Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Selecting hair, pt. 2, part of Photoshop CS5: Selections in Depth.
This movie is a continuation of the technique that I started to demonstrate in the last movie for selecting hair and other soft, detailed edges. If you haven't listened to the preceding movie, I suggest you go back and do that now and then continue on to this movie. In the preceding movie, I made an initial rough selection like this around my hair, and then I went into the Refine Edge dialog box and showed you how to use the Radius slider and Smart Radius to create a transition edge, like this, in which Photoshop is going to refine the edge of the selection.
Now, I'd like to show you how to fine- tune this transition area, using the two tools found here in the dialog box: the Refine Radius tool and the Erase Refinements tool. I like to think of these as the Add to Transition Area tool and the Subtract from Transition Area tool, because that's what they do. I'll start with the Add to Transition Area tool, the Refine Radius tool. I'm going to uncheck Show Radius, and then I'm going to press the R key on my keyboard to see the image as it would be with no selection for just a minute, because I want to see where the hair actually is.
It comes all the way out here, and I'd like to try to include some of this hair in the selection. I'll press the L key again to go back to the On layers view, and with the Refine Radius tool selected, I'll move into the image, I'll make my brush tip a bit bigger by pressing the right-bracket key on my keyboard, and I'm going to click where I know there is some hair out here to tell Photoshop to please include that hair in the transition area. When I release my mouse, I can see that some of that hair is now in my selection.
I'll do that a little bit more, and I can do that as much as I want. What I'm really doing isn't adding hair to the selection; it's increasing the transition area. I'll uncheck Show Radius again because I see another problem with the image, and that is that up here a little bit of the blue sky is breaking through my hair. That's because I have this part of the hair included in the transition area. I'd like to exclude this part of the hair from the transition area. So I'll use the other tool, the Erase Refinements tool.
I don't have to go back and select that in the Refine Edge dialog box; I can just press the Option key on my keyboard, and that switches tools. Now, I'll click and drag over this area, and that makes that part of my hair a little more solid by removing it from the transition. So far, everything I've done in the Refine Edge dialog box has been affecting the extent of the transition area where Photoshop is refining the selection edge. There are some other controls in the Refine Edge dialog box here in the Adjust Edge area, that actually make a change to the selection edge.
These controls are similar to controls found in the Select > Modify menu in Photoshop. But I prefer to use them here rather than in the Select > Modify menu, because here, I can preview what the controls are doing. When I'm making a selection of detailed edge like hair, I don't really want to smooth it, or feather it, or increase its contrast, but sometimes shifting the edge will get me a better selection. If I move the Shift Edge slider to the right, I'm expanding my selection edge. If I move it to the left, I'm contracting my selection edge.
In this case, I would like to contract the selection edge, but not this much; maybe somewhere around -16. Now, let's say that I'm satisfied with the refinements that I've made to the selection edge, and I'm ready to output it. I have choices of how I can output, which I can access here in the Output To menu. Some of these choices, like Selection or New Document, will permanently delete the non-selected areas. Wouldn't it be better if I could just hide the non-selected areas rather than delete them? That would give me more options to change my mind about the selection later.
In fact, all of these choices that have layer mask in their titles would give me that option. I'm going to choose the Layer Mask Output option, which is going to add a layer mask to the hair layer in the document. I am also going to make sure that Remember Settings is checked, so I can come back into this dialog box, and I'll click OK. That gives me this layer mask on the hair layer, which is hiding parts of the hair layer so that we can see down through to the sky below. You can see that I have pretty good detail in the edge of my hair, but I can fine-tune this layer mask even more from right here in the document.
First, let's take a look at the layer mask. I'll hold the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC and click on this layer mask thumbnail. The white parts of the mask represent fully selected pixels, the black parts of the mask fully non-selected pixels, and these gray areas in between are partially selected pixels. I'd like to paint over some of the gray pixels here with white to make them more fully selected. I'm going to go out of the layer mask by holding the Option key on the Mac, or the Alt key on the PC, and clicking on the layer mask thumbnail.
But I'm going to leave the layer mask thumbnail selected, and that's really important. I don't want to have this thumbnail, the layer thumbnail selected, instead. Then I'm going to get the Brush tool in the toolbox, I'll make sure my foreground color is set to white, and I'll move into the image, and I'm just going to paint over some of the hairs to make them more solidly selected. That's making those really light hairs a little more visible. So those are some techniques that you can use the next time you're trying to select fine, soft detail, like hair, or animal fur, or foliage.
There's one more important control that can often make a selection like this look better, and that is the Decontaminate Colors controls in the Refine Edge dialog box, or if you happen to be working directly on the mask in the Refine Mask dialog box. I'll show you how to use the Color Decontamination controls to minimize color fringe at the edge of a selection like this in the very next movie.
- Understanding the when and why of making selections
- Combining and transforming selections
- Selecting fine detail with Refine Edge
- Capturing soft and hard edges in one selection
- Understanding the relationship of selections to masks
- Removing color fringe around selections
- Using the Marquee and Lasso tools
- Working with the Color Range command
- Selecting with the Pen tool and paths
- Making easy selections with the Quick Selection tool
- Working with Refine Mask
- Sharing selections between images