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Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

How to make selections in Photoshop based on the focus area

Daniel Walter Scott

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In this video I'm going to show you how to click two buttons, Select and Focus Area It's great for selections because it's a blurry background, sharp object. It does a pretty amazing job of just grabbing it. There's a little bit of work to do, and I'll show you how to do that in this video. I'll also show you how to take that same selection, to kind of use something in focus, and turn it into an Adjustment Layer. You can see the hydrant there, just kind of, instead of masking it we're using it for Adjustment Layers. I'll also show you some harder things, where it's in focus and out of focus, but the hand's not, but I'll show you still how to get a good selection. I'll show you when it goes absolutely horribly wrong, and you end up with stuff like this. And how to get around it. Then at the end we'll do a little project where we cut this out, and we stick it on to this background. See me, believably. Look at that, they're shadows and all. You and me, my friend, are going to continue on the Selection Path, and learn how to use Focus Area together. Let's jump in. 

To get started let's open up the files we're going to use. It's in ‘02 Selections’, and go to ‘Focus Area 1’ to ‘6’. Open up them all. So we're going to start with 6, I want you to be prepared for amazingness. The reason this works is because there is a really shallow Depth of Field; background's blurry, but the subject, in this case a flower, is in focus, so works perfect. What we'll do is work our way through. I've got some ones that are really easy, through to the ones that are quite hard. Now also note that this technique is just the starting. Like remember, Subject was great, but then we went to Select & Mask to fix it up. It's the same for this technique, it does a lot of that heavy lifting. 80% there, and then we use Select & Mask to tidy it up. So kick back, relax, and be amazed. 

Now you can see the edges are a bit off, we can fix that up with Select & Mask. You can jump straight to that from here, which is cool. You might have to adjust the Focal Range. So lower is a bit more exact, so it's looking for sharper parts of the image. If you raise it higher, it's a bit more forgiving, and goes, "Do you mean this, this, and this?" This one's pretty easy because it's very clear. Background's very blurry, foreground is very sharp in comparison. Things you will have to do is, you can see here, it doesn't really know what to do with this thing in the middle. So you've got these two options, you can add to the selection or remove. So basically think of this as the Quick Selection Tool, we looked at it earlier over here. 

So same technique, you don't have to like paint it all the way in, just kind of click a little bit, and it goes off and tries to race around and find what you mean. That's pretty much all for this particular one. Let's click 'Select & Mask'. So now we're back into that window that we've used quite a few times. It's over here, remember, our global changes. We can use our Fine Brush, so whatever you want to use now. In this case, Radius around the edges, it's doing a pretty nice job. I'm viewing mine against, what is it? Is against white, is it against black? Not on black. Sorry, 'On Black'. Looks nice, On White, looks good. Awesome. And what am I going to do with it when it's finished? I'm going to output to a Selection, no, I'm going to output to a Layer Mask, and then click 'OK'. 

Let's look at some harder ones, let's jump to ‘Focus Area 2’. Now you don't always want to make a complete mask like we did in this one here. Sometimes we just want to grab an area, to play around with things like the levels, or change the colors, so let's do the same technique, but let's look at using an Adjustment Layer instead. It's the same technique, 'Select', 'Focus Area'. Kick back, relax. You can do the adjustments here. It's pretty good, I'm going to add that bit, and use minus '-' to minus in there. Think of it, remember, like the Quick Selection Tool. A little bit down here to add. It's couple of bits down here. If you find it hard to, like check what's missing, what's not, play around with these different ones, so On Black, Overlay. Just try these different ones so you can see clearly what's maybe missing. And say White On, Black on White, it's pretty good here, so I'm going to add that, I'm going to add that. And we've got a good start. 

You can play around with Soften Edge, and it does, but it's just kind of like, it's just a one tick, where you can go in to Select & Mask, and because we are super advanced awesome people, we get to use all of these features to make it quite sweet. So which one am I going to use? On Black looks pretty clear, and Radius, yes, it's working nice. Maybe just smooth it out a little bit. You don't see me using Feather or Contrast much, it's just preference, have a play around with them, it does, and going a bit high, but it kind of feathers the edge, that might be exactly what you need. There's no right or wrong really in here. 

The cool thing about it is there's only about 6-7 options to play around with. So experiment on your own. When it's finished, instead of going to a Layer Mask, what I'm going to do is, I'm going to say, stay as a Selection, because-- let's click 'OK'. Now it's just a lovely selection, Now if I go to my Adjustments Panel and say, do levels or curves, if I do levels, you can see it turns my Selection into a Mask, on my Adjustment Layer, which is levels, hasn't touch the background now. So now with the levels here I can go through, and it's going to kind of balance it out a bit. I want to be really subtle in these tutorials, but it's hard when you're being subtle, because you can't see what I'm doing on the video often. You can see what I've done there, I've just darkened it up a little bit. I just wanted to show you an extra way of using Focus Area. Grab the stuff that's really close and really work on it. Maybe the same thing with vibrance, instead of levels, or a bit of both. 

Now let's look at some problematic abuses and how to get around them. I find this is the most valuable stuff, because not always you're going to get a perfect kind of flower on its own. So Focus Area 3, this image has-- probably the biggest problem is, that it's got a really high ISO or grain, that is kind of in the image. So it's kind of all over it, so it does find it hard, to break away from what is sharp and what is blurry, because of that grain. So I'll show you a couple of ways of getting around it. Let's go to 'Select', let's go to 'Focus Area'. If you can hear 90s dance music in the background, the construction workers that have left from yesterday have now been replaced with shop fitters, who love the 90s dance anthems, which is cool. Not so good for you and me, recording, so enjoy the backing music. You probably can't hear it, it's probably just me. 

You can see here, under, against white or on white, it's just kind of grabbed this. This is the only bit I could really find that's really sharp. You might find, with a really grainy image, that this image noise level, kind of up and down will help. Drag it up, drag it down, see if that fixes it for you. I'm yet to find it useful for me too much, but I should show you because I haven't used it enough to say it's like good or really bad. Given adjustments and easy slider, so what we're going to have to do is, there's just a big chunk of hand missing, and the options up here are, On Black, Black and White. So it's not very handy to know what else I need to select. The only one that really works is Overlay. 

Overlay allows us to see kind of a ghost of the background. There's no kind of opacity slider like we have in Select & Mask. So just pick Overlay. And then let's grab the '+', and I'm just going to kind of click along and let Photoshop do its magic. Oh, Photoshop! You're so good. Look at that. I just do little bits-- freaks out my computer a little bit, but also, squeezing the Quick Selection Tool, I find, doing smaller little chunks is easier. This bit here is a little harder. Minus, '-'. Hold down the 'Option' key on a Mac instead of coming up here to minus, or 'Alt' key on a PC to change it to minus. 

We're not going to spend too much longer in here, but there's two ways of kind of working through it. You can play around with the noise level, but also just add and subtract to the mask, and it's easiest done when you're on Overlay. So I'm going to go to 'Select & Mask'. I always go through Select & Mask to tidy it up, you might go, "No, I'm just going to go straight to being a Layer Mask." Awesome. Job done, and you're happy enough with it. And then later on you might come back and click on the Mask, and then go to Select & Mask to get back to where I kind of go directly. 

I'm going to smooth the edges, maybe Smart Overlay, and in this case I'm probably going to need to use, not this first one, not this one here, I'm probably going to have to use just a plain old Brush Tool, because this bit here, the computer is not going to be able to work out the difference between the background-- let's go back to 'Marching Ants'. Actually, because we're in here we can lower the opacity of that black, on black. Just to make it easier to see what's in the background here. And because we've got this Brush Tool here, I make it bigger, hardness is, I like it between 85 and 95. And hold down the 'Option' key and just kind of paint it out. Maybe the fuzziness needs to be a little bit lower, or hardness needs to be lower. Just to give it that kind of blur with the background. 

There's probably this one down here, actually I'm okay with that. It's pretty amazing. There's a hole in the middle, if you are getting through this course, you're like, "I can't remember, how did you do the red thing, again?" If you're on a Mac, hold down the 'Command' and 'Option' key. Just hold them down, and then click and hold your mouse, drag left and right, up and down. Gives you size and hardness. If you're on a PC, it's a bit weirder. Maybe not weird, it is hold 'Ctrl' key down on your keyboard, and then with your right mouse key, like the other one that you don't use very much, the right click, click and hold that down and go left and right, up and down. 

So I'm in here, I'm going to go-- this one here, so just using the Paintbrush, I'm going to use the Quick Selection Tool, because instead of trying to paint it out, because it is very clearly different from the rest of it, I can just kind of click once in there. Nice. Let's click 'OK', and a pretty sweet mask. Let's get into ‘Focus Area 4’, where it really doesn't work. So we're going to go to 'Select', we're going to go to 'Focus Area'. We kind of see that it is, but it's got that grain problem again, where a huge amount of grain in here, but it's making the background and foreground quite consistent, and it just doesn't work, and I'll show you a way around it, kind of. 

Let's go to 'Focus Area', kick back, relax. Let's just go to here, it's okay. You just want to fix it in here, you just need to, because this is a person, or a human, it works better with 'Select', 'Subject'. 'Select', 'Subject', kick back, relax. Come on, Select, Subject. You can see there; magic. So I'd start with this and add my Layer Mask, and with it selected go to 'Select & Mask', and tidy things up. We did that in an earlier tutorial, I guess I wanted to show you just, sometimes Focus Area doesn't work, you might have to look at different ways of doing it. We've looked at a few sections already. Channel Masks and Subject. 

Now the last one we're going to do is, we're going to cut this out and stick it, like a proper project, rather than just looking at it, and here is a mask, we're going to combine stuff and just look at a few. Tie together some stuff we've already learnt, and turned into a little project, so that in the next video I'll set a project of your own. So do this with me, and then in the next video you can do it by yourself. So I want to cut that out, stick it there. So to do that, same thing. It looks like it's clearly going to be good for the technique we're using, which is the 'Select', 'Focus Area'. Now I'm going to switch it to On White. Yes, On White's probably good, or On Black. On White's probably going to, it's a little bit clearer. Now I'm going to have to minus some parts out. Brush Hardness, down a little bit. It doesn't really matter that much when using the Quick Selection Tool. 

I've got the basics in there, and that's pretty cool, right? Focus Area, you rule. Let's go and fix it up a little bit. Let's go to 'Select & Mask'. It's pretty good. Comparing it against white-- I'm going to turn up the Opacity now to 100%. White versus Black. Like a white's probably a better example of how good the selection is especially on the side. First up, I probably-- let's just see how we go with a little bit of Radius and a little bit of Smoothing. I'm okay with this, really fixed up these edges here. Remember, I'm going to zoom in. Hold 'P' key down on your keyboard. That's the original, actually don't hold it down, just tap it. On, off, on, off. Pretty amazing, huh? 

The other thing I want to do is-- those are actually part of the original, right? If I turn those down, they're actually just part of the original image, but I don't want them so I'm going to go to-- these are the tools that are not going to work, right? The Refine Edge Tool, because it's such a solid thing, it's just not going to do what I need it to do. So I'm going to undo a couple of times. I'm just going to use just a plain old paintbrush. I'm going to pick a size and hardness. Something about there, hardness. Trying to match the hardness of the edge here, of what's already there in focus. If you are sick of that shortcut with the red thing, you can just do size and hardness up here, right? But I am now going to hold down my 'Alt' key to turn it to minus, just to kind of tap these things off. Bit of manual labor, can't be avoided sometimes. I'll speed this up because this is painful to watch. 

So that's going to work for me, I really like it. I still want to go and fix a few of these little edges. It's the beads of water that are on the edges, have given me lumpy kind of sides. Photography trick. I don't do the photography much, I do a lot of the retouching, but never keep it in the fridge because it ends up sweating, and leaving big pools of water when you're trying to photograph it. So what tends to happen is-- one of the tricks that we've worked with lots with food photography, is you leave it out, it's pretty much off in rank, but if you cover it in hair spray, it looks wet, moist, and new, and doesn't drip water beads everywhere. Kind of preserves it for a while so hair spray is a good trick. But we've got our mask, we want to output it to a Layer Mask. Click 'OK'. I want to add this to Focus Area 6. 

We're going to use our trick where we go to Move Tool, and just go, 'Command C', 'Command V'. Kind of brings through the Layer Mask. So it's in, it's not super believable, but it's pretty cool though. I'm going to do two things before we go. We'll add a Layer Mask, and one of the obvious problems is this glass. I'll show you a quick little trick for it. Let's do the Drop Shadow first, we learned this in the Essentials course, but we'll just recover it here for the people that didn't do it. It's pretty fancy, well I like it anyway. 

So I've got this layer selected, I'm going to go to 'fx', I'm going to say, I'd like a 'Drop Shadow'. Not worried too much about this Drop Shadow, except I want to see it. Like that's not a realistic Drop Shadow, I know, but it's mainly just so I can see what it looks like, and play around with the opacity, the size, how fuzzy it is. That's going to work for me. Click 'OK'. You're like, "That is terrible." But remember, the people that did it, you know, you can right click the word 'Drop Shadow', and go to this one that says 'Create Layer'. It's cryptically named, basically it means, I'm going to yank the Drop Shadow off as an effect, and look, there's its own shadow on its own layer. I'm just going to move it around. It means that we can go to 'Edit', 'Transform', and go to 'Distort'. 

I'm just going to use the shortcut because we're in the advanced class. So hit 'Command T' on your keyboard, if you're a Mac, 'Ctrl T' on a PC. Then just hold down the 'Command' key on a Mac or 'Ctrl' key on a PC, and instead of it just kind of like doing this, you hold down the 'Command' key or 'Ctrl' key on a PC. It just distorts it without having to go to the official 'Edit', 'Distort', it just kind of does it all for you. So what I'm looking for now is for the shadow on both the Focus Area. Focus Area 5, you can see there's a big shadow cast this way. And in here it's pretty neutral. The photographer has probably composited this background anyway. So, because there's lots of freedom to decide where the shadow's going to go, so I'm going to Transform it, and move it around. I'll try and get the base of it there. 

How realistic this is going to be? Where's the light going to be coming from? I don't know whether it should be kind of coming from this way or this way. Ah, looking awesome. It's okay, I'm going to hit 'Return'. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to do couple of things. One is, on this layer here I'm going to play with a different-- it's defaulted to Multiply. So I'm going to go through and just pick another Blending Mode. Remember, holding 'Shift' on my keyboard, make sure you're on the 'Move Tool'. Then tap the '+' key, and it just cycles through the color modes over here. That at least gets you close to where you want to be. I cut like that, but it's probably not very-- I do like what Linear Burn does to the wood. 

Can I find anything else that I like? No. Maybe a Linear Light, I like, but it needs to be kind of reduced, especially out here where it shouldn't be, it should be kind of maybe dark in here but not further out. So what I like to do is just add a Layer Mask to the Drop Shadow. Make sure you're working on your mask. Grab your paintbrush, just your B key. I'm going to make sure that my Blending Mode is normal. We played around in an earlier tutorial to change it to Overlay. And in terms of the opacity I'm just going to kind of like remove parts of it, but I want to turn the opacity of that brush down. 

We're going to use our shortcut along the top of our keyboard, just remember 1, 2, 3, 4. So maybe 30%, you see the opacity changes, 40. I'm going to practice. So I'm just going to kind of build this out. Maybe even lower, 10%, just kind of clicking and dragging, and working it. Especially maybe over here. At the back there, I'm trying to make it look realistic. I'm okay with the shadow, maybe needs another bit of blurring, so you can click on this, then go up to 'Filter' and use 'Blur'. We're going to do Blur later on, but don't worry, everyone uses Gaussian Blur, so do I. You might just blur it up a bit more. 

So one of the other big obvious things I can see, is that it's just got a blue cast to it. This background's got quite a warm yellow feel to it, whereas this has got quite a blue cast. It's making this stand out too much. So with this layer selected let's even name it, let's go crazy. 'Smoothie'. And with it selected let's go to 'Adjustments', and I'm going to use Color Balance; which one is you? There he is there. Second, line sticking in, and I'm just going to shift the blue to yellow. Now at the moment it's doing it to the whole thing, so if you click on this, remember, it says, I'm only going to affect the layer just underneath me, which is Smoothie. Now I'm just going to kind of warm it up, turn it on and off. On and off, yes, getting there, so maybe a bit more red than cyan. A little bit of green for that green Smoothie. Do you like it? I feel like it sits in there a bit nicer.

Next thing I'm going to do is fix up this glass. It's like really bright compared to the background. It's not showing through any texture, and you'll run into this problem with glass, glass is tough. I'm going to do kind of a caveman fix, I want to show you what I would do now. So I'm going to zoom in. What I want to do is work on the mask. I'm going to use my paintbrush. I'm going to make a nice small brush. I'm going to have the opacity at maybe 20%. How hard is it going to be? Hardness at 0, I want it nice and fluffy. So what I want to do is-- I'm going to leave a lot of the whites, it's this gray stuff. The blacks are good, the whites are good. 

Often when you're working with glass, it's the Mid Tones that are the background. So I'm just going to caveman it and do this. I'm just painting it out. So I'm just kind of painting it out in little parts. Why? Because it's showing through the background a little bit, bringing through that kind of ready Okla that's in there. I'm just making the glass a bit more translucent. Total cheap trick rather than getting too complicated about it. Changing the colors and stuff would work, but if we put it on a different background, at least this technique is going to show through the background a bit more. I might remove a little bit of the glass as well. I mean the highlights, just to kind of lighten it up a little bit. 

To show you what I mean, remember, we can hold down 'Option' on a Mac, 'Alt' on a PC and just click on the mask, and just see what I'm doing here. It's pretty primitive, but you can see, it's just that, now kind of blend in a bit more. If I move the background, give it a name, you can see, it just kind of moves there and kind of takes on a bit of that background through it, and that should be it, but this bottom down here is annoying me as well. There's like a weird reflection that just wouldn't happen on this desktop, I feel. So you could work on the actual image and maybe darken it. I'm just going to work on the Layer Mask because I don't want to destroy the image. Do the same thing with my Brush Tool. I'm just going to kind of lower this a little bit, just the bits I don't like. Even though, would kind of peek through. All right, how much do I like it? I'm pretty happy. I'm okay with finished shadow doing weird stuff. 

One last thing, I know there's just one last thing but I-- weird thing that happened, I created a new layer, and because it was in between my Adjustment Layer and the image, kind of did this weird thing where it became what's called a Clipping Mask for this image, that happens all the time. Just drag underneath, make sure that is still using this option. Connected to the bottom, and my layer here is going to be 'Extra Shadow'. I always find believability in doing just a little bit of black paint brushing. So 'Brush', I'm going to have Opacity of maybe '50%', I'm going to use black. 

Another shortcut for you is, see my foreground and background color? One is blue, one is white. So you can click on this to force it to go black and white, but you'll see, there's my shortcut given away, 'D' key. So if I hit 'D', just sets it back to the default, black and white. X key toggles between the two. See over here, X goes foreground and background color, and D just sets it back to black and white. So here we go. I'm just going to add this on its own layer. You can see, it's kind of okay, but I probably want to set it to maybe Multiply, and maybe just lower the opacity of it down again. I like doing just that second kind of rung of super close shadow. And then there's more kind of wafty shadow. 

That's it for this one, let's jump into the next video. I'm going to set you a goal, to do stuff like this on your own. Really ties together a lot of the stuff we're learning so far. So I'll see you there.