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16th April 2010
Photoshop CS5 preview part 2
by Ian Burley
7028: Photoshop CS5 preview part 2

It's much easier to create selections along boundaries with complex edges using Photoshop CS5

Welcome to the second in our series of articles previewing Photoshop CS5. In this instalment we examine enhancements to the edge refinement tools for making selections. What I'm going to demonstrate is that it's now really easy to separate backgrounds from objects with complex edges than ever before. The Quick Selection tool that many of us are now very familiar with was a big step forward when it arrived with Photoshop CS3. However it isn't perfect when it comes to complex edges where there is a lot of fine detail, like strands of hair, for example:


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

Above is a photo that, although blurred, has a distracting background. In this exercise I'm simply going to separate the person from the background and and remove the background to leave it white. But you could just as easily substitute a new background or copy and paste the main subject into a new background image.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

First of all I'm using the usual Quick Selection tool to make a basic selection of our subject.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

A closer view shows a typical Quick Selection first pass result. The finest details along the selection edge are not really selected at all.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

I've now opened the Refine Edge dialogue box and instantly you can see that it has been completely redesigned since CS4. View Mode at the top is a re-working of the icon buttons in the CS4 version, and there is a new Edge Detection function, plus a new Output selector. For our purposes here, it's primarily the Edge Detection that we're interested in, and I have set this to one pixel with Smart Radius on, with the area selected shown in white against the unselected area of the image.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

You can see that the edge has not been fully selected as there are grey areas along the selection boundary. This is where all the complex fine detail is and we need to include it all in the selection. To do this one simply paints over the unselected areas and you don't need to be particularly precise. When you release the mouse button or pen (if using a graphics tablet) Photoshop goes to work analysing the areas that you have painted, which are initially white. But in a series of stages you can watch the white areas fade until, with a bit of luck, only the fine details that you want to add to your selection remain white. You can do this over and over again and there is no fear of unselecting successfully targeted details.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

In our example above you can see that the grey boundaries we started with have all gone, leaving the complex details in the hair nicely selected.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

I've confirmed the refined selection and returned to edit mode and now I'm ready to delete the background.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

And there it is, a very refined selection around the hear has been successfully made and it took only a minute or two. Some tidying up on the lower right, where some grey has remained, might be called for, but that's a small price to pay for the speed and refinement of the result.


(Click image above to open a larger view in a new window)

And there's the background-eliminated result I was aiming for. I'm sure I will be using the new enhanced Refine Edge selection tool a lot more than the previous version.

Look out for our next Photoshop CS5 preview article soon!

Don't forget Part 1 either.

 

 

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