Five Tricks For Accurate Selections in Photoshop

Getting a pinpoint selection of an object in Photoshop is one of the most basic skills but also can be one of the hardest tasks to do. Here are five tips for getting accurate selections on even the most difficult details.

Nothing looks worse in Photoshop than a bad composite. Poor cutouts, out of place color casts, and jagged selections are all common mistakes. Even experienced photographers have trouble with this. However, the most difficult selection of all is a person’s hair. Hair can become a never-ending process to accurately select it with all of its detail and range of colors.

This video from Tutvid’s Nathaniel Dodson offers a handful of tips on overcoming these frustrating areas. This tutorial provides a full workflow on selecting a subject. Dodson relies on Photoshop’s select and mask tool, but as you’ve likely experienced it isn’t a perfect option. Much of the battle is learning how to use the options and sliders inside of the tool. If appropriately used, Photoshop can do most of the work itself.

I’ll also add that when doing a composite of any kind, there are two things you need to do. First, it's imperative that you zoom in and check every edited edge. You will always find an overlooked area that will need correcting. Second, take some time away from your image after you finish. Often you will return, and upon your first look, you will see something obviously out of place. Dodson has several more tips in his video above. You should check it out!

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7 Comments

Rod Kestel's picture

The thing that gets me is - especially with things like hair or leaves - is the colour cast on the thing you're cropping. Hair invariably has bits of the background colour in it. I'm sure there's a good solution but haven't nutted it yet.

Maybe it's in this video but 30 minutes is a bit long. Yeah, the impatient generation.

Otto Schlemmer's picture

it is shown in detail how to resolve this problem. just watch the vid ;)

Rod Kestel's picture

Well okay, but I'm going to have to work? Jeez.

This is the one thing no one has cracked, despite their protests to the contrary. Not Adobe, Affinity, Topaz, or any of the others. Sure, they can tackle the softball examples like the woman at the top of the article against a flat, single color background. How about isolating someone with frizzy hair in the middle of a crowd at a flea market?

The day someone succeeds with an easy way to do this will be as important as the day Adobe announced Content Aware replacement technology.

Rod Kestel's picture

For sure it will happen one day.

You'll give the computer voice instructions "Dude, I totally want you to, like you know, cut that blonde from the background. And while you're at it, remove the fleas."

Otto Schlemmer's picture

one of the best videos regarding this topic i've seem in a long time ... definitely watch it, and take notes if you need to do stuff like this often! thank you for sharing!

Super tutorial! I'm working often on selecting hair. Moslty pets. This wil help. Thanks!