Never, never, never use the feather option on the option bar! It’s just plain silly!
Feather, option bar, danger!
This feature has been around for quite a while now and has caused more headaches for newbies and professional alike than all of the chocolate bars this side of Peru!
The truth is, applying feathering seperate from a selection is a far better way of softening your selection’s edge. Read on for the reasons why…
To understand why using this option bar feature is completely bad we need to look at what happens to our ‘History State’ (History palette) when we create a selection and add feathering to it.
As you can see in this example, I have created and Polygonal selection and then added feathering to it. If the amount of feather was incorrect, all I need to do is click on the state before it was added – in this case, the ‘Polygonal Lasso’ state. Job done.
However, if I were to repeat this experiment, but this time add the feathering value in the ‘Feather:’ option bar box and then create my selection, only 1 history state is generated – ‘Polygonal Lasso’…there is no way to undo this feathering if it is incorrect!
I have been using Adobe Photoshop on a professional level since 1996 and still 5 times out of 10 I have to double quess the amount of feathering that needs to be applied to a selection.
It get’s worst!
Adobe Photoshop is great at remembering things. Any setting, tool, colour, preference you set will be remembered next time you load the program up, not matter the length of time that passes.
Imagine this. On Monday, your Boss/Client asks you to create a selection around an object. You happen to know exactly what feather radius to use (a big up to you). You type it into the feathering box on the option bar, make your selection, do your stuff and the end effect is perfect.
On Friday, another selection is require – no feathering. You take time creating your selection…about 20 minutes. You complete your selection and then do your stuff…gasp!…the feathering that you applied on Monday has magically appeared around your selection! This is because you forgot to reset your feather radius that you set on Monday back to ‘0’! Oops, you can’t undo it because it is recorded as a single history state…what do you do? Start it again.
A better option
This won’t take long to say…use the ‘Feathering’ option found within the ‘Select’ menu (Select>Modify if using CS3). You can also use it’s shortcut – CTRL+Alt+D. I can’t make it plainer. You will save yourself hours of hurt.