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Refining selections

From: Up and Running with Photoshop CS6

Video: Refining selections

Photoshop has some great section tools, the Marquee tools, the Lassos, the Quick Selection tool. But all of these tools are completely powerless against fine details such as little strands of hair, blades of grass, cloud edges, that type of thing. So, what Photoshop has done is create a great tool for refining selection edges and it's absolutely amazing. So, that's what we're going to look at in this video. And I have the Quick Selection tool selected. We're going to select her hair and we're going to look at a before and after using this edge refinement technique. So, let's go ahead and Click and Drag on her hair to select her hair and you will inadvertently select other things that are not the hair. So, we'll fix that up in just a second here.

Refining selections

Photoshop has some great section tools, the Marquee tools, the Lassos, the Quick Selection tool. But all of these tools are completely powerless against fine details such as little strands of hair, blades of grass, cloud edges, that type of thing. So, what Photoshop has done is create a great tool for refining selection edges and it's absolutely amazing. So, that's what we're going to look at in this video. And I have the Quick Selection tool selected. We're going to select her hair and we're going to look at a before and after using this edge refinement technique. So, let's go ahead and Click and Drag on her hair to select her hair and you will inadvertently select other things that are not the hair. So, we'll fix that up in just a second here.

And this will probably happen to you, just like it's happened to me every time I've tried this, where some of her face and the background and the flower get selected, it's unavoidable. So just hold the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC, you Click and Drag away to deselect these edges, and her face, and the flower, all that stuff. So, it's not really as quick of a Selection tool as the name might imply, but it's the relative term. So, we're just going to finish this up though because it's imperative for our example.

And it is, again, totally common with this tool to keep going back and forth back and forth to keep adding and subtracting and adding and subtracting to kind of teach Photoshop what you want. But it looks pretty good for right now. So, let's go ahead and add a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer. Let's say we're going to change hair color to something crazy like blue or something. So, I'm going to go to create a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer at the bottom of the Layers panel. And we can adjust the Hue, make this more blueish, increase the saturation, take down the lightness.

And as we do, move this panel out of the way, we could see that the selection edges are just terrible. They're really round, they look digital, they're choppy over here, they're not smooth at all. And none of these little soft edges or these little stray hairs are selected at all, they're still completely blond, just doesn't look professional anyway. So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to hit Cmd + Z to undo that, and then Cmd + Option + Z, and that would be Ctrl + Z on the PC or Ctrl + Alt + Z, to keep stepping back. And now, I keep stepping back in time until I have my selection area selected again, and then I'm going to choose Refine Edge. Now, Refine Edge is only going to be an option if you have two requirements met. Number one, you need an active selection, and number two, you need one of the Selection tools currently selected.

So Marquees, Lasso, Quick Selection, Magic wand, whatever you need, one of these selected, add an active selection in order for this button to be there. You could see if I choose the Move tool, for example, there is no Refine Edge button up there, so be aware of that. And you could also Choose Refine Edge from the Select menu right there, Select > Refine Edge. So, Refine Edge already as you could see, is giving us a better view of what our selection really looks like. So, the Quick Selection tool, for example, seems like this miracle worker when you first play with it. And you click it, and just gets this automatic selection, it's amazing.

When you actually see what it does, it's completely imperfect, and Refine Edge, one of the benefits of it is that it does show you where the imperfection in your selections really are. What I'm going to do is I'm going to start with this little tool here, the Refine Radius tool. I'll show you the miracle of what this tool can do. What I'm going to do is I'm going to click to paint. What's going on here is that I'm telling Photoshop that you are allowed to look beyond these selection edges for other things that might want to be selected as well.

In other words, I have given it a base coat of what the selection area is, this hair. And now, I'm giving it permission, to partially select some little edges within the area in which I am now painting. So, once I have an area like that selected, and I let go, and look at that, it's amazing. So, Photoshop looked in that area that I painted in for other details, that it's going to guess that should be in my selection as well. And that's how we get this little fine details inside of our selections.

And we could try doing that on this side as well. It's painting around, I should have moved that dialog box before I did this. I move that and look how fine these details are, it's absolutely amazing. and so, I want to be careful with this around the ears, and hairline, and stuff. I don't want a lot of that selected, but I can still kind of just see what Photoshop is going to do there. That looks pretty good. let me go over here and explain a few other of these options for you in Refine Edge dialog box. Smooth is a good one, it basically takes these edges and smoothes them out. In some this cases, this can be good.

But most cases, this makes things actually look far more digital and less organic. So, I like to be very cautious with these settings, actually all of these settings. It's good to just be kind of mild and tame with using them. Same thing with feather. It basically blurs the edges and, a lot of that tends to make things look artificial, but a couple pixels can usually be good. Contrast makes a harder edge. And Shift Edge will contract the selection, or expand the selection. So, again, just like with all of them, it comes in handy but it's good to be temperate with all these controls. I should also point out here that none of these are mutually exclusive. In other words, you can open up Refine Edge just to smooth it. You don't have to use this border or whatever.

You could just feather the edge or just increase the contrast of the edge or whatever you want to do. You don't have to use all of them. And I actually see that there's some background here in my hair, and I'm going to check Decontaminate Colors. Let's see if I can't get rid of a little bit of that background in my selection area and as I increase that, it's not really doing too much to the edges. It's doing stuff to the inside of my selection area so it's not really helping too much in this case. We're going to go ahead and click OK and that creates a New Layer with what's called a Layer Mask. And this mask, basically is saying, that we're seeing this layer, but only this much of it.

The mask is masking out this part of the layer. And now, we can add a Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer just to the hair. So, I'm going to click down here at the bottom of the Layers panel, choose Hue Saturation. And now, we can go to Hue and go crazy with our blue. Maybe saturate this, change the lightness, we darken it so it looks a little bit more believable, maybe not that much. And play with it until you get it where you like it. And I'm going to now close this. And you'll see, we actually have another problem.

If I turn on the visibility of the bottom image, you see that, uh-oh, everything is colored, which completely defeats the purpose of us making a separate layer for the hair anyways. And actually, I'm going to rename this layer, Hair, just so I'm aware of what's going on here. So, what we need to do is change the way this Adjustment Layer behaves. By default, Adjustment Layers adjust everything beneath them. So, all of these Layers are getting effected by this Adjustment Layer. So, I'm going to double-click this icon here, and I'm going to click this button, which changes the default behavior of the Adjustment Layer from affecting everything beneath it to affecting on the layer immediately beneath it.

So now, we have affected just the layer beneath it. You could see that there are still some flaws in my selection. I wasn't that careful with this part of her hair, but these other fine details came across remarkably well. And to see a better version of this, even though it's not as believable, we can go back to our Hue Saturation Adjustment Layer, click Colorize, and then we can adjust the colors here. So, everything is getting colorized. Take down the Saturation, even the Lightness so we could see this color a little bit better.

And as you could see here, again we have problems down here and that sticks out like a sore thumb. But even these little strands have that blue tint to them and it's just a much more believable and realistic final product because of Refined Edge.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Up and Running with Photoshop CS6
Up and Running with Photoshop CS6

43 video lessons · 11269 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 59s
  2. 3m 7s
    1. Overview
      3m 7s
  3. 19m 26s
    1. Importing images from a camera
      4m 3s
    2. Using Adobe Bridge
      7m 10s
    3. Using Camera Raw
      5m 57s
    4. Opening images in Photoshop
      2m 16s
  4. 45m 18s
    1. Creating new documents
      3m 43s
    2. Interface overview
      5m 43s
    3. Navigating documents
      4m 58s
    4. Working with layers
      9m 33s
    5. Straightening images
      3m 15s
    6. Cropping images
      3m 54s
    7. Performing basic transformations
      5m 45s
    8. Moving and aligning objects
      8m 27s
  5. 8m 36s
    1. Understanding pixels
      2m 19s
    2. Understanding resolution
      4m 32s
    3. Saving your work
      1m 45s
  6. 23m 33s
    1. Understanding color modes
      3m 55s
    2. Using adjustment layers
      3m 35s
    3. Fixing problems automatically
      2m 36s
    4. Reading a histogram
      3m 40s
    5. Adjusting exposure (brightness)
      4m 27s
    6. Adjusting colors selectively
      5m 20s
  7. 31m 4s
    1. Intro to selecting
      4m 47s
    2. Making quick selections
      6m 45s
    3. Refining selections
      8m 26s
    4. Making a collage
      11m 6s
  8. 11m 46s
    1. Removing small problems
      2m 4s
    2. Fixing bigger problems
      6m 39s
    3. Intelligently scaling an object
      3m 3s
  9. 12m 33s
    1. Creating Smart Objects
      5m 13s
    2. Applying effects
      5m 1s
    3. Adjusting applied effects
      2m 19s
  10. 26m 30s
    1. Creating text
      5m 47s
    2. Editing text
      8m 30s
    3. Using layer styles
      5m 54s
    4. Creating graphic design elements
      6m 19s
  11. 31m 14s
    1. Painting
      9m 54s
    2. Customizing brushes
      9m 44s
    3. Creating vector shapes
      11m 36s
  12. 14m 51s
    1. Understanding file formats
      3m 46s
    2. Saving for the web
      7m 6s
    3. Printing from Photoshop
      3m 59s

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