Rounding Off Corners

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Step 1 - Method 2: Using the 'Quick Mask' (on a layer)
Create a new layer. You can stay in the Layers palette for this one if you like.

Step 2
Use the Rectangular selection tool and create your square cornered shape.

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, and use the selection of the photo/image as the selection for your layer. Then continue with step 3.

Step 3
Feather the selection - Selection / Feather. Generally I've noticed that the amount of feathering needed is equal to the amount of gaussian blur used in the Channels method;
i.e. 6 pixels feather = 6 pixels blur.
They produce the same end result. If you want more roundness, use a higher feather setting. Less/smaller roundness, use a smaller number for the setting.

Step 4
Click on the Quick Mask icon at the bottom of the Tool palette:
Quick mask button

Step 5
Go to Image / Adjust / Brightness and Contrast... and apply the filter with these settings:
Brightness = minus 35 (to retain shape's original size)
Contrast = plus 94 to 96 (to smooth out the corners)

Again, you may have to use slightly different numbers than these, depending on your specific shape's size, and the amount of feathering you've used. Start with these and tweak them until the corners look clean and smooth, without jagged edges.

Step 6
Switch back to Normal mode by pressing the button icon to the left of the Quick Mask button. Then fill the resulting selection with whatever color, pattern or texture you'd like. Then Deselect.

Pros: Very fast, and easy to learn. Allows you to stay within the Layers palette. Has a few more steps than the Levels method, but is a little quicker to do because you remain in the Layers palette; given that you're familiar with the steps and can move through them without stopping to think about things. Create an 'Action' for it, then it'll be real fast!

Cons: Other than the shape's edges not being as clean as the previous methods, none really, it's just a different way of achieving the effect. You won't have a 'backup' copy of your finished shape in case you need one. But this can be solved by saving a copy of your selection in the channels palette before Deselecting it - Select / Save Selection. Or simply use method 1b; which I believe gives better results.

About Feathering
Using a larger feather setting will produce larger wider corners, with more rounding in them. If you're going to use a feather setting above 10, you'll have to make adjustments in the Brightness & Contrast filter settings. Otherwise you won't get clean results.
Use these settings in this case: Brightness = minus 30 / Contrast = plus 96 to 98. Fine-tune these numbers if needed to produce clean edges, and smooth corners.
eg. If Feathering by 11-15, use plus 96 for Contrast. If Feathering 15-20 use plus 97 or 98 for Contrast.

About the Brightness setting
Generally a setting of minus 35 (or minus 30 for higher feathering) 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 on its own layer, then Merge them all together to form the more complex shape. Once merged together, Ctrl-Click the layer to load its selection.

Ok that's it for method two. Let's dive into some experimentation now and see yet another way to create this effect!

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