How To Make DIFFICULT Selections EASY in Photoshop CC (Tutorial)

How To Make DIFFICULT Selections EASY in Photoshop CC (Tutorial)

October 11, 2019 42 By Peter Engel


(magical jingle) Hey everybody, welcome into this Adobe Photoshop tutorial, brought to you, as always, by tutvid.com. We’re going to take a look at some of my favorite tips and tricks for cutting out people. In fact, cutting out any object; making complex selections, you name it, here in Photoshop with select and mask among the other selection tools that we have available to us. You’re going to love it. You’re going to learn so much. I think you’re really going to enjoy it; and if you do enjoy the video, make sure you subscribe to this channel, so you never miss any future tutorials. I would really love it if you’d sign up and subscribe. Hit the little bell icon to turn on notifications, because subscriptions don’t mean much these days in YouTube, and the bell notification will ensure that you do, in fact, get the video. So, without further adieu, let’s jump into Photoshop and check this thing out, right now. Okay, here we are in Photoshop and the goal would be to select one of these women off of this backdrop. I’m going to take the woman here on the left. What I would do, is create a basic selection around her. My typical tool of choice would be the quick selection brush. So, with this I would go in and quickly paint a selection over her. Add and subtract all of the bits that I do or don’t want, and then we’ll move on to the next step. There we go, just like that. We have this nice selection around her. Well, it’s okay, it’s not super duper nice. It’s just okay. And at this point, what I’m looking at is the different types of edges that I have here in the object I’m cutting out. Down here where I’m looking at her clothing, and her skin, and her shoes, these are all very straight, somewhat clean, contrast-y edges. Whereas, up here with her hair, well, that’s another ball of wax, right? That’s got the messy, frizzy, frilly edges that are all over the place. So, we’re going to divide up our selection making process into several passes. And we’re going to double pass with select and mask to get a really great selection. So, I want to focus here on her head, and the hair, first. So, with this selection I’m going to go Select>Select and Mask. Now here in select and mask, I’m going to ignore the body. I don’t even care what’s going on down there. This is my focus up here. Now, I’m going to work with the refine edge brush tool, right here, this guy. And I’m going to make sure the brush is relatively large. Alright, and you can up and downsize your brush by using the square bracket keys. I’m going to go with something that is about right about that big. That feels right for this image. And once I have that, I’m going to begin painting over her hair, and trying to knock out as much of the purple-y stuff as possible. There we go. You can see we’ve done a lot there. I’ll probably make my brush a little bit smaller here as I come across the very top part of her hair right up there. Great. Make the brush a little bit larger as I come around the back side, and tuck in by her neck. There we go. We have cleaned up and selected the bits of hair that we want. Now, we may have over-selected a little bit. But I’m not going to be too terribly concerned with that right now. We’re going to come back in in a little bit and retouch-up the edges. What I want do, and the important thing here is, that I want to output this to a new layer with layer mask, from my little output to drop down menu. New layer with layer mask, and hit OK. And you can see, we have a second layer here. I’m going to double click on the layer name, and I’m going to name this hair, just so I know, look, your complex hair selection it’s tucked away up there on that layer. Now, what I want to do, is come back to my other layer, and let’s make this selection for the clothing. You can use the little re-select option – note the hotkey CMD+SHIFT+D, that would be CTRL+SHIFT+D on the PC – if you hit that button, it’s going to re-select our selection before we jump into select and mask; and what this is doing for us, is giving the same exact base starting point at which we entered select and mask before. But mainly, it’s just saving us the time of all the re-selection. So, with this selection, once more, we’ll go Select>Select and Mask; and note, by the way, I’m back on the original layer. So, we’ll go Select>Select and Mask, and now here, I’m going to ignore the hair. I don’t care about the hair, we have that selection, right? What I will do, is go around the edges. You can see, there’s a little bit of pink remaining from the background there. We can get rid of that stuff using the brush tool. So, you can use the brush tool, and I’m going to set it to minus; and I’m going to make my brush really, really small, and I’m going to go in and clear stuff like that out. So, I’m going to move around my image really quickly and clear some of that junk out, and make sure all the little, itty bitty areas of my selection are just perfect, just what I want, before we move onto the next part of this process. And I think that’s looking good. By the way, you can go in and use the quick selection tool in here. I find the quick selection tool in regular Photoshop, outside of select and mask, works better than the quick selection in here. So, that’s what I usually roll with. Now, the issue is, any time you’re working with large, straight-edged objects like this, unless you have a really amazing base selection, which, we have a really good selection here, so we’ve got really clean edges – but most of the time, you’re not going to have really clean edges, because you’re going to begin with a relatively rough selection, and for straight edged objects, select and mask usually does a really bad job. Well, the way around that is, I like to dump a little bit of smoothing into it. These are all global refinements. They happen to every bit of your selection. So, I’ll go smooth ten, and then I would feather the edge quite a bit. You can see, it really looks bad, right? But then you’re going to pump the contrast up, which helps restore that edge and build out a much more natural looking edge; and again, this is a technique I use for strong, straight, high contrast edges. Stuff that is not like hair. You can see what it’s doing to the hair up here. It’s still super unnatural looking selection, but I don’t care about that. We have that selection already. What we’re doing is cleaning up all the straight line edges everywhere else here. But once we have everything laid out as we wish, we would go ahead and output this, as well, New Layer>Layer Mask and hit OK. And now, we have our two masks that we’ve created, on two versions of this. This one we’ll call body. We really call clothing and body, same difference here. We’ve got the body selection and the hair selection. So, with these two layers, what I’ll do, is I’m going to select them both, and I’m going to drag them over to a new image just so we can see them over a background that’s not that original purple background. This obviously doesn’t work because of context and perspective – and she’s floating in midair, for starters. But all that stuff, none of that matters though. We’re just worried about how does this look over a new background? And we can see, the clothing looks pretty good. In fact, it would look better if we just shut the hair off altogether and just had one copy of the image. But the hair up here is looking really, really bad. But that’s fine, because, of course, this is the mask for the body layer. Let’s shut the body off and look at the hair layer. The hair layer actually looks pretty good. There’s some haloing going on. There’s some bits of her hair that look like they’re missing. So, here’s what you want to do for really difficult selections like this. And this, again, is why it’s so valuable to have this up on its own layer. Select the mask for the hair layer, right? This is great to do once you have your model or your object in place, because you look at it, you see it in context with the colors that are behind everything like that. What I want to do, is I want to grab my brush tool and I’m going to set the brush tool blend mode to soft light, and I’m going to reduce the opacity down around 50% or so, and I can paint with either black as my foreground color, black is going to make some of this fringing go away a little bit; and using my brush set to soft light does a beautiful job of preserving all the other details. Or I can paint with white, which is going to help thicken up some of the hair that’s looking a little thin. But you can see, as I come close to the edges, I bring back a lot of that white, very light pinkish, purplish background color. So, maybe I’ll go back to black here, and I’ll say you know what? I want to darken and move some of that away. The point is, we want to be very subtle here with this step, we just want to do very minor clean up. This still is not the final result. We just want to make it look a little bit better. We want to make sure we select this mask, and then we’re going to open up the properties panel. By the way, you can go Window>Properties, and we can hit the select and mask again, and enter select and mask for this layer mask again. Again, here’s an important tip, I have the other layer shut off. So, we only want to be working on our hair mask. I’m going to go Select and Mask, and here in this, I’m not going to mess with anything other than decontaminate colors. But not only that, I’m going to make sure my view is set to on layers. On layers is showing me exactly what’s happening with the backdrop not being something like solid black, or solid white, or the red/ruby overlay – but, instead, just in the context of the project that we’re looking at, on those layers that are actually there. Let’s tick on decontaminate colors, and you can see, whoa! that did a lot. There’s still some flat, weird-looking stuff. So, let’s try toning decontaminate colors back a little bit. Maybe we’ll push it back to 50. Somewhere around there. And keep pushing it back, until you’re just getting rid of that haloing, but not pumping in all sorts of unnecessary edge, light and color. See, there we’re not quite doing enough to get rid of some of that haloing. So, maybe I’ll push it up around 35-40, and I’m going to output this, again, to a new layer with layer mask. I’m going to hit OK; and this now, I would call something like hair decon, or something like that, for decontaminate; and then we have the hair. And if we zoom out, now you can see all that weird haloing is gone. The problem is, all of the body selection is not as good as it should be. So, what we would do, is we would get rid of all the body stuff. And I’d do this with a simple poly-lasso tool. So, I’ll just make a little lasso cut here across her chest, and loop down around her entire body. Voila! And select the layer mask for the hair decontamination layer, and I’m just going to fill this with black. So, let’s go Edit>Fill>Fill With black, and hit OK, and all of that disappears. Well, that’s great. We’ve got her hair. Now, we need to turn on the body layer. By the way, we can just get rid of this other hair mask layer, unless you want to save it. Nothing wrong with that. And then for the body selection, we obviously want to save the body selection, but not the hair, because the hair looks awful. Well, what we do up here, is make sure we’re working on the mask for the body selection and I like to use the brush tool for this. Let’s set the brush tool back to a normal blend mode. Opacity of 100%. We’re painting with black. And just begin painting away up here around the hair, and because we’re painting with black, if I ALT/OPT click on the mask you can see, we’re just painting away all the area of the mask that’s revealing the bad hair selection up there. ALT/OPT click on the mask to get back to normal view mode, and you can just come through here and clear all that junk out and what you’re left with is the perfect body selection on one layer, and the perfect hair selection on the other. At this point, you really could merge the two layers. I prefer to stay a little non-destructive and not do that. Maybe with both layers selected, a little CMD/CTRL+G to group them up, and we can name this “our model,” or something like that. And there you have it, so the whole key here is being able to use select and mask in multiple passes to get highly refined selections for different applications. In the case of her body, lots of straight, high contrast lines; with the hair, this very frizzy, fringey, much more complex object that needs to be selected and then we can meld them both together non-destructively using the wonderful power of masks right here in Photoshop. And there you have it, that, ladies and gentlemen, is one of the techniques that I love to use. In fact, it’s the primary technique I’ve found myself using for some of the more professional work that I’ve done. For cutting stuff out, doing the double, or triple, or sometimes quadruple pass with select and mask, just isolating the type of edge that I’m extracting, and I’ve been getting really, really good results with it. This is why I wanted to share this technique with you. Hopefully it helps you out in terms of making your own selections and really speeding up your work flow when it comes to making selections. But not only that, making better selections. That’s what I want. That’s what I would love to see. If you enjoyed this video, make sure you subscribe to this channel. Of course, you can follow me over on Instagram as well, @tutvid. And yeah, for learning how to make better selections in Photoshop using select and mask, and the various tools and techniques available to us through select and mask – why am I speaking so fast?! Ladies and gentlemen, that’s it! Get it? Got it? Good! Nathaniel Dodson, tutvid.com, I’ll catch you in the next one!