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Photoshop: Quick Refine Soft-Edge Mask Tip

Modified: 13 September 2009 – Added “Note”.

Super quick tip. A  practical example. I’ve been writing Technical Documentation the past weeks, and am processing an awful lot of screenshots. Sometimes they are kind of big and I really only want to focus on one part, but would love to see a fading edge and I crop the images so they don’t take up too much room. Photoshop CS4’s Mask panel helps be produce the desired effect.


Photoshop CS4 makes this a 3 second task… I’m not kidding ! Don’t blink, you might miss them.

Quick Steps 1-2-3

Create a Selection, with the Rectangle Marquee tool, roughly the size you want the final image to be.


Note: If you want to feather the bottom half of an entire screenshot, don’t select the entire canvas. Instead, just select an area that falls a few pixels within the canvas area at the feathering point.

Click Add Pixel Mask in Masks Panel.


Click Mask Edge… The Refine Edge dialog appears.


Play with Feather and Contract/Expand settings (and others if preferred) until you get the edge just right

Click OK

and you’re done.

Video Tutorial


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  1. Cari Jansen Cari Jansen
    August 25, 2010    

    @Shannon you’re most welcome!

  2. Shannon Connor Shannon Connor
    August 23, 2010    

    Thank you for this! What an easy tip that ends up looking beautiful and professional.

  3. Cari Jansen Cari Jansen
    September 13, 2009    

    @Eddie: I’ll add an additional note in the tip, that clarifies a particular pitfall.

    Say you want to feather just the bottom of an image.
    When you create the selection, ensure you select an area just a tiny bit less deep than the entire canvas area (E.g. Edit > Select All won’t work).

    After you’ve done that you can feather away nicely 🙂

    Hope this helps.

  4. September 11, 2009    

    Hi, Cari, just discovered you and your site and will certainly be returning and returning! Great stuff!

    I’m having the same problem with this tip as Mark did: All four sides are getting feathered. I don’t understand Mark’s reference to “properly trimmed.”

    What am I missing?!

  5. Mark Hebert Mark Hebert
    August 26, 2009    

    OK, I figured it out.

    The reason I was getting the feather on each edge was that the screen shot was not properly trimmed! I had more image outside my cropped view, hence more image area to mask and the resulting feather on all sides. Once I trimmed it to size it worked just like your video, one edge feathered.

    This is a caveat that should be noted.

  6. Mark Hebert Mark Hebert
    August 26, 2009    


    I’ve gone through the video several times and I duplicated exactly what you did on the video and I still get all four sides feathering, not just the bottom. I don’t know what I’m missing!

  7. August 23, 2009    

    @Mark: if you take a look at the youtube video you’ll see that you can indeed have a soft edge on one side, using photoshop, but it takes this trick to make it work. 😉

  8. Mark Hebert Mark Hebert
    August 20, 2009    

    OK, I just expanded the mask outside the edges and that handled that. Sheesh!

  9. Mark Hebert Mark Hebert
    August 20, 2009    


    I can’t get it to do only one edge in PS! I have used ID Directional Feather Effect for this recently but can’t get the control I get in PS.

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