This lesson is exclusive to members

Adobe Photoshop CC - Essentials Training

How to select hair in Adobe Photoshop CC

Daniel Walter Scott

Download Exercise Files



We’re awarding certificates for this course!

Check out the How to earn your certificate video for instructions on how to earn yours and click the available certificate levels below for more information.

You need to be a member to view comments.

Join today. Cancel any time.

Sign Up

Hey there, in this video we're going to look at some of the really tough stuff to mask. Like this kind of, out of focus here. Also this white T-shirt, because it's against the white background we're going to mask it out, stick it against this bit, all using Photoshop's new Select and Mask technique. I love it, it's easy, and I'm going to show you how to do that now in Photoshop. 
First up, let's go to 'File', 'Open'. Let's go to 'Select and Mask 1' and '2'. We're going to copy out the model. Mask her, and put her on to this background here. Now in terms of this image, I tried to find a tough one. It has two things bad, one thing good. One thing good is it's a professional photograph so everything's in relative focus. If you're shooting your own stuff, and it's kind of out of focus it can be really tough. Now the cons for this one, over here, it's not a con but I guess that's what we're here for, right? Hard, some tough stuff. The other tough thing is, when say the shirt here matches the background, it's quite hard to mask, so I'm going to show you tricks to get around both of these. 
I was tempted to find an example that was absolutely easy and perfect but that'll just make you feel bad when you're doing yours and it's not quite working. So this is going to get us like, it's going to get us like 85-90 % awesome. It's not absolutely perfect, because just here is tricky. Especially when it's not quite in focus, like here and when the model's T-shirt matches the background, is a little bit tough as well, and it's real world people; let's do some real world stuff. This thing is called Select and Mask. If you're using our earlier version of Photoshop, maybe 2017 or before, it's not going to be around, which isn't cool, but if you're like me, with Photoshop 2018 or 19 it's going to work great. 
So how this works is, you need to start with a selection. So the way this thing works, is you need to start with a selection. We’re going to start with our Quick Select. So you need to start with a selection, a reasonably good one, and then the Selector Mask is going to do the kind of final touch-ups. So I've got my Quick Selection Tool selected, I've got a brush, it's about 300. I'm going to start painting her in. Really broadly to start with them all, we'll fix it up as we go, so I'm letting go. I've got Auto Enhance on. Slows your Machine down a little bit but does make your selection a little better. Especially when we're getting to this hair stage, and this, when it's really hard, and not a clear background foreground definition. I figured, let's turn it on. 
So this is the big chunk, so now I'm going to zoom in a bit and just kind of work our way around the edge to make sure I've got everything in there. So when we start over here-- let's leave that to Select and Mask, the wispy stuff let's leave, but the stuff that's absolutely 100% here, not mixing with the background, it should be easy enough to grab, or at least make sure it's in your selection. All there, I have to remove a little bit there. Remove a little bit there. Auto Enhance is making this a little slow so what I might do is just show you the basics. Click to add, hold down the 'Option' key on my Mac, or 'Alt' key on a PC just to tap and remove, and I'll get the editor to speed this up. 
All right, you're back. That was probably another 90 seconds to two minutes. Just to kind of get the basics in. So once you've got a selection, then you add a Layer Mask, like we did before. So just click on the 'Layer Mask' button. You can see, it's okay around places, and bad at others, I'm going to zoom out. Now here's the magic, it's this thing here called Select and Mask. You just got to make sure your mask is selected, not the actual image, the mask. Click on it here, or up here in your App bar, either one, give it a click, and we get into this view. Now yours by default is probably set to onion skin. I'm not sure when I've ever used that. What I use is one of two, it's either against black, and I have the 100%, I have the Opacity at 100%, gives me a really good contrast. 
So my great selection, it looked okay in the last view, looks terrible against black. I guess that's just a good way of looking at it, right? If it was a dark object or a dark image I could go against white, and that would give me a better contrast, but against black, it's going to work for me. Now yours might be all tucked up like this. Now over here, are kind of global changes, it changes it to all the edges. All the same, and over here, kind of more individual changes. So in this case, if it was just a T-shirt, like it was a product shot, I could probably just do it with playing around with these global changes, but because there's so many different things happening, like here, and this is light, but then the skin's got a good contrast, I find that I go, jump straight to these tools over here. 
Let me quickly run through these. I never use Edge Detection, it kind of goes around the whole thing and tries to fix it all. I haven't found that good in my experience, you might love it. Under Global Refinements, there's two I end up using, Smooth and Shift Edge. Watch this, I'm going to crank up Smoothing. It takes a little while because it's quite a large image. It's just going to kind of try and smooth these edges. That's really good when it's a single object, like if it was just this T-shirt, that would be it, kind of smooth around the edges, makes everything look nice. This key here is quite handy. Can you see, it says 'Show Original', or just tap the 'P' key on your keyboard. See, before. You got to give it a sec, stressing out a little bit, it's a big image. After. Wait for it. Editor will zoom in real close really. I'm going to turn it off. Wait, wait. There it is. Turn it back on, and that's our smoothing. 
So that's really good for a really large object. I'm going to turn it completely off for the moment because it's too generic. It's working on all the edges, and I want to just work on them individually. Shift Edge is the other one that I use, and it just tucks out. Let's show you the opposite, let's go shifting it out. Just kind of expands the selection a tiny few fractions of a pixel. Then if I tuck it in, kind of goes in a little bit. So in, out. I find that's quite handy if there's kind of Color Bleeding around the outside. I'm going to leave it at 0 for the moment and I'm going to work on this bit individually. 
So the magic trick really is this brush here, the second one down. This is going to-- it's called the Refine Edge Brush Tool, like it says there. It's really good for here. So how big a brush is? You're going to have to experiment. It really depends on the kind of overlap you want. For me, this size of the brush, it's 200 pixels. Watch this. Ready for the magic? Pretty cool, huh. So it's gone through and looked, and kind of played with the contrast. Just so you know, this is not going to be, like I said at the beginning, it's not going to give you 100% perfect everything, but it's definitely the best option there for selecting here. You can see it gets a little bit foggy around here. 
So I'm going to undo, and maybe go to a smaller brush and just kind of paint in little parts. I'm going to zoom in a little bit. Don't zoom in too much because it gets a bit messy in here. And there's a bit over here. There it is there. Now the further you go around there it's quite wispy around here, so I'm happy to use a bigger brush. The further I go around, where there's not much here. I'm going to use a smaller brush, and just straddle the mask and the image. Just kind of run it along the center there, and it just gives a nice kind of blend across the two. You can see there, some amazing stuff, and there's some horrible stuff. So far, pretty amazing. I love it. 
I'm just working my way around the edge and little pieces, only because often I have to go and undo it because I might have grabbed something I didn't want to, or it's just gone a bit yucky. What ends up happening is, if you use too big a brush, you end up like in here. Ends up getting kind of ghosty in here. So I'm going to undo a couple of times, 'Edit', 'Step Backward'. Back to my brush. Now where you have to be a bit more precise is where you go from this kind of wispy hair stuff to a nice solid edge, because if you don't, watch this, goes a bit murkier there. So where we get to this part, we're going to use a different trick. 
So if I go over here now, good enough. So where it gets to this white edge here, this is the other tough bit. So using this tool here is not going to work. We have to be a bit more brute-force about it because if we just paint it in, the background's too close to the color of the T-shirt. If this T-shirt was bright blue it would work perfect, you could just run the brush along the edges maybe make a smaller brush, and it would work fine, but again I wanted to pick an exercise that was quite tough so that you've got the tools you need. 
So we're going to use this tool here and it's nothing fancy, it's just a big kind of like blob brush. You can either add to the selection or remove from it. So I'm going to add to it. I'm going to zoom in. Basically we just kind of try and tidy up this edge by painting it in. It's not very sexy. What I might do as well, where the brush is concerned, can you see, my brush is quite-- it's got a really strong edge here. I want to drop it down-- I find it's going to depend on your image, but between 80 and 90 is kind of, I find gives you a nice crisp edge, but with enough fuzziness to match the focus of the camera because it's never going to be 100%. 
So I'm just going to kind of work my way along here. Just hiding in things, this is the painful bit. Like I said, if this was a colored, a really nice strong contrast, black T-shirt would be perfect. We wouldn't have to do any of this, but here we are. So there's bit that's poking out. Same like we did with the Quick Selection Tool. To remove from this mask we hold down the 'Alt' key on a PC, or the 'Option' key on a Mac and just kind, just clicking a few times. How much do I want to go around and do this? I don't want to do it at all but what you've got to remember is, I've spent like hours working on masks only to find out that-- like where it's going to end up, it's quite a model background, so you're not going to see any of this. Like, it's kind of in and out a little bit because of my Quick Selection Tool, but to be honest, I know the final result is going to look fine because the background is quite forgiving, I'd say. 
So now we're back on to some high contrast. So let's go back to that lovely tool here. Watch this. Ready, steady. Cool, huh? So I tap my 'P' key, before, after. So with this strong contrast, super easy. Just run along the edge and it magics it up. The smaller the paint brush, the more you zoomed in, the better. I'm holding the space bar, clicking, holding, and dragging with my mouse. So now I'm just going to make my brush a little smaller and just click, hold. It goes fuzzy, all it's doing is-- a little bit tough to know where you're going. You can see there, it's not as great. This is because it's quite white against this edge. Where it's got a really easy contrast, it does a whole lot better. You can see, it's there. So if she had a really pale skin, it's going to be super tough and you have to get in with a really small paintbrush and see if you can fix it up. Don't worry if you don't, if it's just a little tiny inch like this. 
I'm going to show you a last little trick we're going to use to kind of fix it up to them for the final one. Now I should work around this edge, I'm not going to because I know it's going to look good because remember, unless it's going against black, which is a terrible idea, because it really shows the mask. This is looking pretty good. So the last magic you can do is this one here. I'm going to twirl up Global Refinements, and go to 'Output Settings'. Let's click on 'Decontaminate Colors'. Ready, steady, be amazed. Cool, huh? It looks for, like the color creeping around the outside. So you know how, if I put something in front of our-- like a bright green backdrop, the green kind of leaks around the edges, this helps to remove that. 
There's only one drawback with it, and I'll show you what it is, and it's worth living with, but it's kind of weird, so I figured I'll show you. You can see, it's gone to 'Output to' its own layer, with a Layer Mask. That's great for me, click 'OK '. What it's done is, can you see, its own layer and its own Layer Mask. There's the original and there's the new one. So you've got this one always because this one here that I've made, because we turn Decontaminate Colors on, it does this. I'm going to right click the Mask, and say 'Disable', go away for a second. You see what it did with the edges there? It's really weird, kind of put them into a super high contrast. For whatever reason, it needs to do that to get rid of that kind of color cast creeping around the outside. I'm not worried about it, just need to know that that's happened. Don't worry though because on this original layer he's still fine. 
If you decide not to use that Decontaminate Colors, it looks perfect. It doesn't do that weird stuff. I'm going to 'Enable Mask.'. I've got this layer selected, I'm going to grab my 'Move Tool'. Click, hold, drag to 02, drag, it's a bit big. Let's scale it down. Remember, it's 'Command T' on a Mac, 'Control T' on a PC. How low do I want it to be? Just getting it to fit in. Hit 'Return'. It's pretty cool, huh. I'm going to zoom in. It's just done a really nice job of the hair. The bit where I bothered to touch other T-shirts looking better, and they've been there. I do have problems with now. So you can go back, select on this, go back in, and do Select and Mask again. Just use the paint brush to tidy up those sleeves there. I'm going to click 'OK'. I'm not going to click 'OK' because it's given me a duplicate so I'm going to undo because I didn't do anything. You're back on, buddy. 
Couple of last things you might do to just kind of get these things to work a little nicer is, I often find a Drop Shadow to the actual subject, it can often help it recall and settle in the image. So with layers-- I'm going to give it a name, I'm going to call this one 'Model'. With it selected, we're going to go to 'fx', and go to 'Drop Shadow.'. Now mine's remembered what I was doing when I was experimenting with this. What I've done is, instead of having like, say-- let's have a look, I'm going to crank it up. Instead of a Drop Shadow, kind of cast from an angle, let's say that angle there, what I'm going to do is have no distance, and have the size right up. You can see, just puts kind of a halo effect around it. I probably won't have the Opacity so high. I'll turn it a little bit more. Watch this, preview on, preview off, just helps it settle in there a little bit more. You might not like that, you don't have to do it. Let's click 'OK'. 
One last thing you might do is the Levels. So this image here, like this one here is quite rich and quite dark. The Mid Tones are quite dark, whereas this one, Mid Tones are quite bright. So to kind of get them to match a little bit we need to either play with the levels on the background or the model. It really depends on what look you're looking for. I'm going to do it for the model. So with the model selected, I'm going to go to 'Adjustments' and I'm going to go to 'Levels'. Getting pretty complicated here, I know, but I really wanted to give you the full thing of how to do it. 
So on Properties here, I'm going to make sure it's only affecting the layer underneath. Remember that little thing there, says, just affect the layer underneath. You can see that little arrow there, says, Levels only affecting the model layer. Now I'm going to grab the Mid Tones, just kind of darken it down a little bit. You can mess around with the highlights and the shadows to kind of get it to match your version or at least the images you're working with. I feel like we're there. In retrospect, I probably would have painted over this more than once. You can see, it's still leaking some of the light through. I would probably paint it in a couple of times to get it to be a little bit crisper. Probably, a little less of the fluffy hair through but probably what I would have done 
All right friends, so the basic rules are, if you're writing them down, it is, make a basic selection using the Quick Selection Tool, with your mask selected, use this, 'Select and Mask', which should be called super awesomeness. Then, unless it's a really kind of an even selection or kind of even edge shape, instead of using this global stuff on the right, start working around the long way with the paint brush, but it's not actually that long because it's pretty amazing. Let's hit 'Cancel', and I will see you in the next video