Selections in Photoshop®

Lesson 3/6 - Refine Edge


Selections in Photoshop®


Lesson Info

Refine Edge

The two that I like to use the most are usually On Black and On White. And I'm gonna turn the Opacity all the way up. And usually what I do is I'll go to the white and then I'll go to the black here. And notice you can also tap the A or the T key, see that, you get the keyboard shortcuts. And all the keyboard shortcuts are up there, so I'm not a genius that I remembered them all, you can see them all here. That's always good, when you do something and you're not sure what it's called and you just wait for the tool tip to pop up. And the Mask Select tool. (laughs) Wow, how does he know that? OK, so you see here when I'm On Black it looks really good, like the selection is awesome. And if I was putting it against a dark background this would blend in really nicely and easily. But then when I go On White it's like whoa, it's a little hairy. So what I normally do is I will look at the one where it looks the worst in here, 'cause I figure if I can get it to look pretty decent in the worst o...

ption then when I apply it to the picture it's gonna look good. So there's a few things we can do in here. Now here's another thing I like to do. I'm gonna click on this Show Edge here for a second, you don't see anything yet and that's OK, but if I pull up the Radius now we start to see the edge. So let me talk about this tool and how it works. How many of you have been using Photoshop for a while? Like before maybe the CS and CC? OK, you remember the old thing that used to be called, was it Refine Edge? You guys remember Refine Edge? So basically how all selections used to work is we would draw this little shape manually around the object. You would just sit there and you would just take some time and then you would grab a little paint bucket tool and that had green on it and you would click on there and then that area would turn green and the outside would turn blue. OK, there's a reason I'm telling you this, it's not nostalgia, it's actually a lesson we're going with this. So that's essentially how it would work. So where the important thing is or where the magic happens is this little line here. This is what we're worried about. 'Cause we know where the inside and the outside, this is the decision zone. So if this line is that thick there then that means that Photoshop has that much space to decide should this be saved or should it be thrown away. Is this an object or is this an area to be cut out? So the thinner the line, the sharper the edge you're gonna have and you're gonna have crisper cutouts. When you have areas of fur and smoke and hair and things like that you wanna have a thicker line. And then that thicker line gives Photoshop more area to think around there. And we'll do another image in a second where we'll work with hair. And when you go around there it gives it more space to work and therefore, it can create that softer selection. So what we'd like to do is go in here and we can adjust that. So if we go into the Radius here and we grab it really thin. Say, OK, that's gonna give us a crisp edge. If I pull it up it gives us a thicker edge. And now you can see, see on that edge there you can see the edge of where our person is and that's gonna create a soft edge. Obviously we don't want that, not that soft. So what we're gonna do is we're gonna pick about here. Now then we turn that off now. So all I do is I turn that on first and it enables me to choose a nice Radius. That one's probably a little thick actually for my liking, we'll go down a little bit. But now see how the image looks better already? Because what we've done is we've thickened up that area for it to make those decisions. So I'm gonna drop it down though, 'cause that's a little thick. We don't need a soft edge, we want a harder, crisper edge on here. See that. Probably there looks nice, around 11. Yeah, see that's looking better. And see how these edges are looking much sharper than they did before. So then what happens is what about areas of hair though? 'Cause if I look at this edge it's looking pretty good here, right? This is looking nice and crisp. But the hair, I'd like the hair to be softer. So I'd love there to be a way to make the line thicker there than everywhere else. Well, that's what this tool does up here. We'll get this Refine Tool. So if I go back out of here and I just go in there, and by the way, to change these brushes the right bracket key and the left bracket key will make it smaller, the right bracket key will make it bigger. So I'm gonna make it about that big and I'm just gonna paint around the edge of the hair. And sometimes this looks good and sometimes it doesn't. In that case it's too much, let's go smaller. So we're gonna go a little bit smaller there. So you wanna go small as you can and have it work. There we go. And so we're going around there. And what it's doing is it's refining the edge around the hair now. And see how we're starting to see some individual hairs come out. Now I'm gonna show you on the edge what happened. See, that's what it did. That's all that brush did is it just enabled us to thicken it around that area there, but it's also using auto detection. If you use this tool here you can force it to add something. See, like if I painted there we could literally force it to add those areas in. Now if we have an area like this were we got in there and we accidentally cut out some of the hair. And if you're not sure, did I get the hair or not? That's when you go to things like Black & White. Yes, I did. Look at that, I went out and I cut out that hair. So then we would grab this tool here, this is the tool that forces it to do it. Make it a little bigger. And if we hold if the Alt or the Option key down notice it does that and then we paint normally it does that. So we can paint or add. I'm gonna grab my Wacom pen right now. I'm trying to do this with my finger pad. And look at this, I'm just going around here and I'm saying, you know what, I wanna keep these edges. I don't want any of that to be transparent there. So see what we're doing is we're able to actually go on here and we're able to paint on our image here. And we can see these little bits that are not looking good. Now obviously when you're doing this on a real image you're gonna, this is all gonna happen much quicker. I'm explaining these tools to you, so you can kind of understand what they do while we're doing this. On a real world, something like this, I probably wouldn't spend more than three or four minutes on this particular image. And so you get a kind of a general idea of what's going there. Some of this needs some cleanup. We could go in and do that. But I'm not gonna do all that right now, because, once again, I don't wanna spend all the whole session on this one image. So let's go back to Onion Skin and we could pull our Transparency all the way up and you can see how this edge is starting to look a lot better. Now for things like the fingers and webbing in the fingers, these areas can be really, really tricky sometimes. And we can use these tools here and we go down there and start trying to get it better in there. So see how it's getting better? As I'm cleaning up these areas what happens is Photoshop actually looks at the rest of the image and recalculates the rest of the image. So the more you work on these edges the better these edges get everywhere. So it's not just that one edge, it's using some pretty cool technology to reanalyze it. And all it's doing is every time you refine it you're saying, no, this is not part of the foreground color I'm trying to keep, and you're isolating more colors. So the more you do it the better it gets. And then there's some other tools we could go in here and work with. Let me just quickly tell you what they do. So sometimes you've just got real super jaggy edges and when you get those super, super jaggy edges the smoothing, just a little bit of smoothing will just kind of smoothen that out, so you don't get the jagginess. And sometimes you gotta add a Feather. Feather softens the edge. Now don't go nuts with the Feather, 'cause you're gonna get that first time Photoshop user look when you've got the big soft, furry edge around everything. It's like oh, I see you just started, that's great. We're supportive and we'll get a focus group and we'll work on that. So if you're an experienced user and you get that you really do need a focus group. Actually just watch this class. And so the Feather's gonna, so you want just a little feather so some of these tools can work. 'Cause these tools will work better when you got a little softer edge to work with. So the smoothing, all it does is get rid of the jaggies. The Feather just kind of makes stuff work, or if you do want a softer edge that'll do it, but be very, very stingy on that one. In fact, most things in Photoshop be stingy. It's better to be stingy than be generous, because you want your photographs not to look retouched, you want it to look natural. If you're going for some like crazy thing then be generous. So let's go down here. Contrast, what does Contrast do? Have you ever seen those edges, let me go back into the Black & White here and I'll show you what that does. It's a super useful tool. You're not gonna use it all the time, but what happens, let me show you here. So say we've got some things here. If I hit the Feather a little bit and I'm just gonna show you. See how I feather that it gets a little softer around the edges? And I don't need smoothing on this, 'cause there's not really any jaggies. But what Contrast does is see the areas of gray here. Sometimes you get areas that are gray or they're softer areas and you can't quite get them away. Like see that little bit there, see that? It's selected there and it's just. So what you wanna do is we can use the Contrast, we'll just kind of choke those. See that, boom. And then that just chokes it and cleans up your mask. It's literally choking the mask right there. So if you use a combination of Feather and Contrast together a lot of the problems you have with the selections can be solved. It takes a lot of practice to get that down, but just play around with these two and you can really do a lot for your edges. It's kind of similar to what we used to do before this. You guys remember when you would make a selection you'd make a mask and your mask didn't look good, so you'd choose on that layer mask you would go in, you would go into the Blur. Remember, you would go into Blur inside of Photoshop. You could create a Gaussian Blur. And people do that a lot for line art to get the line art to look good. You'll blur it and then you'd go into a Levels or Curves. And then you'll crunch it and then that's a way to get those jaggy things nice and smooth and straight. These are exactly the same, that's what these two tools do. This is the blur and that one there is like basically getting Levels and crunching it. So all of these correspond to the other selection tools inside of Photoshop. Katy Rickman wanted to know, can you just tell us the name of the tool that you used to paint the edge? Yeah, I believe it's called the Refine Edge or something. Let's have a look, I'll roll over and do the tool tip. The Refine Edge Brush. Perfect, thank you. You're good to move, that was it. All right, no problem. So tool tips are great, they make us all look intelligent. (laughs) All right, so we're down here, we've talked about, now we're talking about Shift Edge. So what does the Shift Edge do? I think you might have an idea. But have you ever had that when you cut something out, like maybe you're working against a green screen. It happens a lot sometimes. And you get a little too close to the green screen and then you get a contamination of colors, so you get the fringe around it or a colored fringe. Or maybe you're cutting out a cat or a dog or something like that and you've got some color, strong color in the background, it gets around the edges and then you cut out and there's a little fringe around them. Have you seen that? You get that little edge. So what you can do is if you shift the edge it just compresses that, it takes it away. I'll show you. So in this case we can turn that off, go into our regular Onion Skin. Whoop, where is my Onion Skin? Up at the top there. All right, so we're gonna go down here and all the Shift Edge does is if I move it to the left it's gonna compress that edge. Watch, see what it's doing, it's eating into it. It's like a cookie monster, it's like Pac-Man. So what it does, see that? Then if we go the other way, if you wanna expand that edge a little bit and show more of the background. See those little, the edges around that, it's called matting. That's what we've got there, we've got that mat around the edge there. And in fact, here's a crazy thing, if you're gonna be compositing this onto a similar color as what you were cutting it out that's why you might expand that and actually put a little bit of a mat there, 'cause what it's gonna do is it's gonna make that hair and stuff like that just blend right in and it's gonna look beautiful, if you've got the same color. If you've got a different color don't add matting. But matting will make you look like a masking genius. That's a little trick that not many people know. So if we go back the other way we can remove that mat and make sure, say you've got something that was against black and now you're putting it against white, let me give you a tip. If you're in control of the shoot and you're gonna be compositing something against a dark background shoot it against a dark background. If you're gonna be shooting against a light background. A lot of times people don't think about that, but that really can make a difference and you can do that little matting trick. All right, so let me just bring this back to zero, I'm just gonna type in zero there. And obviously we know what Invert is. Invert is gonna select, if we started with a background and we wanted to switch it around and invert our subject we would just hit that. So I'll show you, why don't I show you, even though you know. See, that's what Invert does. Sometimes if you've got a very smooth colored background it's easier to start selection with the background and then invert it, so we're working with the subject. So always select the part that's easiest. And then Clear Selection just means let's start again, we just epically failed. And that's OK, that's OK, we do that a lot. All right, so and then here's another one, Decontaminate Colors. This is a fantastic tool here. Now when you're working with things like green screen and colors, like I said, you get those colored edges. That will just knock them right out. And the other thing it seems to work really well on is hair. So when you're working with, I'm not gonna do it on this image, 'cause it's probably not gonna have any benefit, but if you're working with someone with like curly hair, like yours, and like you've got this edge and it's really hard to get it nice and clean. You've got like sometimes edges. You hit that Decontaminate Colors it can just make those individual hairs just pop. But that's one of the last things you're gonna do before you do that. Remember Settings, if you're gonna redo this and use the same settings over and over again. OK, so Output. So we basically get to output to a Selection, which is just gonna be like what we were working on before, just marching ants. And we've got all these different options here. Now generally speaking the options that I use the most if I'm gonna be painting and I'm gonna keep this on the background and I'm not necessarily gonna move it from the background, I wanna apply a filter or do some dodging and burning or something like that, or for example, I wanna do a depth of field blur, here's one of the things. If I wanted to blur the background and I do this as a layer when I blur the background you're gonna see the edges of the person. In fact, I'm gonna demonstrate that. And I can show you why you would choose these different options. So most of the time I would choose the Selection, which will just give me that selection of marching ants, or I'm gonna do a New Layer for Layer Mask. Now most of the time I'm doing a new layer with a layer mask and we'll do that right now. So we're gonna choose New Layer with Layer Mask and then we just click OK. So the cool thing about working with a layer with a layer mask is, let me go back here, you know, I'm just gonna reset my workspace really quick. There we go. All right, I just wanna make sure that my workspace looks like what you're working with. There we go. And so as you can see here what we've done is we've got our layer there with the layer mask. Now the cool thing about that is if I hit the Shift key I can show and hide the mask, Option key will let me select that mask to view it. So the cool thing about working with the layer with a layer mask is sometimes the best solution is to actually just go in and use a brush. Like I've seen people labor for lifetimes trying to get individual hairs. Why? I'm mean, sometimes I just helmet hair it, and then I grab a fine brush, and then I just paint those individual hairs in and then people are like, oh my gosh, how did you select those hairs? Sometimes it's just easier to just paint it in with a brush. Go the path of least resistance. Electricity is smarter than us sometimes. All right, so the mask enables us to go through here and so it's not perfect, we can go backwards and forwards and we can do all kinds of different things. Now I just wanna show you something here that I did mention. Remember if I said we cut this out and then we wanna do a depth of field blur. I'm gonna do this just really quick. This is what happens. We go here and we're gonna choose our Filter, Blur. This obviously is a little much. Let's go back down to something a little more palatable. OK, so say we're like, I'm gonna just blur the background, I wanna create this awesome background blur, right, yeah. OK, which everybody loves to do. Of course, you gotta have bokeh in it. But look at the problem we've got here, we've got this little, see that little edge around there. Because what's happened is we've also blurred that out. So here's the thing, and I'm just gonna undo all this, so if I was to work with just the selection. By the way to load that selection all I did was Control + click on there, on that mask, even though the mask is hidden, and I get the selection. So now if I inverse this, Command + Shift + I, now we've selected everything but our guy here. And then we choose Filter, Blur. See, now we've got the background nice and blurry, Control + D, no fringing, because we kept that selection around the guy. So that's like one of the ways you could work there. I'm just gonna undo this a couple more. I'm gonna show you a quick tip with this before we move onto the next way of working. So what I'm gonna do here is with this right now I'm gonna get the selection active. So we can also work with other tools here, other selection tools, and say, oh no, we're back here, we got the selection here and I can't, where's my Refine Edge, my Select and Mask? We can get that back. So let me show you how to do that. All you need to do is select any selection tool and then Select and Mask is available. So all you gotta do is in toolbar, it doesn't matter what selection tool you choose, just choose any selection tool and then we can go back into Select and Mask. See that? Now I'm gonna show you a cool trick right now. So sometimes that, remember the old Refine Edge, sometimes some people prefer the Refine Edge. And they're like, no, but it's all Select and Mask now. Select and Mask does just an amazing job on soft edges, like hair and stuff like that, it's incredible. But Refine Edge, sometimes when you're working with hard surfaces and hard objects the old Refine Edge works better. So I'm gonna show you a secret squirrel handshake of how to bring that back. So you can go through all the menus here, you will not find Refine Edge. You're just gonna see Select and Mask. So here it is, if I remember the right key, it's holding down the Shift key and click on Select and Mask and now Refine Edge comes up. Now you can't do it clicking on the button, you have to do it through the Select menu. If you don't go through the Select menu you can't get Refine Edge. But if you hold down the Shift key it's like we've just traveled in time and here's my old familiar tools that I refuse to change from. So if you're a Refine Edge person there they are. 'Cause here's the funny thing, whenever Adobe puts a new feature in, no matter how good it is, there's always people that prefer the old way. So you have the option of working with the new way or the old way. But I will say, I still think on some of the harder edges here sometimes it works better on some of these edges. So if you're not getting the result you want, Select and Mask, pop, Refine Edge, there it is. And it works all the similar settings. And it just gives you that algorithm, the old algorithm. OK, so that's that. One quick thing I'm gonna show you before we move onto the next thing. Selections, remember I told a selection is a mask or a channel. I'm gonna prep the Channels panel. I hate that it rhymes. Do you like that it rhymes? Channel panel, or do you like Channel palette. I grew up with palettes. Did you grow up with palettes, Jim? Palettes. Palettes. I grew up with palettes. Now it's panels, panels, panels sound more modern, panels are much more modern. OK, so now that we're working in here how do we save this selection so we can come back to it later on? If you look under here, under the Select menu, oh, by the way, here's a spoiler alert for you guys, every single tool in here helps you with working in selections. So if I can give you one tip in this class go through here and learn what every single one of these tools does. If you learn what every single one of these do it's gonna save you a lot of time. And they don't have anything to do with stuff that are not selections. So that's your menu. So anyway, we can Modify. See these things when we go under here, Modify, Border, Smooth, Expand, Contract, Feather. Do these not seem familiar? That's because all the Select and Mask is, all those tools I showed you at the end, the ones to get rid of the jaggies and blah, blah, these are these. Back in the old days we had to do this manually, now we can just move sliders. What's wrong with this? Well, you can't see what's gonna happen. We would click on here, add a number, see what it looks like, oh no, not good, undo, make that two pixels bigger, ah, undo, one pixel smaller, ah, there we go. Now we can just do it in Select and Mask moving the sliders. So if you don't understand what Select and Mask is these are the tools here. So anyway. Let's go down here and here's the thing we're doing is we're just saving a selection. So if we click Save Selection here we can name this soccer and then just click OK. Notice what happened. It created a channel down there, an alpha channel. So I hit Control + D. Have you ever done that, you're working and you're like, oh no, I lost my selection. The worst one is when you draw out the selection you just spent 3 1/2 hours and you've got it perfect and it's like, I'm gonna go have a cup of coffee to celebrate. I celebrate everything with a cup of coffee. That's why I'm wired. So anyway. And then the cat comes along and walks on the keyboard and you come back and the selection's gone and it's like, (laughs) what's for dinner tonight? Anyway, moving on. (audience laughing) So now that we've saved this, all of this happens under the hood. I'm just revealing it. By the way, the Channels is when you pop the hood on Photoshop. You wanna see what's happening, that's what the Channel panel does. So anyway, so we've go there and we wanna load the selection we can just simply go under Select here and then we choose Load Selection. And under there, these are the Channels, we've only added one, it's soccer, click OK, and that selection will come back. So the cool thing about that is you can save all kinds of selections. And so when you're compositing or even working on landscape photos one of the first things you might wanna do is go out and create a mask of the mountains, create a mask of the ocean, or the river, or whatever these certain areas are that you wanna isolate when you're working, save those selections out. And now you can just quickly load these selections and you can start editing different parts of your photo or cut them out or whatever you want. And the great thing about it is you can have more than one selection. By saving those selections in here we're not stuck to just one at a time. You know what I mean. We can go and we can change them out. And even if we hit the Shift key when we go we can actually intersect selections and do crazy things, which are beyond the scope of this particular session. Another way to load it by the way is Control, Command and click and that will load the selection too. So if you're not intimidated, go in the Channels, that's actually quicker than Load Selection. Another trick, while I'm at it. So let me load, let's go back here, so we get the selection. So when we choose the Select, Save Selection, that is exactly the same as creating a selection and then just clicking under here and see that Alpha 1? Same thing, just quicker. But I figure if I went in there and showed you how to do that first you might not understand, but now that you see Load Selection, Save Selection, boom, it's that easy.

Class Description

One of the most important tasks you’ll do in Photoshop® is working with selections. Selections are used for a wide variety of purposes, such as isolating an area in a photograph so you can edit it without affecting the rest of the image and cutting out objects to create composites. In this class, Colin Smith will show you all the ways to make selections in Photoshop® using the multitude of amazing tools at your disposal. He’ll do a deep dive into the newest selection tools, including Select Subject and Select and Mask refinements, so you can get nice clean edges when making the most difficult selections.