Adobe Photoshop CC - Advanced Training

The easiest way in the world to mask a person in Adobe Photoshop

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi everyone, it is time to get started. We're going to start with something called Select Subject. It is an amazing tool. If you've ever spent long hours masking out people, this might make you cry, but don't worry, it's new for Photoshop. I can show it to you here in about two seconds. 'Select', 'Subject', it creates a selection, and you add a mask. Is it that easy? Yes, some of the time. So let's take this super amazing easy-to-use tool right through its paces, see what works easily, what takes a little bit more work, and if you've ever had to mask out a person, get ready for your life to be changed. Let's jump in now. 

To get started, let's go to 'File', let's go to 'Open'. In your 'Exercise Files', there is a folder called '02 Selections & Masking'. Let's open up five files, I want Select Subject 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. So 'Select Subject'. Open all five of those. Basically what I've tried to do is, this first one here, Subject 1 is pretty easy to do, and they slowly get harder and harder, because often you see tutorials online, and you're like, "Yeah, I use this tool, and it's amazing," and you know, works perfect, then you go and use, and you're like, "Hmm." "Am I doing it wrong, or is it too good to be true?" So often, with anything in Photoshop, it works perfect in that perfect situation. And I will show you what happens when it doesn't, and how to fix it. So we can become professionals, and realistic professionals. So let's start with Subject 1. 

The other thing to note is, if you go to Select, and this Subject is not there, it means you've probably got an older version of Photoshop. Unfortunately sad face, this came out in Photoshop 2018. So if you've got an earlier version, sorry, it's not going to work, but for the people that do have an up-to-date version, prepare for amazingness. There's a feature, it came out, it's under the radar, but you don't even know it exists. It's got a terrible name, not a terrible name, but it should have an exclamation mark or some sort of flame emoji next to it, because it's that good. Stop talking, Dan, and start using it, just click on it, that's pretty easy. Kick back, relax, wait for your machine to do it, depending on how big the image is. 

Look at that selection. Now don't worry, it's not absolutely 100% perfect, it gets you 80% of the way there. Let's look at the selection by adding a Layer Mask, click on that. You can see, there's a few issues going on that we can fix up reasonably easy, using one of the other cool new tools, it's called Select and Mask. But it's pretty amazing how, it uses something called Adobe Sensei, which is Adobe's Artificial Intelligence machine learning. I don't really know which of those it is, it's fancy though. It looks at lots of other images online, and tries to calculate a selection based on kind of past images. To be honest I don't know how it works, but I do know how to fix our selection because there's a few little bits that are just, you can see around the beard there, sometimes it's just perfect. 

I found one that was kind of half good, it's done a pretty good job. So to fix it up what we're going to do is, just make sure your mask is selected over here. So not the image, click the mask. Then click on 'Select & Mask', another really cool feature. Now at the top here, yours is probably set to Onion Skin. Let's go against 'On Black', it's going to give us a really good contrast between the background and the model. And I've got my Opacity right up, if yours is not. 

Now in these features here, yours might be all twirled up, nice and pretty like that. There is no like exact thing that I use every time. There is a lot of playing, so you might spend-- like we spend like, absolutely like three seconds doing the initial mask, but you might spend another minute or two dragging these sliders up and down to see what it does. Each detection is going to work reasonably well in this one because I've practiced. Basically what it does, it just gives you kind of a fluffy edge for it do some more calculations in. Smart Radius on, Smart Radius off. Don't worry too much about what Smart Radius does. Do it on and off to see, does it make it better? In my case no, does it make it worse? I think I like it on, leaves a bit more detail here. And I close up Edge Detection, let's go to Global Refinements. 

Smoothing it out, it probably needs a little bit. There's a few bits that are bit jagged over here. And if you're like, "Hmm, did I make it better, or worse?” See up here, where it says Show Original, turn that on. Turn that off, we've made a load better. So P key, you can just toggle that on your keyboard. See the thing in the brackets there, P on, P off. Feather, I never use, you might have an experiment with it, you might love it. Same with Contrast, Shift Edge, I use a bit, just to kind of tuck it in a little bit, there's a bit of ghosting around the outside, so how much? 

Now Shift Edge and this one down here called Decontaminate Colors, I kind of fight between. Sometimes I use this, sometimes I use this one. Let's turn on Decontaminate Colors. Have a look here along the top, so off, on, it just kind of helps extract the image from the background. So sometimes it's shifting the edge in a little bit, or Decontaminate Colors. In this case I'm doing a bit of both, let's go back out. It's looking pretty good. There are some manual touch-ups I need to do. Like there's a bit of a shoulder missing. 

So what we're going to use is this option here, the third option down, the Brush Tool. This is basically-- I'm just going to click and drag. It just kind of adds the background back in, in one big fell swoop. Because this thing's doing so many calculations over here, my drag is taking forever to kind of populate, so I'm going to undo that. I'm going to zoom in, move down, I'm just going to paint in with my paintbrush, give it a second. So I'm just going to paint in some of the kind of poorer areas. It's all looking good. There's a few bits of ears that I might touch up. 

So with it natural, it just paints things back in. And I undo that. If you hold down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or the 'Option' key on a Mac, it's really hard to see out here on the screen, but there's a little plus '+' that turns into a minus '-'. So I'm just going to toggle that a little bit off from his ear. That probably needs a couple of clicks. Except the beard there. You can see, it's always calculating. That's why it's a little bit hard in this area. Sorry, this Mask & Select program to be very quick. It depends on how fast your computer is. How big are the images, how much of these dials you've messed around with. I'm happy enough with that, like it's a pretty good mask, right? 

It really depends on its final position. I'm going to put mine on the brick work, which is Subject 5, and it's going to be pretty forgiving' so let's click 'OK'. What you'll notice is, if you turn on Decontaminate Colors, that last little option, instead of updating your current Layer Mask, it will create its own one. So I want to move it to this last head here, and grab my 'Move Tool'. Click, hold, drag, drag, drag. Holding the 'Tab', then drag it back down. And, pretty awesome mask. Cool, huh? Let's look at a few more examples, and go deeper with this kind of model selection. 

So I'm at 'Select Subject 2'. Let's do the same thing, let's go to 'Select', 'Subject'. Kick back, relax, and be amazed. This one here is a lot different, because there's a lot more kind of like fine here, which is always a problem when you're selecting models. Even so, it's done a pretty amazing job. There's a little bit of stuff here where the color of his jacket is very similar to the background. But let's just apply the mask, and see where we're at. Now you might decide, actually, that's it, that's good enough for me. I am out of here, it's a pretty amazing tool. Well done, Photoshop software engineers. But let's go into it in a little bit more detail. 

So make sure you've got your 'Mask' selected, and let's go to 'Select & Mask'. You can see, against black, there's some issues. Now, in the last image, we had a pretty consistent line around the outside. The guy had a nice clean edge, and not frizzy haired like this person. Nice, easy to mask here, this person, not so easy. I find this better as a two-step process. If you've got global controls that does every single edge here, then you can use your brushes to do little bits. So I find I get the big global stuff done first, and then come back into here to do things, like here. 

So in here, there's a bit of experimenting. I'm just looking at some of these edges, like here we go, we'll use this bit here. So radius, drag it up. Am I happy with it? It's getting better. Remember P, on your keyboard. I think I liked it better before. I think it needs a little bit of smoothing. There's too many like jagged bits, so I'm just going to smooth it out a little bit. There you go. It's done it look nice, radius. There are no settings specific, it's just-- it depends on your image, and depends on the look I'm looking for. I think there's a pretty good one, so P key, tap it on, tap it off. Ignore it here, but look at the edges of the jacket. It's done a whole lot better, great. 

So I've finished that now, I'm going to click 'OK'. Because now I want to go back into it. So the same thing again, Select & Mask, and work on just this, because these are all reset back to zero. If you don't, and you start using this tool here, the Redefine Edge Tool, it just becomes a bit messy. It's all trying to do lots of things at the same time. So this tool here, brilliant, watch this. Prepare yourselves, click, drag. And I'm dragging, and you're like, "It's okay, not bad," but wait for it when I let go. Magic, some amazingly selected here. There's a little bit of ghosting around which we can fix, but you see all this here, which doesn't exist. And it magically does, watch this, click and drag. So good! And what I might do is, there's a couple of things, one last thing, these eyebrows need just a tiny bit of work. What I might do is, smaller brush size, just kind of work them around here. And there's this bit in here. 

Will the Refine Edge work on it? Oh, it did. I thought I was going to have to jump to this plain old paintbrush, but you impress me more. Cool, from here on in, like it depends on where you're using it again. If against black you're going to have to spend a bit more time in here. I want to touch on, take it tentatively close, that's not for me. If you ever turn that on, it's going to create this new layer with mask. I just want to go back to just updating my Layer Mask, please, rather than a whole new layer. Let's click 'OK', I am-- how happy am I with it? I'm going to copy and paste it onto here. Check it, let's turn you off. Goodbye, woonky man. 

Back to Subject 2, and instead of dragging it-- people hate this, I hate it. It's a pain doing it that way, I'm just going to show you another way, because we're here for some advanced tips, right? So right click. 'Layer 0' you might already know this. We go to 'Duplicate Layer', and it'll allow you to put it on anything that's open, and here's our Select Subject 5. Click 'OK'. Then jump to Select 5, and there he is. The cool thing about it, he comes with his Layer Mask, which is handy. Do this more for this image, and the top of it is clipped, but you get the idea, right, and look at the hair, look at the hair selection. Oh, so good, eyebrows selection, 100% eyebrow selection. 

So with a bit of practice, if this is something you're doing regularly, you could imagine how fast you could make this. We've been learning it together, I've been teaching you. It's only taken a couple of minutes. Let's turn this fella off, and get to our Subject 3. So this guy has some issues, or not issues, let's have a look. Let's go to 'Select', and go to 'Subject'. I want to show you what ends up happening. We're going to miss bits, that's what it's going to do. You can see, there's a bit on the eyebrow down here that just doesn't match up. Is a bit that hasn't got there, that's okay. It's done a pretty good job, it's going to stretch up these things, and that's what's the problem with this one is, that the background has--

See these kind of streaks heating up through the wood. They are going to cause problems when we try and fix it up, so we'll just go a little bit further with this third option, with a few extra issues, because the first two were pretty easy. Still pretty amazing, let's click on our 'Layer Mask', and again, you might decide, job done. With it selected though, we're going to go to 'Select & Mask', and yeah, there's a few little issues. Can we fix this up globally? It's mainly just the hair, the actual sides of him look okay, maybe let's do a little bit of smoothing, just to kind of even out some of that. 

Remember, the P key on and off. This bit here, I could use my Refine Edge brush, let's go here. Let's try and drag across this, this is where we'll find, it's kind of working, but kind of not. It's because there's a big lump of dark wood running up here, so it really wants to kind of reach into there, rather than have a nice crisp edge. So to get around things like that, you're actually going to have to do some actual physical painting using the Brush tool. So I got the Brush tool, but I want to use minus '-'. I'm just going to manually tweak this out. 

The cool thing about using the Brush tool, and using these settings, is that you're brushing, but it's also applying this kind of smoothing to it as well. There's a bit down here that we need to get rid of, and that Refine Edge brush is never going to work. So we're going to tidy these up manually. Brush sizes. Why doesn't it work? Because I've tried it, and couldn't make it work. There is just times where you're going to have to get in there, with a teeny tiny paintbrush. As long as you're inside Select & Mask, and you've made some of these adjustments, like Smooth, while you are going, it's adjusting. It can slow your computer down a little bit though. So you, goodbye. 

So I've done the edges, now I want to do the hair. And what I like to do, instead of going in and doing the edges of the hair now, I have to click 'OK' and come back in. Why? Because it's trying to do that smoothing all the time, I'm using my Refine Edge brush. And they're kind of fighting with each other, and I don't like that. I find it doesn't give me a nice result. So I click 'OK', and then just go straight back in. And everything set back to 0, see Smoothing is at 0, now I get to go to Refine Edge tool. 

How big is my brush? That works for me. Let's have a little look. I'm just going to rub across his beard. Quite intimate here, with the man's beard. Love the tool. It's all about the combination of tools in Photoshop, once you get to kind of an advanced level, right? Knowing which tools to use, which is the hardest thing, and that's why I'm here to show you. It's also combining them. Now, can you see here, this is a bit of a problem, because there is a streak of wood that runs up there, and that's what's giving us our problems here. So what we're going to have to do is just get in super tiny. This is the way to get round these kind of issues. 

So getting super tiny, I'm holding down the 'Alt' key on a PC. When I say get in super tiny, I say, go get a nice and close. And I'm going to hold down the 'Option' key on my Mac, 'Alt' key on a PC. And just get rid of these. Even smaller brush. And you can find you can kind of work it back in and back out. Just small little parts, here we go. 'P' key before, after. Cool. Just working around, see it looks good. Not sure why the beard seems-- it seems more personal. Comments here, I'm sure I could. Trimming his beard. You don't need to know this. All right, ear, now the ear here, I'm reluctant to hit it with this tool because it will kind of make his ear all wishy washy. 

I know it's a nice solid part of skin so I'm going to go to my Brush tool, and just use my minus '-'. Make it a bit bigger, holding down the minus '-' key, or the 'Alt' key on my, sorry, the 'Option' key on my Mac, the 'Alt' key on my PC, I'm just going to go around here, and just manually tidy it up. All right, my friends, you're looking handsome, let's click 'OK'. Cool mask, let's move it to this other document, and I'm going to share with you one last, kind of moving it to another document trick. So we've done the drag, we've done the duplicate. There's an old but new updated feature, Copy & Paste. 

The reason you probably don't use Copy & Paste is, in the past, you went, 'Select All', 'Copy', 'Paste', and it only brought through either the image or the mask. You can see it here, didn't bring in the whole, like little group. But that's been fixed by Adobe. So instead of doing like a Select All, and Copy, just go to-- so I've got this layer selected, that layer selected there, just go to 'Copy', you can use your shortcut. 'Command C' on a Mac, and then go to here and go to 'Paste'. And magic, Photoshop has fixed it, and prints through the mask and the image. So no more drag, drag, drag into the tab. You got an older version of Photoshop, you still have to do it, but 2018 on you can just go 'Command C', 'Command V'. 

Brings through things like Bevel & Embosses and Drop shadows, and all sorts of cool stuff. So now, just select 'Layers 1', copy it, paste it, brings everything through. Let's look at our last one, and this is the hardest of them all. It's still pretty amazing. Let's go to 'Select', 'Subject'. There's just a lot of work to do, this one. I want to show you what I would do here. But there is just some manual labor, it's done a pretty good job for most of it. I'm going to add a Layer Mask, now that's not working, right?

There's quite a lot of it, so what I'm going to do is, I'm going to, instead of going in and trying to fix it all in the-- remember the Select & Mask which we've done, we're going to utilize the Quick Selection Tool. Now if you are old-school Photoshop, and you're like, magic wand tool, Quick Selection Tool, we don't use them because they're terrible, it is amazing. Quick Selection Tool. I'm going to go through and do a couple of bits. First of all I don't need any of this. So what I might do is actually just start with my Rectangle Marquee Tool. Hold down the 'Option' key on my Mac, 'Alt' key on a PC, and drag a box around it to say I do not want any of that. If you're like me and you're like, "I wonder what's still selected", probably an easy way is just to toggle that button. It just kind of makes everything red to show you what you've got selected and what you don't. And toggle it off. 

So back to our Quick Selection Tool, turn on Auto Enhance, makes it better. Not sure why it would not be on. I'm going to zoom in. And I find this is a good way to get kind of closer to where you need to be, to do the finer adjustments in the Select & Mask. So I'm going to add. Quick Selection Tool's pretty amazing. It itself learns as you go. So you'll find your initial selections can be okay but as you go along, it's not actually just clicking on here. It's actually going back and looking at the rest of the selection, and making adjustments, because it knows more, it's damn smart.

You can see there, it just gets better and better, as it learns what I want and what I don't want. Just clicking and dragging down here, doing a bit of a loop around here. It's grabbed too much in there. Now I find as well, if I did a big drag there, it kind of went, it started spreading out too much. So I'm going to step backwards, so 'Edit', 'Step Backwards' a bunch of times. Step backwards, I'm using that shortcut. Just clicking once, and once is actually probably a nicer way of using it. And I went and did it anyway, go away, you. Bonus to me. 

I'm holding down the 'Option' key on my Mac to remove from the selection. So naturally it wants to add the selection. But you can hold down the 'Option' key on a Mac, 'Alt' key on a PC to remove the final selection, get rid of stuff. If you get lost in here, remember, just tap on this again, with a quick selection. I only use that to make it red. I'm not going to use that tool anymore. It was cool. You can see here, blue and blue, it's pretty amazing how good it gets. There's probably going to be some issues with the shoe lace. There's definitely some issues with the shoe down here. For the moment I'm going to ignore the shoelace, otherwise you'll be watching me forever, I'm just giving it a bit of a once-over. Looking around, anything that I do or don't want. It's a little bit in here. 

What I'm going to do is get the editor speed up this last little bit, because it's just me being probably a little bit pedantic. So, see you at the end. We're back, so a little bit more, well a lot more work, but still, we got a lot of it, got 70% of it, right? And add a Layer Mask, and I go into my Select & Mask. And look at some global overall changes, probably smooth. A little bit, just smooth it out a bit, Smart Radius. It's pretty good, happy enough with it. So I did retouching for a lot of years, and you get like, you'll get a hundred photos of this guy. Like the settings are all the same, you're like, "I have to go smoothing and shift the edge", and often you get to the same point, like you've kind of played around with it for a while. So down the bottom here you can say, Remember Settings. Every time you load this back up, it's going to remember the last thing you did. Which can save yourself some time. 

The other thing to know is that we are, in this one here, say, High Quality Preview is not turned on. Mainly because it takes a long time to calculate, and it makes your machine run really slowly. So if you're here, and you're like, "Oh man, it's 95% there", click 'OK', you might find that in that last little bit of processing, it finishes it all out for you. So it's good, even though he is actually fine enough for what I want to do, but now I might go back in and work on the hair, he's got a pretty, easy hair style, like mine. I'm mostly bald, so masking me, pretty easy. Masking this guy, small brush. Just testing here really, I didn't practice this, I'm just going to. 

Do I like it? I think it adds a little bit. Just 'Decontaminate Colors'. Don't like that. Remember, if you turn that on it instantly changes, actually Decontaminate Colors on this, lower it down a little bit. Still doing some weird stuff across here. It's maybe because the blue from their containers reaching around. I think I like it on, but with the amount down a bit. That sight there is new as well. Well at least my version, that wasn't there before. So it was either on or off. What you'll notice down here, where it says Artboard 2, you can't go back to that original Layer Mask. It'll say, I'll make a Layer Mask but it has to be a brand new layer. Why? Because it does some weird stuff. First of all I don't like it. I'm probably going to go back, but if you did my Essentials course, you'll know that if I disable this mask, you'll see, it does some weird stuff to the actual original image. That's why it leaves the original behind. 

If you're wondering like, "Man, it's a pain, that just creates this new layer", it's because it actually destroys the original to make this thing happen, they decontaminate colors, which a lot of the time is pretty amazing. In this case I don't like it so I'm just going to go back to the original one I had. A little bit soft on the edges, but I'm okay with that. Pretty cool mask. The layer selected, remember, all I need to do is go 'Command C', 'Command V'. Brings the Layer Mask as well as the image. If you're on PC, it’s 'Ctrl C', 'Ctrl V'. And just got it here, it's nice. 

All right, I hope you enjoyed that tool, it's called Select Subject. I hope I've made it a little bit more usable, when you get results that are sub-par, you can fix a lot of it in Select & Mask. If you've got big chunks that are missing, you can use that Quick Selection Tool, so it's a combo deal. 

All right, handsome men, not sure why I ended up with all guys on this one. All looking great, all looking great masks. I will see you in the next video for a little bit of project work.