Making great masks with the Select and Mask Tool in Photoshop

With the new Photoshop CC 2015.5 upgrade, Refine Edge is now called Select and Mask.  I thin this is a much more suitable name for the tool as “Refine Edge” may have been misleading to some.  The new Select and Mask feature looks almost identical to Refine Edge, but it gives you a much better viewing window when you are making selections.

I mentioned that Select and Mask is like Refine Edge, but the new feature adds more functionality.  Before PS CC 2015.5 when you made a selection you would click on the Refine Edge tool and use it to clean up the sloppy marching ants selection, and it worked well if you knew what you were doing.  Now, Select and Mask allows you to open the dialog first and make the selection from within the dialog with a variety of features, like a sweet new “Onion Skin” way of looking at your image.  In Onion Skin mode you can make the selection within the tool and watch you selection peel away from the background.

Select and Mask in Photoshop Onion Skin

In today’s tutorial, I will show you how to use the new Select and Mask feature to make incredible masks very quickly.  You will notice that I am using a rather easy subject to mask.  I am using this image for a few reasons:

  1.  I always shoot my subjects on a white, green or blue background.  It makes them easier to composite.  Sure, there is always the “Well that’s great but try using this on a tricky background with little teeny tiny hairs everywhere.” comment.  Let’s be realistic here!  The best subjects to pull from backgrounds are the ones you PLANNED for, not the impromptu “let me pick this girl and her wild hairs away from a background of forest trees” subject.
  2. Using a simple subject allows me to show you how the Select and Mask tool works more effectively.  I could spend 15 minutes on all the features of this tool, or I could spend 15 minutes cutting out a complicated subject and 5 minutes showing you the tool.  There are many courses out there for masking hair.  This tutorial is not the place for that.

Sweet, now that the explanation is out of the way, let’s look at the Select and Mask tool!  I bet you $5 dollars someone still complains that I used an easy subject 🙂


Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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