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How to Design Feathered Edges on an Image in Photoshop

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This tutorial will explain how to create soft edges on an image in Photoshop so it will blend into the background. We will be using a photo of a 72 Chevrolet Nova and giving it a black background as shown below.
Image of Nova feathered with black edges.

1. Copy the original image:

Copy the image so you still have the original, and work from the copy.

2. Consider the finished size:

Before cropping the image leave enough background so you can feather the edges.

3. Touch up the image:

Blot out areas in the background that will distract from the quality of the image with the rubber stamp or smudge tool. Adjust contrast and brightness if needed.

4. Highlight the area you want to feather:

selecting the marquee tool
Use one of the selection tools to highlight the area you want to feather. The image on the left shows the rectangle marquee tool being selected. Use this tool for square or rectangular borders, or the oval marquee tool for rounded borders or the lasso tool for odd shaped images (the lasso tool is just below the marquee tool).

5. Make an even border:

calculating an even border
In order to highlight your border evenly on all edges turn on the ruler and measure the same amount in the numbered guide on both width and height. The image on the right is set for inches and the border is set for 3/10 of an inch on each corner. Your border may be more or less.

Nova with the border selected:

highlighted image of 72 Chevy Nova

6. Chose the background color:

choosing background color
You will be copying the image and pasting it onto another background but first you need to set the background color of the new image. The background color needs to be the same as the color of the page you are going to paste it on, i.e., you need to chose a black background for a black page.

Click on the the background tool and choose the preferred color by either clicking on a color in the color pallet, or if you'd rather use a color not listed in the color pallet you can enter another hex code for the color. If you want to match the background of your page use the eye dropper to get the hex color of your background and then type in that number.

7. Feather the image:

select feather
Now, go back to the highlighted image and choose "select / feather" in the menu and then choose a radius of 4 to 12 pixels to determine the width of feathered edge. You may not see a change, but just continue to the next step.

8. Copy and paste image

Now choose "edit / copy" and then "new". Photoshop will automatically open a new image box the same size as the one you copied. Make sure you specify the color of the background. Now choose "edit / paste" and the feathered image should show up in the box you just opened.

9. Save the new image

Select "edit / save" and you're done unless you want to "edit/copy/paste" your feathered image onto another image. The finished image as it appears on a black background appears below:

Image of Nova feathered with black edges.


Lori Eldridge
Copyright © 2004 - Updated 9-13-14
All Rights Reserved.

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