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How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

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When you’re working with images in Photoshop, getting perfect selections lets you work in great detail. But the pen and lasso tools don’t make it easy to capture small details in complex areas. The magic wand tool can help, but it’s unpredictable.

If your selection isn’t spot-on, though, your design will suffer. So what are you to do? Worry not, as Photoshop’s Refine Edge tool can come to the rescue.

It’s now hidden behind the new Select and Mask tools Adobe Photoshop CC 2018: 9 Great New Features Adobe Photoshop CC 2018: 9 Great New Features Photoshop CC 2018 is here! And it has some awesome new features. Click to see nine features that will change the way you use Photoshop. Read More , but it’s still one of the most useful functions that Photoshop CC has to offer.

Let’s check it out.

When to Use Refine Edge in Photoshop

You can use Refine Edge on any image, but it really shines when you have a foreground that you’re trying to select against a contrasting background. It’s also best when you’re working with complex edges, like hair (which we’ll be using for this tutorial). Anything with straight lines is easy enough to get with the pen tool.

But lots of small projects, transitions, and blank spots will benefit from the Refine Edge tool. Once you learn how to use it, you can employ the tool on any image. It’s especially good when you’re changing the background of an image How to Change the Background of a Photo in Photoshop How to Change the Background of a Photo in Photoshop Changing the background of an image is one of Photoshop’s core features.

Read on to find out how to do it. Read More . But in time you’ll learn which images it’s best used on. Let’s take a look at how to use Refine Edge.

Step 1: Make a Loose Selection

You can use the Refine Edge tool on an entire image, but you’ll get better results if you help Photoshop focus on the area you’re interested in.

Here’s the image we’ll be using: To isolate the subject from the background, we’re going to have to get a selection that includes her hair.

Especially on the left side, that would be difficult–if not impossible–with the pen tool. Before we start using Photoshop’s Refine Edge tool, though, it helps to make a general selection. First, duplicate the layer by right-clicking Layer 0 and selecting Duplicate Layer.

We’ll name the new layer “Background”. We’ll use the pen tool to outline the woman’s face and narrow down the selection around her hair.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Now, select the Paths tab, right click Work Path, and turn this path into a selection. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Finally, turn that selection into a layer mask. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Step 2: Open Select and Mask Tools

Nothing happens to the image when you add the layer mask. To see your selection more clearly, make the background layer invisible.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Now we have a better idea of what we’ve actually selected. To get to the Refine Edge tool, we’ll need to open the Select and Mask window.

Select the rectangular marquee tool (keyboard shortcut M) or the lasso tool (keyboard shortcut L). You’ll see a button in the menu bar that says Select and Mask. Click that button to open a new window.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Note: To make it a bit easier to see where the Refine Edge tool makes changes, I’ve added a layer and filled it with pink. Select the Refine Edge Brush Tool.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Step 3: Brush on Your Selection

With this tool selected, we’ll brush around the edges that we want Photoshop to refine. Before we start, though, you may want to change the size of the brush. There’s a brush-size dropdown in the menu bar that lets you quickly increase or decrease the brush size.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections It can be helpful to start with a larger brush and then move to a smaller one as the selection gets finer. Now, brush over the area.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Photoshop extracts contrasting pixels for your selection much faster than you could with a manual tool. As you can see, the selection isn’t perfect.

But it’s a lot faster than manual methods. Keep brushing until you get the selection you want. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Step 4: Tweak the Selection

Once you’ve made your selection with the Refine Edge tool, it’s time to make a few tweaks to improve it.

The first thing to try is Decontaminate Colors. In the Properties tab, scroll down until you see the Decontaminate Colors checkbox. Click it and check out the results.

Here you can see the difference between the two options: How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections In our case, some of the edges get a bit sharper, so we’ll leave the decontamination on.

Below this checkbox, you’ll find the Output To: dropdown. You can send this selection to a new layer mask or to the existing mask. We’ll select Layer Mask to add it to our current mask.

How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Click OK. Now we can make a few more tweaks.

For example, in this area, the Refine Edge tool made part of the woman’s hair transparent. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections Select the layer mask and the brush tool (keyboard shortcut B).

Set the foreground color to black and paint over the area that’s been misselected. How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections You can use a brush to clean up any of the selection that you’re not happy with.

Once you’ve selected the area you want, you can start making adjustments to your background. (I’ve added an adjustment layer to turn the background black and white for a selective-color look.) How to Use Photoshop’s Refine Edge Tool for Perfect Selections

Now Keep Practicing With the Refine Edge Tool

While Photoshop’s edge-detection tools are very advanced, they’re not perfect. So you’re going to need to practice working with them and tweaking your final selections.

You might feather the selection to capture a bit of the foreground and a bit of the background. Or use a very small brush to catch even smaller details that Photoshop didn’t. You can also play around with the Refine Edge settings, like Feather and Contrast, to see how they affect your selections.

Like any other tool in Photoshop, it takes a while to get proficient with Refine Edge.

But with practice, you can become an edge-refining master, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering all kinds of Photoshop techniques 7 Techniques to Help You Start Learning Photoshop 7 Techniques to Help You Start Learning Photoshop There are many different ways to learn Photoshop from scratch.

These simple techniques can help anyone to start learning Photoshop. Read More .

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8 Surprising Uses for Linux That You Can (Mostly) Try Yourself

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Linux is highly configurable and adaptable. Plus, it’s free! With all of these qualities, it may not be a surprise to hear that people use Linux to do all kinds of tasks 8 Ways Linux Is Taking Over the World 8 Ways Linux Is Taking Over the World Linux doesn’t only run on home computers and web servers.

Here are some of the most unusual ways Linux is being used around the world. Read More . Still, you may be surprised by some of the niche ways that people have put Linux to use. You may even want to take on some of these projects yourself.

1.

Run a Radio Station

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Have you ever thought about what goes into running a radio station? While this form of media has been around for over a century, these days operators use computers to make the magic happen.

If you’re looking to get into this line of work, you may be able to save some money by using free software. The Open Source Radio project has a Wiki and a GitHub page packed with resources for people looking to create and run their own stations. There you can find example studio setups, see what operating systems people have installed, get help creating low power FM stations, and more. GNU Radio is another community to add to your list.

2.

Create Your Own Car Dashboard

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Cars have long come with gauges that show how fast you’re moving and other important metrics. Newer cars often display that information digitally.

They also come with other bells and whistles that are nice-to-haves, such as Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreens, and built-in navigation. Many car manufacturers use Linux to power these systems. Not only that, you can use Linux to create your own.

A few developers have experimented with the idea using Linux and the Qt toolkit, or you can cobble together something using a Raspberry Pi (shown in the video above). Though you may find pairing an OBD2 dongle with an Android app to be a more pragmatic option Use Any Android Device to Fix the Check Engine Light in Your Car Use Any Android Device to Fix the Check Engine Light in Your Car Have a Check Engine light in your car? Using a free Android app, you can see what’s wrong and clear the light without visiting a mechanic. Read More .

3.

Monitor and Analyze Your Solar Panels

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The cost of solar panels is dropping rapidly. While turning to the sun for energy still requires a costly upfront investment, doing so can save you money in the long-run How to Calculate True Solar Panel Cost For Your Home How to Calculate True Solar Panel Cost For Your Home Perhaps you need to figure out what the cost of a home solar system will be after federal, state, and municipal incentives?

Let’s take a look at how to figure that out. Read More . This is the case even in many less-than-sunny regions. How much energy are you getting from your panels?

Are you getting a solid return on your investment? The US Department of Energy provides the PVWatts site as a free way to answer these questions. But if you want to go more in depth, the department has released its System Advisor Model tool as open-source software for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

4.

Water Your Yard or Garden

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Is your existing sprinkler controller incompetent at the job of spraying water across the plants in your yard? With Linux and an old computer or a small single-board PC (such as Arduino hardware or a Raspberry Pi), you can take matters into your own hands 7 Geeky Ways to Automate Your Gardening This Spring 7 Geeky Ways to Automate Your Gardening This Spring Gardening is often enjoyable, but always time consuming.

So why not automate the more demanding gardening tasks to claw back some of that free time? Read More . Instructables has a guide for people looking to make use of an old PC. The video above shows what you can do using OpenSprinkler, which now lets you control your system using a smartphone.

Don’t want to make your own? You’re in luck. Now you can buy a Linux-powered one.

5.

Provide In-Flight Entertainment

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Airlines have to deal with some of the most peculiar technical constraints of any place “on” the planet. One question that eventually comes up: What software should you use to power the in-flight entertainment systems?

Turns out, many airlines use Linux. According to the Linux Insider, Linux in-flight entertainment systems have appeared on airlines ranging from US-based United to Dubai-based Emirates and Air New Zealand. If you happen to have private jet money, maybe you can do the same.

CoKinetic is one company that specializes in predominantly Linux-powered in-flight entertainment (versions of its products are also available for Windows and Mac).

6. Automate Drones

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You know drones are coming 4 Ways Drones Will Actually Benefit Your Day-to-Day Life 4 Ways Drones Will Actually Benefit Your Day-to-Day Life Drones are more than just toys.

In fact, in just a few more years, they will actually make your life better and more comfortable. Read More , but did you know many of them rely on Linux? Of course, the extent to which they depend on Linux varies. Some combine Linux with a real-time operating system subsystem.

Often Linux powers the controller program on your PC, rather than the code on the drone itself. However you shake it, Linux is an active part of the drone ecosystem. ArduPilot is a popular open source autopilot program that you can run on Linux.

With open or supported hardware, such as the Pixhawk series, you can configure your own autonomous vehicle to take to the skies. Check out Linux.com for a lengthy list of projects.

7. Monitor Earthquakes

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When you live in an earthquake prone area, natural disasters may be as likely to come from below as above. While we can’t prevent them from happening, you can get a heads up when one is about to impact your home or business. The United States Geological Survey provides a program called ShakeCast that can send notifications within minutes of an earthquake.

The software depends on ShakeMap, which shows the magnitude of an earthquake and the affected area. For this, you want a server version of Linux (CentOS 6 is explicitly supported). If you prefer Windows, you can go that route as well.

8.

Control Your Home’s Indoor Climate

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You can’t buy a thermostat from a hardware store these days without seeing a selection of “smart” options front and center. Yet there are various reasons to view these products with skepticism Smart Home Data Collection: Are Companies Going Too Far? Smart Home Data Collection: Are Companies Going Too Far? Sure, Smart Home devices make our lives easier.

But they also turn every detail of our lives into data. How much invasion of privacy is too much? It’s hard to say. Read More .

Even if you don’t, the cost may be off-putting. Either way, Linux lets you take the DIY approach. Someone has made their own using a Raspberry Pi, and you can do the same.

You do also need a relay module for HVAC controller and a digital temperature sensor, plus a willingness to learn some code.

What Has Linux Helped You Do?

There are countless ways to put Linux to use.

What projects have you tackled, either for fun or for work?

If you’re feeling inspired to experiment and you’re looking for ideas, here are more impressive (or amusing) things you can do with a Raspberry Pi The 13 Best Raspberry Pi Projects of 2017 The 13 Best Raspberry Pi Projects of 2017 You’ll be blown away by these impressively creative Raspberry Pi projects. Read More .

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Sony Xperia Ear Duo review

The line between headphones and hearables is blending together now more than ever, and Sony’s Xperia Ear Duo is one of the most innovative products we’ve seen on the market that tries to push those two ideas together. Hearables are devices that can offer similar functionality to a smartwatch, such as giving you notifications from your phone, updates from apps and other functionality, but this all comes directly into your ear through audio rather than on a display as on a watch or phone.

The Xperia Ear Duo follows on from 2017’s debut product in this category for Sony, which was the Sony Xperia Ear open-style and which wasn’t a particularly popular product and which we didn’t get to test properly. This new product brings two hearables to the mix in one package.

The Xperia Ear Duo is similar to true wireless headphones we’ve seen in the past, such as the Apple AirPods, where there’s no wire between the two Bluetooth earpieces. This looks different though as it hooks around your entire ear and looks more like a Bluetooth headset from the late noughties rather than offering a stylish and distinctive look. Here’s our full verdict on the Sony Xperia Ear Duo and whether it’s worth picking up to hear your notifications and listen to music.

Sony Xperia Ear Duo price and release date

  • Announced at MWC 2018, released in June 2018 in the US and UK
  • Price set at £279.99 or GBP249 (about AU£380)
  • Quite expensive considering competition

Announced at MWC 2018, the Xperia Ear Duo was one of few wearable devices announced at the show and it was particularly eye-grabbing as it’s such as strange idea to begin with.

Those in the US can buy the Xperia Ear Duo, but it’s not particularly cheap with an RRP of £279.99 or GBP249 (about AU£380). The Xperia Ear Duo is hard to find online in the UK right now, but you can buy it from select retailers in store and we hope it will appear at more online retailers soon. An Australian release hasn’t been made clear yet, but we’d also hope for Sony to bring the hearable to that market as soon as possible

In terms of compatibility, the Xperia Ear Duo will work with any phone that’s running Android 5.0 or higher, while those with an iPhone will be able to use it if their phone is running iOS 10 or later.

Design

  • An outright odd design that’s difficult to put into your ear
  • Hook around your earlobe with touchpads on the sides to interact
  • Comes in a wireless charging case that’s large but portable

There’s no getting away from the odd design Sony has chosen for the Xperia Ear Duo, so we’ll start with that. This is a headset that looks unique, but also reflects a lot of what we’ve seen change in recent years with the introduction of true wireless headsets. The Ear Duo is made up of two earpieces that aren’t connected by a wire, which is what true wireless means.

These both sit within a wireless charging case – more about that later – so you can carry them around and ensure you don’t lose one when you’re walking around.

Unlike Apple AirPods and most other true wireless headphones we’ve used, the Sony Xperia Ear Duo actually looks more like the Bluetooth headsets you used to see wrapped around the ears of business people. There’s a thick piece of tech that houses the battery, the touchpad to interact with it and a variety of other sensors. That sits behind your ear, then a small metal band bends around your ear and provides the earpiece so you can hear the audio.

When we first took the Xperia Ear Duo out of the box we were a little confused by how to wear them.

There’s a handy guide in the box to demonstrate the way you’re meant to put them in, but it’s inherently a problem that they’re so confusing looking that the company has to include that message. We asked other people to try and wear them in the TechRadar office, and often people found them uncomfortable to put into their ears even when they knew how to do it. We’ve been wearing the headphones for over a week, but we still struggle to put them in our ears.

Once you’re used to how the headphones work, it’ll still take you around 10 seconds to hook each one around your ear.

Perhaps we have particularly long earlobes, but we often found ourselves struggling to get the earpiece around the bottom of our ear comfortably on the first go. It’s an odd feeling to have this large piece of tech sitting behind your ear, but it’s not particularly uncomfortable. Each is light, so they sit in your ear well and won’t weigh down either side of your head.

As it’s such a complicated thing to explain, we’ve shared this video that may help you understand exactly how the Xperia Ear Duo sits around your ear.

I’ve been using the Sony Xperia Ear Duo for almost two weeks and I’m still struggling to put them in. Here’s my best attempt so far: pic.twitter.com/AVmooEzTvd22 June 2018

You have three choices of inner ear pieces with small, medium and large being the options. We took some time to figure out that medium was the perfect size, but so far the inner part of the headset has been comfortable.

We’ve also never felt like they could fall out of our ears, which is something that can’t be said of Apple AirPods. To access the smart features, you use your finger along the sides of the bits that sit behind your ears. This is easy to reach and works well.

You can adjust the volume (by running your finger up one of the touchpads) as well as pause and play your music by tapping on them. One interesting quirk is that you can only pause by tapping on the left earpiece, so you have to wear both earpieces to be able to use the headset properly. You can change the volume on both, but if you’re only wearing the right one for some reason it means you’ll lose the ability to quickly pause the music.

Instead, you can long press on the right one to open up Google Assistant, while a quick tap on this one will offer your notifications.

There’s no getting around the fact the Xperia Ear Duo headset looks silly. That said, we also don’t particularly love the look of Apple AirPods, but those have become a popular choice for iPhone fans so it may be that the Sony Xperia Ear Duo is a look many begin to adopt. If you do plan to buy the Xperia Ear Duo, you can buy it in either black (pictured throughout this review) or in a gold color.

When we originally tested the Xperia Ear Duo we saw them in silver too but it looks like Sony decided against that color for the full release. The charging case that comes with the Xperia Ear Duo is large, but it’s easy to slot into a small bag or even your back pocket. It’s thin, and while the round design is large it’s not an oversized case.

This isn’t as slim and easy to carry around as Apple AirPods and its charging case though, so if you’re looking for an easily portable device this may not be right up your street.

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