Softening a selection outline

Gaussian Blur and other Blur filters are equally as useful for editing masks as they are for editing image pixels. As I mentioned earlier, applying Gaussian Blur to a mask has the same effect as applying Select ^ Feather to a selection outline. But Gaussian Blur affords more control. Where the Feather command affects all portions of a selection outline uniformly, you can apply Gaussian Blur selectively to a mask, permitting you to easily mix soft and hard edges within a single selection outline.

Another advantage to blurring a mask is that you can see the results of your adjustments on-screen, instead of relying on the seldom-helpful marching ants. For example, suppose that you want to establish a buffer zone between a foreground image and its background. You've managed to accurately select the foreground image — how do you now feather the selection exclusively outward, so that no portion of the foreground image becomes selected? Although you can pull off this feat using selection commands such as Expand and Feather, it's much easier to apply filters such as Maximum and Gaussian Blur inside a mask. But before I go any farther, I need to back up and explain how Maximum and its pal Minimum work.

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