Selecting Subjects and Masking
With select and mask, you have a couple of different options here. You can use a brush to select more or less of the area that's in there. What we want to do with this select and mask is essentially refine the edge of what it is that we're doing. This used to be called refine edge, they turned that off, it's not refine edge anymore, it's called select and mask. If we look at edge detection here, there's something called the radius slider. This alone can be good enough sometimes to make the exact selection that we need. If I move this radius up, you can see how it's pretty smart, it's starting to feather in the sides of the selection there. See that, it's actually, if we zoom in here with that radius moved way up, it's starting to actually select some of the hair. If we pull this up a little bit more, look at how that radius changes. It's pulling it some more, and that's a really good selection for the hair right there. Let's go ahead and zoom out here and see what it's doing to the res...
t of the image. Sometimes what it's doing is it's altering, essentially, the contrast of the mask that we've selected, right? It's allowing that mask, as we talked about before, there's black and there's white but there's also any transition in between. If you see any gray areas around my ear and around the top of my shoulder there, any of those gray areas will be a translucent mask, so if I have the solid color blue behind it, you might see a little bit of blue appearing in my ear, which isn't exactly what we want. We can refine that a little bit more. We can come in here, we can smooth out the edges there, see if that helps. That doesn't necessarily help. Or, we can even use our brush here. If I use my brush and I click on here, right around this area, small brush, this is essentially gonna get me back to what we would refer to as something like the quick selection tool. It's making a quick selection and it's allowing me to modify this mask. I don't want to use a big brush, if I use a big brush it's gonna start selecting a lot of the stuff on the outside but if I use a small brush, notice how it's adaptively doing that, that when I click it, I can see it spinning and thinking. What it's doing is it's making the selection for those areas but it's also calculating the radius at the exact same time. It's a very smart way to make a mask. I'll zoom out here or make a selection, rather I should say. Let's go ahead and put this on, let's look at my ear there, I'm not quite sure what's going on with my ear there. I'll change this too, overlay, that actually looks pretty darn good. It's gonna cut off a little bit of my ear here so I might have to brush in some of this area up here to get some of my ear back, brush in around here to get my ear back. This tool is kind of tricky to use, the select and mask tool. Sometimes you'll be clicking around here and if you click a little bit outside of the area, like the area of that ear, it's gonna start selecting some of the area that's on the outside of that. That's okay, if you do that, just press Command or Control + Z. Command or Control + Z, no matter where you are in Photoshop is going to let you go back one step. If you want to go back two steps, you have to press Control + Alt + Z and that will continue going back in history, two steps, three steps, four steps, five steps. The more you press Control + Alt and then Z, Z, Z, Z, Z, it'll keep going back up in your history palette. If you just press Control + Z and keep pressing Control + Z, it's going to flip back and forth between the two things you just did. Control + Alt + Z will continue going back in history, even if you're right here in something like this. We can zoom out at this point. We had a pretty good selection for this area. If I wanted to select more area though, so say like this area back here. If I press alt or option and I click there, it's gonna make the minus sign. I can start removing other areas within the image that I don't want to be there. I definitely don't want that blue area back there, and if I press OK at this point because I'm really satisfied with that selection, I now have a selection specifically just for me right there. If we want to talk about non-destructive editing, I like to make selections from there and tell it to output a selection for me rather than output that selection as a mask because I want to keep this background layer just in case. If I press Command or Control + J and duplicate that, I now have this area without a mask, okay? If I were to go ahead and go back a little bit here and I were to duplicate this layer, let's go ahead and try to think about how I want to do this so I don't end up destroying anything and still maintaining a mask. What I can do is I can make a mask on this area, which is going to ensure that I have the mask for the selection that I just made and I'm not destroying anything. Non-destructively, I still have my background if I want to paint anything in there ever again. Because I have the background already pulled, I have that selection now, what I can do is I can add a new layer here, drop this down, maybe Shift + F5, fill that with a color. Maybe I want that color to be the blue of Kansas City, rocking my Kansas City pride. It doesn't look that great at this point. I would have to do a little bit more work but that's basically allowing me to separate one element from the background using a selection, using select and mask and also using the focus area. Look at the edge of this mask here. One of the things that I want to talk about is looking at the edge, the edge of this mask doesn't look that great. We have a very fuzzy edge. What we could do with this is I'm gonna go ahead and duplicate this by pressing Command or Control + J, again because I want non-destructive editing. If I right click on this mask, I can say apply layer mask and when I apply that layer mask, what that's allowing me to do is it's allowing me to have the image that I have of myself selected and apply that mask to it so everything else around it becomes transparent instead of being a mask. Why that's important is because we have this thing up here that's hidden in Photoshop that's an absolute gem when you're doing composite work. We go to layer and we come down here to something called matting and go to defringe. That's a little fringe area. I can select this to something like two pixels and press OK and you'll notice it starts to taper in that edge just a little bit, just a very little bit to pull it in. If I need to do it again, I can just go up to layer, go to matting, maybe do another two pixels. It blends it in just a little bit better, a little bit more to get rid of some of that fringe. Because this is still a layer, I still have the capability of going into a mask and brushing away some of those areas, so the areas around the ear that got selected there, I could brush those areas away by coming in with this mask, zooming in here, and just using my brush, very light brush, to brush those areas away.