Have you ever needed to change or replace a backdrop behind a person’s face or a furry animal, only to be confounded by trying to make a detailed selection of the hair around the edges?
There are several techniques you can use to accomplish this, but Photoshop CS5 has come out with a dandy new way to select fine detail like you find in hair, without including unwanted background information.
- In Photoshop, use your favorite selection tool to select the subject.
- Open the Masks panel and click on the Add a pixel mask icon.
- Click the Mask Edge… button. The Refine Mask dialog box opens.
- In the Edge Detection area, click the View drop-down icon and choose the view that allows you to see the edge clearly.
- Click the Refine Radius tool. It looks like a paint brush.
- In Photoshop’s main window, the Refine Radius tool options now appear in the Options panel above the picture. Adjust the brush size there (or use using the bracket keys next to the P on the keyboard) until the radius of your brush is large enough to include the length of the hairs, from the edge of the subject to the tips of the hairs.
- Using the center point of the brush as an edge guide, press and drag around the edge of your subject.
- Increase the radius slider if necessary to ensure that the longer hairs are within the selection area.
- To make sure that the background is not included with the selected hairs, click the Decontaminate Colors checkbox.
- Use the Decontaminate slider to refine the settings.
- Using the main image area in Photoshop to preview the image, continue to refine other settings until you have the best detail.
- Finally, clicking the Create New Layer checkbox will create a separate layer that you can place over a new background.
See how Russell Brown, Adobe expert and educator, combines this technique with Photoshop’s new Content Aware Fill, on Adobe TV: