Once upon a year, there was a nice little Refine Mask dialog box that worked very well in regards to cleaning up selection edges and the like. In Adobe Photoshop CC version 2015.5, however, came the wonderful new Select & Mask workspace that replaced it. You’ve all seen this new Select & Mask workspace. I just wrote about it in my last post and in about a dozen others on this website. The thing is, there’s still a secret method for accessing the old dialog and that dialog can give us some interesting and creative results if used properly. While the new workspace is incredible, the old one still has its uses.
In today’s post, I’d like to work through a project that has to do with text effects in Adobe Photoshop. I’ll first write out some text and then select it. After that, I’ll create a mask so a photo of some leaves becomes the background of the text. I’ll then use the Refine Mask dialog I just spoke of to give the text some rough edges that will make things appear much more natural. I’ll finish up by applying some more traditional layer effects to the text. While I won’t go into these final effects too deeply, I’ll tell you which ones I used.
I think you’ll get a lot out of this post. If nothing else, you’ll learn about the hidden Refine Mask dialog and that you can create rugged edges to selections through this dialog.
The Demo Images
I’ll be using two different images for this post. The first is a wooden background of some type and the other is of the leaves I’ll be using to fill the text with. Here they are.
Selecting the Text
Okay, I’ve already gone ahead and opened both image files (the same ones as above) in Photoshop. I dragged one of the images over into the other’s workspace, so now they’re both together in the same file. The wooden planks are the background and the leaves are a separate layer. I’ll go ahead and hide the leaves so they’re not visible. Then, I’ll write out text on two different layer. The first chunk of text will say LEAVES and the second will say FOR FALL. I am completely making these things up because I have a very limited imagination. Zero creativity.
Here’s what things look like. First is the text on the wood board background.
And second is the Layers panel, just to give you a better idea of what’s going on.
An Easy Way to Select Text
If you ever wanted to select text before and have had trouble doing so, I’ve got a treat for you. I’m going to select the LEAVES text in my project. To do so, I’ll hold down the Ctrl (Command) key on my keyboard and then I’ll click the text layer thumbnail. Take a look.
When I do that, the text in the layer I clicked will immediately become selected. Once I see that it’s selected, I’ll hide the text layer by clicking on the little eye icon that sits over to the left in the layer (in the Layers panel).
Creating a Mask
At this point, my goal is to turn those leaves into the background for the text I just selected. To make this happen, all I need to do is click on the leaves layer in the Layers panel and then click on the Create Layer Mask button down at the bottom of the same panel.
Doing this will give me the look I’m going for. The white in the letters will have turned into leaves.
This is what the leaves layer looks like in the Layers panel now.
Things are coming along nicely.
Launching the Old Refine Mask Dialog
My next goal is to make the edges of the letters I just turned into leaves, rough. I don’t like the way they’re all perfect and straight. I’d like to make them look more natural. I think I can accomplish this with the Refine Mask dialog. While I could roughen things up a bit in the Select & Mask dialog, the Refine Mask dialog works off of old technology and in this case, that old technology actually gives me a better result.
To launch the Refine Mask dialog, I’ll first click on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. Then, I’ll press and hold down the Shift key on my keyboard and finally, I’ll head up to the Select > Select and Mask menu item up top.
The result of those actions is the dialog box I referred to above.
Pretty cool, right? It looks like a miniature version of the new Select & Mask workspace.
Changing Some Slider Positions in the Refine Mask Dialog
The first thing I’m going to do in this dialog is to change the view of what I’m working on. I’ll select On Layers from the View drop-down. After that, I’ll check the Smart Radius box and then push the Radius slider until it has a value of 30px. Lastly, I’ll push the Contrast slider until it has a value of 50%. When I’m done, I’ll click on the OK button to apply the values I just described.
Take a look at what I’ve done to the edges of the letters.
Adding Some Layer Styles
So far, everything is looking really good. I do realize, however, that I could have chosen a darker wooden background, so the text was more visible. I’d like a little definition there. To work around this, I’ll add some layer styles to each piece of text. And since I’ve already written about layer styles a number of times, I’ll leave out the details and just get to it.
I’ll double-click the larger text layer in the Layers panel. When I do this, the Layer Style dialog box will appear. Inside this dialog, I’ll move into the Drop Shadow effect section and then push a few sliders around and set some of the attributes.
I’ll click the OK button when I’m finished.
After that, I’ll do the same thing for the other text layer, but this time, I won’t only focus on the Drop-Shadow; I’ll also focus on the Stroke, Inner Shadow and Inner Glow. I’ll set all of these attributes that so things look the way I’d like and then, again, I’ll click the OK button. And finally, for the FOR FALL text again, I’ll reduce the Fill value to 0%, so we’ll be able to essentially see right through that layer. Only the effects will be visible, giving it a neat look.
When it’s all said and done, this is what I’ll have.
I know this example is a bit ridiculous and that no one would probably ever create anything like this, but it does show how to access and work with the older Refine Mask dialog and really, that’s what I was after.
I hope I clearly demonstrated how to access and use the Refine Edge dialog in Adobe Photoshop. I also hope I let you in on a few other tricks you may have never seen. If you have any questions regarding this post, please let me know in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!