Rounding Off Corners

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Using 3 Different methods:
1) Channels method (a and b)
2) Quick mask method
3) Unsharp method (experimenting)
Each of these methods is unique to itself, and each has its own pros and cons. But overall, any of them will work in most situation. It will depend on your own specific needs. Take note here that none of these methods are to be applied to circles or curved shapes, they will distort those shapes. Feel free though to experiment with applying these methods to pre-curved shapes; who knows... maybe you'll like the distortions that are produced!

For the purpose of instruction, we'll be using a new document. So before starting any of these methods, create one now using the following attributes:

Size: w300 x h300 pixels
Resolution: 72ppi
Mode: RGB
Contents: White

Step 1 - Method 1a: Using the 'Levels' filter (w/channels)
Create a new layer, and open or go to your Channels palette. Make sure your channel is filled with black.
Step 2
Use the Rectangular selection tool and create your square cornered shape (see 'Quick Note' below). Then fill the selection with white. Hold down the Shift key if you want a perfect square shape. Then Duplicate this channel and work on the duplicate.

NOTE For anyone wanting to round off the corners of a photograph or other image that's already created, don't use the selection tool to manually create your selection. Instead, Ctrl-click on the layer containing your photo/image to select it. Then go to the channels palette, and use the selection of the photo/image as the selection for your channel. Then continue with step 2 - i.e. filling it with white and duplicating.

Step 3
Deselect the shape now, and apply a Gaussian blur of 6 pixels to the channel. Take note that more blurring will result in more rounding of the corners, and less blurring will produce only slightly rounded, or smaller rounded corners.

Step 4
Press Ctrl+L to open the Levels filter.
Then apply the filter with these settings:
Black slider = 130 / Center (neutral) slider = 1.00 / White slider = 148

The black and white slider numbers may differ slightly for you, depending on the specific shape and size of your square or rectangle shape. But the numbers given here should get you quite close to a finished effect.

One thing to note here is that if you're using this method on smaller sized shapes, try setting the Black slider setting to 120, not 130.

Step 5
At this point, Ctrl-Click the channel to load the selection you've created. Then go back to the Layers palette, and on the new layer you created fill the selection with whatever color, pattern or texture you'd like. Or, you can even use it as a Layer Mask too.

Step 1 - Method 1b: Using the 'Brightness & Contrast' filter (w/channels)
This method is a combination of the Levels and Quick Mask methods, and works the best for complex or intricate shapes, where you'd like to have multiple curved corners.

Repeat steps 1 through 3 of the previous method.

Step 2
Now instead of using the Levels filter, open the Brightness & Contrast filter.
Use these settings:
Brightness = minus 35 (to retain shape's original size)
Contrast = plus 90 (to smooth out the corners)

Step 3
Repeat step 5 of the previous method.

Pros: Very fast method, and the one I use most often. Not that difficult to learn, understand and apply. And you always have a saved version of your finished shape - i.e. the source shape in the channels palette.

Cons: None really, it's fairly simple. And you don't really have to learn anything about using the Channels palette to apply this method.

About the Brightness setting
A setting of minus 35 is needed in this method because Feathering our selection and using a high Contrast setting increased our shape's size.

Sizing Issues
If you go below minus 35 with the Brightness, your shape will become smaller than you intended it to be, and the corners will get tighter or smaller. If you set it at any positive value your shape's size will increase, and the corners will get bigger or rounder. Plus 70-75 is about the highest you can go and still maintain clean edges. In essence, this effect is similar to using the Minimum & Maximum filters. Try it!

Creating Complex Shapes
You can also combine more than one square or rectangle to create a larger, more complex shape. Simply create each individual shape in its own channel, then combine them all together to form the more complex shape; Ctrl-Click one of your shape channels, then hold both the Shift and Ctrl keys and click on the other channels that you've created. Once the separate shape selections are combined, create a new channel and fill the combined selections with white. If you wish, you can delete the separate shape channels and keep just your larger shape channel.

Ok that's method one. Let's move on to the 2nd method.

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Copyright © Mark Anthony Larmand

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