Reversing Feathering of Selections


Today’s Question: I have an image [in Photoshop] where I had added an adjustment layer based on a selection that I had already applied feathering to. Now that I’ve saved and closed the layered image, is there any way to reduce (or remove) the feathering for the layer mask? The feathered mask is causing too much blending along the edges of my adjustment.

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can compensate for too much feathering in a layer mask using the Contrast slider in the Select and Mask workspace.

More Detail: Feathering is a selection or layer mask provides a transition along the edges, which enables a targeted adjustment or element of a composite image to blend into the surrounding image, creating a more realistic look. However, while feathering can be very important, too much can be a problem.

Naturally, if you realize that the setting for the Feather slider on the Properties panel is too high, you can simply reduce that value. But if you had feathered the selection that the layer mask was based on it will be too late to simply reduce the setting for feathering. Instead, you’ll need to add contrast to the feathered layer mask.

First, make sure that the layer mask in question is active, which you can do by simply clicking on the thumbnail for the layer mask on the Layers panel. Then, on the Masks tab of the Properties panel click the “Select and Mask” button. That will bring up the Select and Mask workspace, where you can increase the value for the Contrast slider to tighten up the transition for the layer mask.

Feathering, by the way, is the exact same thing as blurring a layer mask. Increasing the value for the Contrast slider for a layer mask can be thought of as essentially sharpening the edge of the layer mask, enhancing contrast so the transition will occur over a smaller distance. The result isn’t quite as smooth as if you had not applied too much feathering in the first place, but the adjustment can still be very effective.