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Why is a Rectangular Marquee tool setting that affects the rounding of corners called "Feather"? Why not "Corner Radius"?
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Good question @Walter_H !
You have to remember that you are not drawing a shape (for that see the Rounded Rectangle Tool) but making a selection when using the Rectangular Marquee Tool.
When you use the Feather option with a selection tool like the Rectangular Marquee Tool, you are defining an area around the border of a selection which will only be partially affected by any changes you decide to make to that selection. This enables you to make soft, blended transitions rather than sharp ones. So when you get to the corner of the rectangle after setting the Feather option to greater than zero, the feathered areas of each side overlap one another giving the impression of a rounded corner. The marching ants which indicate the selection might lead you to think you've drawn a rounded rectangle, but under-the-hood it's just a side-effect of applying that feather option.
Hope that makes it a little clearer than mud 🙂
If you really do want to create a rounded rectangle and precisely set the corner radius - use the Rounded Rectangle Tool instead.
Back in the day artists would often use fine feathers, like from bird feathers, to soften edges in their paintings, or make very gentle changes in their paintings. They would use individual feathers stuck into quills from bigger feathers- pull the feather in a bit- it get harder, and more focused-- push it out- it gets softer. Wayback when people would make their own paintbrushes out of available materials --- sticks, hairs from various animals, and from the fethers of birds- all having different characteristics. Using feathers in painting is slow work.
Today I think users what to "soften" the edge of selections quickly and be done- I've always taken my time with feathering anything--- be slow--- be gentle-- "work it" (no different than feathering the edge of a good sheetrock repair after you put on spackle and need to "feather it" with sand paper).
Feathering is GENTLY blending in the edges of a selection so the edges of the selection don't look like the selection was cut out with scissors.
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Often when launching a new technological invention, familiar terminology from the past is used to help users get up and running as quickly as possible.
Photoshop is full of icons and terms taken from the worlds of traditional photography and fine art - e.g. the Zoom Tool magnifying glass icon, the Crop, Dodge and Burn Tools both in their names & icons, and of course, the Brush and Paint Bucket Tools. The "Feather" option is just another example.
Feather is short for "feathering" which is a fine art technique used for blending colors, historically performed with very fine feathers, hence the name. The term also crops up in the phrase "feathering with light" in photography, which means softening the light falling on the subject by angling the light away from the subject so it doesn't fall so harshly on them.
The best thing to do is think of feathering as blending, and the higher the feathering, the softer the blend.
OK, I got it!
I just used the Rectangular Marquee tool with a "Feather" of 50 and selected a portion of one photo, then copied it, and then pasted it into another photo. Now, I see the effect!
I like it - That will be a handy tool every now and then.
Thanks for your feedback!
Thanks for the explanation, Phil.
I was wondering how the word 'feathering' was translated into French.
The translation is 'lissage de contours = contour smoothing', which is less mysterious.
The following help doc details the two ways to get the effect, anti-aliasing and feathering: