How to Use REFINE EDGE in Adobe Photoshop! Improve Your Selections

[MUSIC PLAYING] -Hey everyone. Howard Pinsky here
with another Photoshop tutorial from your questions. Today we’re going to be taking
a look at a feature that can take your selections
to the next level, and that is Refine Edge. If you’ve ever done
work with subjects that contain hair or fur,
you know what kind of a chore it can be to extract them
from their background. Refine Edge allows you to single
out individual strands of hair or fur, resulting in a
much better extraction. Let me show you how this works. So here I am an
Adobe Photoshop where we’re going to take a look
at two examples on how Refine Edge can help you
tremendously in your projects. In this first photo
here which are grabbed from,
you can clearly see that this lady has a lot
of hair going on in this photo. There’s hair everywhere. And using the traditional
selection methods in Photoshop, you’re going to get a
pretty ugly extraction. So the first thing
that we need to do is make our initial selection. Now in this case, because
the background is pretty much a solid color,
I’m actually going to start by selecting
the background itself. And of course, just like
most things in Photoshop, there are many
ways of doing this. But for this example, I’m going
to be using color range, which can be found under
the Select menu. Now the way color
range works– and I’ve covered this in the
past– it allows you to select individual
colors in your photo and turn them into a selection. You’re going to
notice as I select the blue at the
top right corner, a little bit has become a
selection in our preview. Now if I hold down my Shift
key, I can add to that selection just like this. I can actually drag my mouse
over top all of the blues and those will be
added to my selection. And then if I move my window
over to the right a little bit, I can grab the blues in this
area that were not selected. Basically, what I’m looking
for is white and black. White will become my selection
and black will be left alone. So I’m going to
finish off by grabbing a little bit of the blue at
the bottom right hand corner, and I’m now left with a pretty
nice black and white result. But of course, for
this example, as we want the model selected
and not the background, I’m going to check invert right
over here at the bottom right and then press OK, which
is going to give me my selection of just the model. Now like I mentioned previously,
using a traditional selection method like this will give
you pretty ugly extractions. If I simply go and
apply a layer mask, you’re going to notice that
the edges of the models hair look terrible. So let me undo, Command or
Control Z. And this time, instead of applying a layer
mask or simply deleting the background, we want to use
the Refine Edge feature, which can be found under the
Select menu as well. Now before we get
into the good stuff, there are a few ways you can
view how your preview looks. You can choose from marching
ants, overlay, on black, on white, black and white,
on layers, or reveal layer. And you can also cycle
through your views by pressing the F key or
disable them temporarily by pressing X. Now,
if we go to on black, you can really see how
traditional selection methods are terrible at
selecting hair or fur. But luckily, Refine Edge
is here to save the day. Now, right down below
under your View Options you have edge detection. And this is where
the magic happens. You’re going to want to start by
turning on Smart Radius, which at first isn’t going
to do anything. But as you start
increasing the radius, Photoshop is going to
start refining the area around your subject that
contains hair or fur. And depending on the size of the
photo or how much hair or fur the model contains, you may
want to increase the radius even more to get more refinement. Now at this point, if I pressed
the P key on my keyboard to see the original, the
refinement has certainly helped, but there’s still a
lot of blue in the background that we need to deal with. Once you get to
this point, there are a few things you can
do to resolve this issue. The first thing is the
Refine Radius tool, which can be found to the left
hand side of your Refine Edge window. And this helps by expanding
the detection area outside of your subject. And it works just like a brush. So you can use your right
and left square bracket keys on your keyboard to make
the brush bigger or smaller. And then in most cases
all you have to do is simply brush right around
the outline of your model, just like I’m doing right here. So I’m going to go right along
the outline of the model, all the way around. And this will tell
Photoshop to really expand the area outside of the
subject, just like this. And when I let go,
you’re going to notice we now have a much
more refined selection. And that definitely
helped a lot, but we still have a little bit
of blue around the subject. So the next feature you can
use is Decontaminate Colors at the bottom of the
Refine Edge window. And what this will
do, this will tell Photoshop to look
for those colors that might be spilling in from the
background onto the subject. And in this case, the
main colour was blue. So when you turn
Decontaminate Colors on, it’s going to work to get
rid of those colors that were spilling over. And you can increase the
amount if there’s still a little bit of color left over. Now once again, taking
a look at the original by pressing P on the
keyboard and taking a look at what we have now,
there’s a huge improvement. And even though we have a little
bit of ghosting left over, there’s a good
chance that once you add an image behind
your subject, you won’t see that at all. But if you do want to
refine it even more, we have the option
to adjust the edge. You can choose to smooth
out any jagged edges that might be visible. You can choose to feather
the selection, which will soften it out a little bit. You can increase the
contrast, which will usually sharpen up the
edges a little bit. And you can shift
the edge in or out, which sometimes helps a lot. So in this case, if
you take a look right beside the book
on the right side, there’s a little bit
of blue left over. And of course we
have a little bit of blue left over to
the right of the hair. This is a case where
I’d want to shift the edge to the left, which
will pull inwards a little bit. And you’ll notice when I
start to shift the edge, we now have an
even better result. The blue on the right
side of the book is gone, and a lot of the
ghosting that was apparent on the right side of
the hair is now gone as well. And like I mentioned, the
area to the right of the hair, that little bit of
ghosting, there’s a good chance that
won’t be seen when you add another image
in the background. So now that a refinement
is just about complete, we need to choose how
we want to output it. If you did not choose
Decontaminate Colors, you can choose to output it as a
selection or just a layer mask. But because that
was checked on, we can choose to output
as a new layer, a new layer with a layer
mask, a new document, or a new document
with a layer mask. For me, I always
choose to output it as a new layer
with a layer mask. That will allow you to
make further refinements later on if you need to. And when you press
OK, you’re going to be left with an extraction
that contains a layer mask as well, as you can see
in the layers panel. Now just to show you
how well this extracted, I’m going to grab the
other photo right here. I’m going to drag it
onto this document. And I’m going to simply
enlarge it just like this and place it right
behind the model. And you can now really see that
the individual strands of hair look fantastic in
our extraction. Ending up with a
result like this using the traditional selection
method without Refine Edge is nearly impossible. Now the nice thing
about Refine Edge is that you can use it on
pretty much any selection. It doesn’t only have to be
on a solid color background. So in this photo here, which
doesn’t have a solid color background, I can
do the same thing and use Refine Edge to
grab a nice selection of this dog and its fur. So for this example, I’m going
to grab my Quick Selection tool, which can be
found on the Tools bar in the left, which
I actually just did a video on last Thursday. So check out my YouTube channel if you want to know the
difference between the Magic Wand tool and the
Quick Selection tool. And once that’s
been selected, I’m going to simply brush
over top of this dog to turn it into a selection. Now you’re going to notice that
some areas outside of the dog have also been selected as well. And in that case, I can simply
hold down my Alt or Option key– Option on the
Mac, Alt on Windows– to subtract from the selection. And over here, I can just
grab this area over here. And I’m not looking for
a perfect selection, but I do want to select as
much of the hair as possible. So I’m going to decrease
the brush size a little bit, brush over top of this hair
here, the hair over here. And you’ll notice that Photoshop
just selected all of this area as well. Hold down Alt or Option and
subtract, just like that. And finally I’m going to
subtract from this section right over here and add
this little strand of hair on the right. So, now we have our
very basic selection, like I mentioned before, if
you were to simply add a layer mask, you get a very ugly,
cutout type of extraction. So let me undo that,
Command or Control Z. And once again we’re going
to hop into Refine Edge. Now, because I have a
selection method active, I can simply hit Refine
Edge on the Options bar. Or, again, I can find it
under the Select menu. And just like we did before, I’m
going to turn on Smart Radius and then increase the radius
value until my selection starts looking really nice. Right about there. We can start to see the
individual strands of hair. And if I switch over to
the black and white view, you can really see
how much Photoshop has refined this selection. I’m going to hop back
over to the On Black view. And then with my
Refine Radius tool, I’m going to start to brush
around the outline of this dog to expand the selection,
which will give me a much nicer result. So I’m going to brush up
the left side of the dog just like this, around the fur. And once I let go
of my mouse, you’re going to notice we have a near
perfect selection of this dog, which contains fur,
which, like I mentioned, with a traditional
selection method would be nearly impossible. In this case, I’m
not going to need to turn on Decontaminate Colors. So I’m going output it as a
new layer with a layer mask. Press OK. And there is my final result. So if I go back here, if I
grab this photo once again, drag this over here
to this document, I’m going to enlarge it,
place it behind the dog, and there is the final result. And once again you have a layer
mask available to you in case you need any
further refinements. As a quick example, you may
notice at the bottom right hand corner where the
collar is, there’s a little bit of transparency. So I can press B on my
keyboard to grab a brush, make sure that the color is set
to white, and then simply brush over top of this
area to bring back the original pixels,
just like that. And we’re now left with
two fantastic extractions of a dog that contained
fur and a woman that contained crazy hair. And that is Refine
Edge in Photoshop, a tool that is not
only going to save you a ton of time and hassle,
but more importantly, you’re going to be left with
fantastic looking extractions. Thanks for watching guys. And as always, make sure
to subscribe to my YouTube channels, be kept up
to date on new videos, follow me on Facebook,
Twitter, Google+, and stay tuned for a new tip on
Thursday and another Photoshop tutorial next Monday. Take care.

100 Replies to “How to Use REFINE EDGE in Adobe Photoshop! Improve Your Selections

  1. Howard, another fabulous tutorial.

    Your lessons are well thought out, delivered flawlessly, easy to understand, all the while never insulting to the intelligence.

    And you always throw in that little something extra — that tiny thing that we'd all run into, and show us hot to address it. It might be resizing this or that, or, as in this video, that tiny little transparent area of the doggie pic.

    Quality. I admire you, sir.

  2. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial…For me the refine edge seems to be working in reverse i.e hen i increase the radius PS lightens my already selected hair. WOuld you have any tips for that…

  3. hey my dear @Howard Pinsky  great work thank you.. i am subscribing you. thank you for such great tutorial.. thank you thank you and thank you very much.. now i will be always seeking for your next tutorials.. :/

  4. I got lost when you swapped out backgrounds: you just did it but didn't really give details as to how. But I'll search for a tutorial ( from your channel) as to more detail on that topic. Thanks again .

  5. I wish just one of these refine edge tutorials didn't use incredibly easy, high def photos. Doing this photo doesn't even necessitate a tutorial.

  6. Signed in purely so I could comment on this video and say thankyou. Really nicely explained; quick but thorough. Superb, well done sir.

  7. I tried it with the dog. I didn't have recourse to his image of course but I did a screen shot and used all the same setting. he did. Mine looked like crap. I agree with MrTurbine 777. All these refine edge photos use optimum photo to begin with yeeesh! 

  8. Anyone know how to do this when i have a guy with a white t-shirt on a white background and im having trouble selecting it without the t-shirt

  9. You know i watched 100 tutorials and this was the only one that helped!!! me this will save me hours on projects! I used to hate starting new projects because of all the time it took me to masque, I'm like there got to be a better way! Now, I cant wait to cut out all my favorite photos… Oh!!! and I love your PS and AI pillows did you make them? also quick question… what camera did you use to shoot your video its really crisp and clear I absolutely admire your work keep it up <3

  10. I found this tutorial searching Google for masking tips and I have to say this is the BEST tutorial on this I have seen! He is easy to follow, very thorough on the steps and explanation. I learned a lot in a short amount of time, thanks!

  11. You are the "absolute best instructor" I've encountered online! Every sentence is packed with substance, no filler talk, no indecision… You know exactly what you want to express, and do it so well.  And this coming from someone who's been using photoshop over 30 years. Thanks a bunch!

  12. THANKS FOR THE TUTORIAL!! Needed this info so badly – I usually just take my time with the Magnet Selection tool haha! This is so much easier.

  13. how can this work if the picture itself has white on it and the background is white? Like someone is wearing a white shirt and the background is white?

  14. tried it. Removed someone's teeth… and selected multiple similar to white areas (creamish or silver) Why does this happen?

  15. My refine edge button is gray so it's not clickable. How come you don't cover that? I don't know how to fix that

  16. Really didn't work for me. No matter how patiently I tried. But then I was trying to extract a squirrel with a bushy tail on a multi coloured background and not the simple fly away hair of a model on a one colour background.

  17. I try this with a model on a white background and did'n work that well. Do you have another way select models on a white background.

    Thanks in advance

  18. thankyou! I've watched many tutorials but none of them is more clear and as effective as this vid! other tutorials are so long and we must do things as fast as possible in design! thanks

  19. when i click select and mask, it says could not apply select and mask workspace becasue file could not be found. something is wrong but I dont know what.

  20. hey, i'm using adobe photoshop cs3 and in this version i don't see smart radius option.How to select an object with fur like dog in this tutorial…plz help me out

  21. Thanx your way is clear, organized, simple and easy to follow and most. Important you don't go to unwanted details just to the point of the video

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