If you want to remove the background, or combine images in Photoshop (called compositing), you will need to use selections.

When you make selections and cutouts in Photoshops and you look at the edges, often you will see 3 main problems. I call these, the Cloudies, the jaggies and the Fringies.

Cloudies: Edges that aren’t 100% transparent, they aren’t clean Such as around hair and fur. (Technical name, ghosting).

jaggies: Smooth edges, that are anything but. This is often seen on the edges of skin and limbs, or hard surfaces. (Technical name, pixelization)

Fringies. Often a light or dark line around the edge. Sometimes a colored edge.(Technical name, halos)

This tutorial gives you 5 tips on removing these issues.

USING SELECT AND MASK AND MAKING A SIMPLE SELECTION Here is the procedure for making a rapid selection and adjusting the edges in Photoshop using the default tools. This should be carried out first and frequently enough to choose men. This is not a tutorial on selections; it is a tutorial on edges. I explain the many methods for making selections in Photoshop in a variety of tutorials. select using the quick selection or object selection tool. Select Cloud from the toolbar.

Click Select Subject

You will see the marching ant selection


Let’s clean up the selection

Choose Select and Mask

Here we see a dark fringe around the hat

Change to Black Bacdrop and you can see the light fringing around her jacket

Choose the Refine brush and run it around the edge of the woolen hat and hair

2 more settings, I always use

Set radius to 1

Choose Decontaminate Colors Sometimes you need to adjust the Amount slider

Select the New Layer as Layer Mask option when opening. Always wear a mask.

That was the fundamental process. Let’s have a look at a couple additional methods that address particular problems.

Let’s correct this image’s edge halo.

Click on the Layer mask to edit the mask, not the photo.

Choose Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur

Enter a number between 2-3

Click ok

This will blur the mask and soften the edge

Press Ctrl/Cmd+L for levels

As you move the black and gray triangles (sliders) to the right, you will see a nice, crisp and clean edge appear.

See the colored edge is removed. This technique works on jaggies too. continue to see.


There is another, faster way to remove edge halos

With the Mask, selected, choose Filter>Other>Minimum

Change to Roundness and move the slider

As you move the slider, you will see the edge shrink and hide the colored edge.


In this tip, we will fix 2 problems, but also combine techniques for a better all around selection

Choose Select Subject

Go to Select and mask

Notice that the enclosed areas of the hair, still shows the background color

Drag the refine brush over those areas

Click ok the apply and go into Photoshop

Notice, the cloudies. Around the edges of the hair, you can see a cloudy bit of dark gray. This wouldn’t show up if the image was dropped onto a medium or light background. But right now, I’m displaying it on black and you can see the issue.

Choose the Layer mask.

Press Ctrl/Cmd+L (Don’t blur the mask this time)

Move in the middle slider and the black slider o the right. Be subtle and gentle. You will see that you can clean out the cloudies and get a nice clean edge, even in hair.

Duplicate this layer.


Because we want to fix more than one part of the edge on the same image, we don’t want to use the same settings for hair and solid edges. The same technique doesn’t work for both. Here is how we combine techniques.

Duplicate the hair adjustment that we just did.

Hide the hair layer and choose the duplicate layer.

Now we want to fix the jaggies. See how the edge on the shoulder and neck isn’t nice and smooth.

Choose the Layer mask

Choose Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur (sound familiar?It is)

The edge will be blurred.

Press Ctrl/Cmd_L for levels

Move the sliders towards the center and tweak the middle slider until you get a nice smooth edge.

The hair will look bad, but it doesn’t matter, focus on the shoulder.

Click ok

Now we need to combine the 2

Grab the Lasso tool

Make a selection around the parts that contain the hair

Make sure the mask is active and fill with black to hide the area inside the selection. (Ctrl+Backspace (Win) / Cmd+Delete (mac) will fill with the background color).

Reveal the hair layer and now you can see the two layers combined provides the best overall edge. Remember, you can use any technique you like to clean up different parts of the edge and combine them. Speaking of, this last technique is my favorite, read on.


This technique can be used to paint away the edge halos and issues on the areas that you choose.

See the white fringe on this edge.

Ctrl/Cmd+Click on the Layer mask to load it into a selection.

Choose>Select>Modify>Contract and enter 1 pixel

Choose Select>Modify>Feather and enter 1 pixel

We currently have a soft single-pixel selection. I made this discovery more than ten years ago while working on print magazines in Photoshop 4 or 5, and it is still applicable to the most recent version of Photoshop. By the way, look for someone who has experience in print if you want to discover someone who can produce incredibly clean work. In high resolution print, you can see every detail, unlike online.

In order to position the one pixel precisely on the edge, we must select everything BUT our object.

Select Inverse from the menu, or press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+I.

Grab a brush (b key)

Choose black as the foreground color

Make sure the mask is selected and not the layer

But wait, you can’t see the edge because of the selection

Press Ctrl/Cmd+H to hide the selection. It’s still active, but hidden

Drag the brush up along the deg and watch it magically become perfect.

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