Another great Photoshop upgrade: Easier select and mask tool

New Adobe Photoshop select and mask tool makes masking a breeze

The latest Photoshop CC upgrade includes some really amazing updates, and the new select-and-mask function is one that photographers and graphic designers will find very useful.

Now, with the click of a button, masking is easier than ever.

Just watch this video to see how effective this Photoshop masking tool can be, even when working with complex areas like hair.


How it works

  1. The steps to using Photoshop’s new select and mask tool are very easy:
  2. Open the image, and duplicate the layer.
  3. Hide the original layer.
  4. Create a new layer with the desired background (or a solid background that allows the masking to be viewed).
  5. Select the layer to be masked.
  6. Choose any selection tool in the tool panel.
  7. Click “Select and Mask” in the upper tool bar.
  8. A new panel opens, with new tools on the upper left and a properties panel on the left.
  9. In the View Mode of the properties panel, choose “Onion Skin” (or press the “O” key).
  10. Select the Quick Select Tool (upper left, or type “W”).
  11. Paint in the portion of the image you’d like to mask based on the colors you paint over.

Photoshop CC will do a very good job, but it’s almost certain you’ll need to tweak the mask. No problem: Just choose the Refine Edge tool (second tool in the panel, or type “R”), and paint over the edges of the mask.

You can then choose different view modes (overlay is a good one because is shows what is not included in the mask in red), and then use the brush tool (type “B”) to pain any areas that need to be added into the mask.

When in onion skin mode, the transparency slider in the properties panel allows you to adjust how much of the new background layer shows: Zero percent shows the original image, while 100 percent shows the mask and the new background layer. Setting this at 50 percent allows you to really visualize what the mask looks like and what needs to be added or removed.

TIP: If you can’t get a particularly complex mask nailed down (again, think about flying hair), just open the output settings in the properties panel and check the box next to “Decontaminate colors.” You should see the halos around the mask disappear. Very cool

Again, watch the vid to see this new functionality in action — and if you haven’t seen the new content-aware cropping functionality, you just have to check that out.

Get on the Photographer’s Adobe CC plan

If you don’t already have Photoshop, you can purchase the photographer’s online subscription that includes Photoshop CC and Lightroom CC for just $9.99 per month. And those two programs offer everything you need to create amazing photography — and the online subscription means your software is automatically updated anytime new functionality is added. So subscribe today!

About Andy Crawford

Andy Crawford has been a photographer and writer for more than 20 years, with thousands of images and articles published in magazines and newspapers around the country. He now focuses on Louisiana photography, landscapes, HDR photography, urban prints and other fine art photography. He also is a portrait photographer.