How Good Is the New Subject Select Tool in Photoshop?

Making selects in Photoshop can vary from one click of a button, through to painstaking pathing and manual refinement. Well, Photoshop 2020 now has a new selection tool called "Subject Select" — but how good is it?

I often have to make selections in my post production phase of work. Sometimes I can do it fairly effortlessly due to high contrast, but often they are more complex than the automated functions can handle. That said, there are plenty of retouchers who are better at manipulating the parameters of Photoshop's tools to get the selection closer to where they want it to end, but for most users, nothing will get you that close on a complex image. 

The problem with most images is that the subject just isn't obvious to the software — or indeed, any software. In one of the last example Aaron Nace of PHLEARN gives in this video shows just how tricky it can be to separate out subject from background, even to the human eye. If a subject's hair or garments are close enough in exposure and color to the background, they can be almost indecipherable. Photoshop's new "Subject" tool under the "Select" dropdown menu does suffer with many of the familiar issues that automated selections suffer, but I would say it is an improvement.

Have you tried this tool out yet? What did you think?

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7 Comments

Nitin Chandra's picture

For wildlife and birding, I don't see much change in the update, but, yes, the crashes have increased in the latest update.

David Austerberry's picture

Can’t remember the last time it crashed on me, months and months ago. I find PS rock steady.

David Love's picture

If you have to refine your edge then it's not perfect and if it's not perfect it's more work fixing the bad guessing this tool does. And when this tool is about the only thing they ever work on it should be amazing by now. But then again this is the new Adobe. Snail crawl while the money comes in. Just use the pen tool and get it perfect it from the start.

Marc Perino's picture

The crashes I can confirm. Since the last update it crashed on me twice or three times. That very rarely happened before.
I do a lot of knockouts and the tool works better than before. Of course you have to still clean up a few things. But for fast comps it is great.

Marc Perino's picture

So how does your assignment writing helps with selecting subjects in Photoshop? 🤔

Michelle Maani's picture

Better, but not perfect. But some of their other tools are much worse.

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