press Esc to delete the selection.

9) Click the eye icon of the Background layer to turn it off.

10) Make sure the Background copy layer is active (highlighted).

11) Press Ctrl + g to group the Background copy layer with the blank layer.

Do you want to:

See through the feathered edge?

Have a color under the feathered edge?

See Through

12) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the transparent (checker board) area.

13) Save using the GIF or PNG file formats to preserve the transparency of the feathered edge.

Color Under

Do the following to place a color under the feathered edge.

11) Make sure the Background layer is active (highlighted).

12) Create a Solid Color adjustment layer.

13) Select a color using the Color Picker window, and click Ok.

For white, enter ffffff in the # box.

Black is 000000.

14) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the colored area.

15) Save using the JPEG file format.

Method #3 - Gaussian Blur

This is a variation of Method #2.

Instead of feathering the selection, this method uses the Gaussian Blur filter.

You can see the amount of the feathering as you move the slider.

1) Make sure the Background layer is active (highlighted).

2) Create a blank layer.

3) Select the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee tool.

4) Drag out the selection.

• To move the selection, click inside and hold, and drag.

• You can fine tune its position with the arrow keys.

• To change its shape, or to rotate it, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Then, do the following.

Click and hold, on the handles on the sides or the corners, and drag to change its shape.

To rotate, place your cursor just outside one of the corners, click and hold, and drag.

5) Make sure the foreground color is set to black.

If you haven't already, go to Foreground & Background Colors.

6) Go to Edit > Fill Selection, and click OK.

By default, foreground color is the selection in the Use box.

7) Press Esc to delete the selection.

8) Click the eye icon of the Background layer to turn it off.

9) Make sure the Background copy layer is active (highlighted).

10) Press Ctrl + g to group the Background copy layer with the blank layer.

11) Make sure the blank layer is active (highlighted).

12) Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and move the slider until you see the optimum amount of feathering.

Do you want to:

See through the feathered edge?

Have a color under the feathered edge?

See Through

13) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the transparent (checker board) area.

14) Save using the GIF or PNG file formats to preserve the transparency of the feathered edge.

Color Under

Do the following to place a color under the feathered edge.

13) Make sure the Background layer is active (highlighted).

14) Create a Solid Color adjustment layer.

15) Select a color using the Color Picker window, and click Ok.

For white, enter ffffff in the # box.

Black is 000000.

16) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the colored area.

17) Save using the JPEG file format.

Method #4 - Cookie Cutter Tool

1) Make sure the Background copy layer is active (highlighted).

2) Select the Cookie Cutter tool.

3) In options bar/Tool Options, click the tiny black triangle to open the Shape menu.

4) Click the tiny double arrow in the upper-right corner of the menu, and select Shapes.

5) Double click the solid-black-circle shape, or the solid-black-rectangle shape.

6) Click and drag out the shape.

• To move the selection, click inside and hold, and drag.

• You can fine tune its position with the arrow keys.

• Click and hold, on the handles on the sides or the corners.

Then drag to change its shape.

• To rotate, place your cursor just outside one of the corners, click and hold, and drag.

7) In options bar/Tool Options, in the Feather box, enter a value between ten and twenty.

8) Click the green check mark.

9) To see the feathering, click the eye icon of the Background layer to turn it off.

Do you want to:

See through the feathered edge?

Have a color under the feathered edge?

See Through

10) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the transparent (checker board) area.

11) Save using the PNG or GIF file formats to preserve the transparency of the feathered edge.

Color Under

Do the following to place a color under the feathered edge.

10) Make sure the Background layer is active (highlighted).

11) Create a Solid Color adjustment layer.

12) Select a color using the Color Picker window, and click Ok.

For white, enter ffffff in the # box.

Black is 000000.

13) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the colored area.

14) Save using the JPEG file format.

Method #5 - Easy

1) Make sure the Background copy layer is active (highlighted).

2) Select the Elliptical or Rectangular Marquee tool.

3) In options bar/Tool Options, enter a value between ten and twenty in the Feather box.

4) Drag out the selection.

• To move the selection, click inside and hold, and drag.

• You can fine tune its position with the arrow keys.

• To change its shape, or to rotate it, go to Select > Transform Selection.

Then, do the following.

Click and hold, on the handles on the sides or the corners, and drag to change its shape.

To rotate, place your cursor just outside one of the corners, click and hold, and drag.

5) Go to Select > Inverse.

If you haven't already done so, go to Flip the Selection.

Do you want to:

See through the feathered edge?

Have a color under the feathered edge?

See Through

6) Click the eye icon of the Background layer to turn it off.

7) Press Ctrl + x.

8) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the transparent (checker board) area.

9) Save using the GIF or PNG file formats to preserve the transparency of the feathered edge.

Color Under

Do the following to place a color under the feathered edge.

6) Double click the foreground color, and choose a color in the Color Picker window.

7) Go to Edit > Fill Selection, and click OK.

By default, foreground color is the selection in the Use box.

7) Press Esc to delete the selection.

8) Use the Crop tool to trim away unwanted portions of the colored area.

9) Save using the JPEG file format.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.