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How to fix edges in Photoshop for perfect cutouts

Removing edge fringes and halos from Photoshop Cutouts.

In this Photoshop tutorial, I’ll show you how to fix edges to make them perfect. Often when cutting out images you are left with dark or light edges. These are called halos or fringes. They are easily removed and I’ll show you exactly how I like to do it. These are other options such as using the matting tools in Photoshop to fix the edges, but I prefer this method for photos of people, because I don’t want to treat the hair the same as the skin areas. If you do that, you will risk creating “helmet hair”. To fix the hair, I like to use the refine brush in Select and mask and can be found in my extracting tutorials. More tutorials listed at the bottom.

Speaking of other tutorials, feel free to use the search bar at the top of PhotoshopCAFE (It works really well) and you will discover tons of other useful tutorials, just like this one.

Check out the video to see the steps and then read the written instruction for clarity and reference. (bookmark and share this page)

Let’s begin with a photo I recently shot, while preparing images for my Lightroom Classic training course here at the CAFE.  (Thanks Callan, for modeling for me). Here is a photograph I have cut out and you will notice the dark edges around the skin. (I placed it on this bright background to make it easy for you to see the edges).

Zooming in for a close look, You can see the edges are very obvious and need some work. (Don’t worry about the hair, the focus on this tutorial is the hard edges).

Step 1 // Load the selection.

Hold down Ctrl/Cmd and click on the layer was thumbnail (Ctrl+click the layer instead if you didn’t use a mask)

Step 2 // Contract the selection.

Choose Select>Modify>Contract and enter a setting of 2 pixels

Step 3 //

Choose Select>Modify>Feather. Set it to one pixel.

Step 4 //

Right now we need to swap the selection, so that the outside is selected and just the 2 pixels of the outside edge.

Press Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+I or select>inverse from the menu

Step 5 // brush away the edge halo

Choose a brush and set the color to black and the opacity to 100

Step 6.  //Paint the edges

With the layer Mask selected Paint on the edges and you will see the fringe disappear and a nice smooth edge as you paint. Sometimes, you may need to paint over the edge 2x if you aren’t getting the desired result in the first pass. The feather allows for 2 passes.

I pressed Ctrl/Cmd+H to hide the selection so I can see better while repairing the edge.
(If you extracted on the layer instead of using a mask, use the eraser tool instead).


To finish up the piece, I painted around all the indicated edges.

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More info here

Here are some of my other tutorials on extracting things from backgrounds in Photoshop

List of some of the Photoshop cutout tutorials here at PhotoshopCAFE. Most contain both video and detailed written steps.

Thanks for checking out this tutorial. Come back for now tutorials every week.

Don’t forget to join our list for more free tutorials and Photoshop tips. 

Great to see you here at the CAFE.



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109 responses to “How to fix edges in Photoshop for perfect cutouts”

  1. Mac User. I like the videos showing difficult masking situations and ways to make good selections. Keep them coming. Thanks.

  2. Hi Colin
    I’m an Apple Pro 2010 user. I have a samsung 4k monitor, Not colour correct but calibrated. Used to use a PC but had so much trouble with hanging, Wacom intuos pro medium, unresponsive etc. With the Apple I have continous use not issues at all save for being slow. 2.4 which i will upgrade to 3.6 in the near future. But still at this slow speed still ants pants 🙂

  3. PC with SSD and lots of RAM. Thank you so much for all your tutorials. I spend most of my time turning photos into paintings. I wish I had more artistic talent. Also work on composites.

  4. 2, Windows 7 & 3Windows 10 desktops, 3 Surface tablets, 2 Surface laptops, 1 Wacom Intuos tablet.
    Grateful for your tips & teaching moments.

  5. Hi Colin! As always, another master technique. Thank you.
    Yes: can’t have enough hair tutorials, the pariah of Selections.
    I’m on a Windows PC.

  6. Mac user from UK – I always enjoy your tutorials, albeit I do not understand every one. Keep up the good work

  7. I use both a Mac AND a PC (with PC most often) Your tutorials are wonderful Colin. Thank you for this great tip on working extractions with the masked selection. Easy and wonderful results.

  8. Hi Colin. Great tip and tutorial. I have used both PC’s and Mac. I use a PC which I have built. Much faster than Mac.

  9. Hi Colin,
    I’m using a PC with Windows 10 and Photoshop CS6. Many thanks for the tutorials they are easy to follow and contain lots of helpful tips for the amateur.

  10. MAC user. Love you tutorials. I’ve followed you for years. I am wondering if you would do a tutorial on cutting out a non-portrait. My current project is macro/micro butterfly images and I have a hard. The edges of the butterfly can be brown, white and black and aren’t smooth. I’ve shot on a black background and white but they’re both difficult. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  11. good tutorial I am pc user ant tips or tutorials on setting up Wacom tablet I have a intuos pro small thanks for everything have happy christmas

  12. Love your tutorials. However, when I wish to recall a forgotten suggestion that you made (e.g. selections other than made in this tutorial), I find it difficult to find on your website. Would it be possible to include a search tool on the site?

    Again, many thanks and much appreciation.

    • Hi there

      There IS a search tool on the site 🙂
      Look at the top to the right of account, click that magnifying glass 🙂

  13. Mac user. Your tutorials have made such a difference in the quality of my photo manipulations, thanks for keeping them simple.

  14. I am a PC user who recently retired after 30 years in federal and state crime labs. I started with Photoshop 4. Now that I am volunteering at a local history museum, I have found that I have had to learn the artistic and retouching side of Photoshop. Your tutorials and training DVDs have been a big help. We get a lot of old and damaged blueprints, maps, negatives and photographs that need to be enhanced and/or restored. Thank you for all you do for the profession.

  15. Hallo Colin,
    cut out hair is a problem any time I troggle about it.
    I am an pc youser. Your tutorials are yous full to me.
    Thanks a lot

  16. This was the perfect tip – oh those dreaded black edges and struggling to remove them! No more!
    I am a PC user

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