Rounding Off Corners

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Method 3: Using the 'Unsharp Mask' filter (on a layer)
This method is simply here to show you the hidden power that Photoshop has, if you just know where to find it. And it seems to work best for medium to large sized shapes.

Experimenting can be not only fun, but it also allows you a leisurely way of learning to get the most out of Photoshop. And on top of that, you'll begin to understand better the real hidden powers that Photoshop has, and you'll become more resourceful and versatile when using it.

The next method we'll look at I discovered while fooling around with the Unsharp Mask filter. It's also a good method for this effect, but it has a few quirks that need to be worked out. Try it anyway!

NOTE: This method uses the maximum settings for the Unsharp Mask filter, and you'll have to apply it 2 times - once at maximum, once at half. As such, it may take more time to finish applying itself depending on 3 things:
  1. the speed of your computer and amount of ram you have
  2. the size of your shape
  3. the amount of blur you use

The only way to find this out though is to apply it once and see how long it takes to finish. After that, you can judge for yourself whether this method is suitable for your computer. Don't rush the filter though. Type in the amount for each setting and wait for Photoshop to finish rendering the changes, then click the Ok button.

Step 1
Create a new layer

Step 2
Use the Rectangular selection tool and create a medium sized square - 185 x 185 pixels.

Step 3
Fill the selection with whatever color you'd like.

Step 4
Deselect, and apply a Gaussian blur of 8 pixels

Step 5
Open the Unsharp Mask filter - Filter / Sharpen / Unsharp Mask . When the filter opens, turn OFF the 'Preview' option by unticking the checkbox. Then apply the filter 2 times in a row, using these settings:
1st time - Amount = 500 (maximum) / Radius = 250 (maximum) / Threshold = 0
2nd time - Amount = 250 / Radius = 100 / Threshold = 0

Step 6
Go to the Filter menu and open the Maximum filter - Filter / Other / Maximum. Set the Amount to 10 pixels (maximum amount) and click OK.

The reason we have to use the Maximum filter is because the Unsharp Mask filter has added pixels to the size of our shape. It's done this because of the blurring we applied. 8 pixels of blur equals around 10 pixels added to the shape's size; 2 pixels more than the blur amount. The Maximum filter removes these extra pixels and returns our shape to its proper size, while further cleaning and smoothing the shape a bit also. It seems like a backward way of getting this effect, but actually, it opens up new options for creating alternate sizes of our shape, should we have a need for that. The Maximum filter works very well with all of these methods for scaling our shape down proportionately. To increase your shape's size, use the Minimum filter. These two filters are extremely useful for instance if we wanted to embed or incase a smaller version of our shape into a larger version. Try it!

In Closing...
One method I've intentionally left out here is using the 'Smooth' command from the Selection menu. This method usually produces nice sharp edges, but grossly jagged corners. Mainly because the program has a problem with creating smoothly curved selections, such as a nice clean-edged circle selection. Although the 'Smooth' command has its own purpose, I would not recommend this as one of them. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

Create a square selection, use a 'Smooth' setting of 10 (Selection / Modify / Smooth), and fill the shape with black, then Deselect.

Well there they are folks. Three (four?) different ways of converting square corners to rounded ones. Try them all and decide for yourself which you prefer the most. Everybody moves at their own pace, so it's nice to have options, right?

Take care, and have fun!

Copyright © Mark Anthony Larmand
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