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How to Smooth Mask Edges in Photoshop

For this tutorial, you will need an image or portrait to work with. It is a good idea that the subject of the background is as simple as possible to make it easier to outline. We will be using a rose stock photo, but make sure to check out the rest of the flower stock photos available on Design Bundles.


Step 1: Open your image


In Photoshop, open the image you chose.

Open image in Photoshop


Step 2: Make the selection


Use the quick selection tool (W).

Quick selection tool in Photoshop


And start selecting what you want to keep.

Make selection in Photoshop


Step 3: Refine your selection

Use the add and/or subtract from selection buttons to refine your selection.

Add/subtract from selection in Photoshop


Make the brush size smaller (or bigger) to select the portions that require a more precise approach.

Brush settings in Photoshop


Step 4: Mask your selection

Once you are happy with your selection, click on the select and mask button on the top menu.

Select and mask in Photoshop


Step 5: Adjust the mask’s edge detection and global refinements settings

Choose the type of background that will give you a better view of the edges as view mode (we used onion skin (O)).

Mask view mode in Photoshop


Then, start tweaking the smooth value until you are happy with the result. Next, do the same with the feather and contrast. It doesn’t matter if you see some background color, crank them up until everything is smooth. You can also adjust the shift edge value a bit to make it look better.

Mask settings in Photoshop


Finally, select output to layer mask and click Ok.

Output mask as in Photoshop


Here’s how our masked image looks.

Masked image in Photoshop


Step 6: Clean up the masked image and add a background layer

Zoom in and look for places where the background is still showing. Create a new solid color fill layer by clicking on the small black & white button at the bottom of the layers panel.

Solid color layer in Photoshop


Choose black (#000000) as the fill color.

Select color in Photoshop


And move its thumbnail so it is placed under the masked image.

Move layers in Photoshop


Select the brush tool (B), (make sure you are working on the selection layer mask) and use a small medium-hard brush (5 px, 70% hardness) with black as foreground color, to clean the spots where the background shows.

Brush settings in Photoshop


Refine mask edges in Photoshop


Change the foreground color to white to bring out portions of the image that are covered instead. Go back and ford with your brush until you are satisfied with the image.

Change color in Photoshop


Then, increase the feather a bit in the properties panel.

Adjust mask feather in Photoshop


You can change the background color by double-clicking on its thumbnail and changing it there.

Change color in Photoshop


Here’s the final result.

Smooth masked edges in Photoshop


If you liked this tutorial make sure to check out our other Photoshop tutorials like creating clipping masks, perspective cropping, and using the healing brush.

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