Selecting Finely Detailed Objects in Photoshop


For selecting finely detailed images (trees with sky) the select color range tool is the first stop. Once you have that at its best, move to your toolbox and the selection tools available there. Refine edge works well for soft edged selections, hair, and more uniformly shaped objects like the smoother edged trees.

When you are compositing an image onto another, it makes sense to copy the mask to the new file and make refinements on the mask so you get a real time look at how your manipulations are working.

Select Color Range: Select, Color Range

1) Use the eyedropper to sample the colors you want to select. You can also make a selection and inverse it if it makes sense.
2) You can add to or subtract from your selection with the corresponding eye droppers. Keyboard shortcuts are Alt and Shift. Add or remove certain color ranges.
3) There are many ways to preview your selection, toggle through to the one that makes it easiest for you to see your elements.
4) You can use the Fuzziness slider to see the impact on your selection and what works best for your particular selection.
5) Once you are complete with this and have gotten it as good as you can, press OK.
6) Save your selection.

Refining your Selection

1) You can reload your saved selection at any time: Select, Load Selection
2) You can refine it using any of your selection tools in the toolbox.
3) You can only access quick mask with a selection loaded. You can further refine with the paintbrush when you are in Quick Mask Mode (Q) Painting black to subtract from your selection and white to add to it. Or, white to erase the mask and black to add to the mask.

Change Color Overlay of Quick Mask

1) This option is used when the object you're masking or selecting has a lot of red in it, and it is hard to differentiate the colors. Double click the Edit in Quick Mask Mode icon, located directly below the foreground and background color boxes. This will bring up the Quick Mask Option Panel. Here you can choose a color that is opposite on the color wheel to make your job easier. (if your image is warm pick a cool color and vice versa)


Tara G.

Photography, Photoshop & Lightroom, Consultant & Tutor

20+ hours
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