photoshop creative

How to create perfect selections

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
July 11, 2013

Get to grips with the various selection tools, then tackle intricate extraction tasks with Photoshop’s Refine Edge

Step 1

Go to Select>Color Range and click on the sky. The selection preview will show white in places that are similar in colour to the area clicked on. Max out the Fuzziness slider to increase the selection, then click OK.



Step 2

Use the Quick Selection tool to finish selecting everything outside of the tree as well as any gaps within. Click and drag to add to the selection. The left and right brackets resize the brush. Opt/Alt-click and drag to remove areas.



Step 3

When done selecting everything but the tree, inverse the selection so that the tree itself will be selected. Go to Select>Inverse, or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I.



Step 4

It will be a rough selection at this point. To make it accurate, go to Select>Refine Edge. This dialog box contains lots of useful ways to perfect the selection. Use the Zoom and Hand tools to zoom and pan your image.



Step 5

The View Mode allows us to change the way the selection preview is displayed. You can use Overlay initially, which allows you to view the selection like a Quick Mask.



Step 6

The Refine Radius tool improves selections by adding fine detail that would be incredibly hard to capture manually. Paint around the edges of the tree and in between gaps. Photoshop will think for a second, then magically refine the selection!



Step 7

Change to the View Mode to On Black to check for any bits of sky you may have missed. Keep working with the Refine Radius tool to improve the selection.



Step 8

While zoomed in, increase the Contrast to harden some of the soft-edges in the selection. These can give the final extracted object a glow if not taken care of now.



Step 9

Check the Decontaminate Colors option to remove stubborn colour fringes. These are replaced with the colour of neighbouring pixels. Use the Amount slider to adjust the amount of colour fringe to remove.



Step 10

Choose New Layer with Layer Mask from the Output To drop-down at the bottom. The tree will appear on a new layer complete with a layer mask. You can now place the tree atop a new background.