A Simple Method for Making Difficult Selections in Photoshop

Making a perfect selection in Photoshop is one of the most infuriating skills in our craft, especially for highly difficult details such as hair. This video demonstrates a unique way to select the subject in any image.

There are so many ways to make a selection in Photoshop. In fact, there are probably too many. I have played around with these different methods for a while trying to find the best way to select the subjects of an image consistently. I have yet to find the perfect technique as every picture is unique. However, Nathaniel Dodson of tutvid has a simple way of making difficult selections that is reasonably quick and applies to most images.

One of the major issues in making selections of people is the hair. The long parts of the body can also appear jagged after being cut out. Basically, the techniques needed for selecting smooth sections of the body are far different from the ones required for selecting the finer details. What Dodson does is he differentiates how he thinks about body parts and then applies a specific technique for each area. He shares two methods in this video: one for getting crisp edges for the smooth regions using the global refinement adjustments, and a second method for choosing more precise areas like hair.

In the end, this method provides multiple selections of different parts of a subject, that with a few minor adjustments can be combined to produce one perfect selection. If you have spent too much time trying to find the best way to make a difficult selection in Photoshop, take a look at this method in the video above.

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2 Comments

Matthias Dengler's picture

Why not simply using the features that Photoshop has ever since?
Making a channel selection is way faster than those "automated" quick features in Photoshop..
Automated tools will always deliver worse results than classic manual methods.

Making complex selections is always far more time consuming than many think. Thus the legion of videos on how to make selections.
While showing some useful techniques, this video does not use a particularly challenging background.
Real life jobs require extractions from much more difficult non-studio files. That is when one learns the tools are plentiful but all have weaknesses.
Another aspect to remember is that final use is often in web or small print applications. Even POP will show the shortcomings of selection.
So while we obsess over perfect selection thanks to a 400% zoom, real life and the exigencies time and cost prevent the perfection so frequently hinted at.