I do a lot of digital collage work that involves taking several elements from several different images and pasting them into a target image. For example: I might mask out and copy a person from Photo A, a flower from Photo B, and a statue from Photo C and paste all of these into Photo D.
Of course, I want all of these stolen objects to look as realistic as possible in their new home. Generally, that involves feathering — fading out the hard or rough edges of the copied elements so that they look less “pasted in.”
When I worked on the Windows platform, I preferred Corel PhotoPaint over Photoshop for this kind of work for one big reason: in Corel PhotoPaint, I could interactively apply feathering to an object after pasting it into the target image. In other words, after pasting in the sharp-edged version of the object, I could then use a slider control to adjust feathering until the object looked completely natural.
PhotoShop supports feathering … but you have to set the amount of feathering at the mask level — before you copy the element you plan to paste into the target document. That’s a pain, because:
a) while I can type in a number to change the number of pixels’ worth of feathering that will be applied around the mask, I can’t see the impact of that number on the screen
b) I can’t tell whether I have the right amount of feathering until I paste the object into the target image.
As a result, I’m constantly masking, copying, switching to the target image, pasting, hating it, returning to the original document, adjusting the feathering amount, copying, switching to the target image, pasting, hating it, returning to the original document … you get the drill.
I’m looking for a Mac-based photo editor that allows interactive adjustment of feathering after I’ve pasted an object (or “layer,” if you want to be all PhotoShoppy) into the target image. Can anyone out there help?