Aug 02, 2016

How to Use Select and Mask in Photoshop

How to Use Select and Mask in Photoshop CC2015 5.0

Adobe just released a new version of Photoshop CC2015, version 5.0, and with it come some great new Tools. In today’s episode, learn how to cut your subject out of their Background using Select and Mask.

Where to Find Select and Mask

If you want to select a subject to remove its Background, you can use a combination of a bunch of different Selection Tools located in the Select and Mask dialogue.

First, go to ‘Select – Select and Mask’, or click any Selection Tool and check Select and Mask on the top toolbar. This option will only be available on version 5.0 of Photoshop and up, so if you haven’t upgraded your software, be sure to do so.

How to Use the Select and Mask Tools

Select and Mask makes selecting easier by putting all of the Selection Tools in one place.

The Quick Selection Tool will guess-select a section of your subject based on where you paint. The Refine Edge Tool works well on fine areas like Hair. The Brush Tool allows you to paint in any general areas the selections might have missed. The Lasso Tool will add to or Subtract from your selection in whatever shape you Draw. Hold ‘Alt/Option’ with any Tool to deselect instead.

Advanced Settings on Select and Mask

View Modes for your selection include Onion Skin and Black and White, which you can cycle through by hitting ‘F’. Edge Detection adjusts how much of the subject’s edges your selection includes, particularly around the Hair. Global Refinements can smooth, feather, shift, or add Contrast to the Selection Edge. Use the Output Settings to choose how the selection will show up in the document. In this case, we loaded it in as a Layer Mask.


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  • user image
    Erick Wand

    Aaron, always enjoy learning new techniques from your tutorials. Fun and educational. Thanks for always sharing the proper ways to accomplish tasks.

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    Dennis Manske

    Another great tutorial Aaron. It does look like it was shot in 4K though, or something about it makes it look pretty weird. Whatever that is, it makes the video part of you look pretty odd. Thinking that more isn’t necessarily better sometimes.

    Thanks for the tutorial though! You are the best!

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    Mark Bogarin

    This is really awesome!! I have been using Topaz ReMask. I do a lot of H.S. senior banners, where I am extracting from a grey background. I would like to see you extract a girl with a lot of fly away hairs. I had a bit of trouble with that part. It is a bit quicker than Topaz though.

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    Great video, however you speak to fast, and then, even though I have PS 6 I don’t see an option under Select- Select and Mask. How do I get it?

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      Dave Pruett

      You don’t. You must have PS CC 2015.5 or later for this feature.

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    Steven maguire

    Great tutorial. However there are a lot of users of CC2015.5 that are having a lot of difficulty with the new select and mask. Even the techs on the prerelease team too. fortunately your not.

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    Philip Clark

    Wow great new tool. I love the ease of use and range of options this offers.

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    Andrew Haysom

    As mentioned in an earlier comment, I am one of the many users for whom this new tool just does not work well, I get terrible muddy bad selections when using the Refine Edge brush and it is abominably slow. I pine for the old version, hoping for an update soon, cos for me Select and Mask is rubbish.

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      Christian Benci

      I agree Andrew, in my opinion the old version was far superior.

      My biggest problem is poor performance. I have a fairly powerful PC and GPU and this tool brings my machine to a stand still.

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    Another easy to follow tutorial Aaron, you never disappoint. I love the new image quality of your videos, gives them a more life like 3D appearance.

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    Thanks, I can’t tell you how good these tutorials are (I guess you already know). I have tried learning from a book but this is just so much clearer. I am finding things I never knew existed and it’s fun. Many thanks and keep them coming.

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    Thank you Aaron Nace I was having problems with select and mask but having watched this video I now know what brush does what, also know what happens in the properties panel.
    Really enjoy your tutorials, keep up the good work

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    Why you don’t use a picture with a more complex background something more challenging?

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    Richard F Randolph

    Aaron, as always very informative. You always do a great job. What would be helpful to me is to take this one step further and try to extract an image from a more difficult background. This would give me an idea of what to expect when a customer sends you a photo and wants the background changed.

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    Marc Safran

    You’re a brilliant teacher…. efficient, enlightening and always entertaining. Thanks so much

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    Hi , do you do photo editing for other ppl ? Like me sending you a photo and you photoshoping it for me ?

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    Expecting detail tutorials on apply image and calculation command. If possible please provide us with the tutorials.

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      People lost humanity

      You should be happy there are tutorials. Comments like these are so ungrateful.

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    Spencer Pelham

    Hey, Aaron. Thanks for all you do and what you teach the community! It’d be super cool if you could teach us how to make a “Cracked Screen” effect/look in PS! Please and thank you!

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    I’m using PSCC2015.5.1 and I can’t get it to work as you demo. Nor can I find where I can change the size and sensitivity of the quick selection tool which I think I used to do. Give me back what I had because this doesn’t do it for me. Arrggg.

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    Why not try with a difficult, (more complex image)
    I have tried several times, but have trouble when the image has several shades of grey in it
    I have contacted you several times but never get an answer

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    Petrina J Hughes

    Keep getting error message when trying to use the select and mask in Pshop CC 15.5.1When selecting Onion skin I get could not complete your request as there is a programme error….
    Also the right hand panel does not look the same as yours as it is not showing the cloud selected for the mask

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    Hi, I can use Select and Mask but I don’t have access to the features on the property panel that Aaron does (onion view and the sliders etc). I only get the attached when I click properties…does anyone else have this issue?

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Use Select and Mask in Photoshop

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    Dana Niemeier

    Lost right away as soon as I couldn’t see where the quick selection tool selected ;(