Making selections has been a main stay of Photoshop users for some time and Adobe have added various features to help, Quick Selection, Quick Mask and Refine Edge to name but a few. In the 2015.5. update Adobe have collected and updated them to become even more powerful, lets take a look.

In this post I’ll be removing the model from this shot (), something just a few years ago would have taken hours, now takes just a couple of moments.

colorful portrait of a black woman with big afro hair

Select And Mask

Previously I may have headed to the Quick Selection Tool to start the selection process here, with the 2015.5 update however I’ll instead head into the Select and Mask work area.

To do this, select any of the selection tools:


When you do, the Select and mask button appears in the contextual menu at the top of the screen. Its position may vary depending on the tool you select. This replaces the Refine Edge button, but fear not it hasn’t gone anywhere.

The Work Area

You’ll notice that I haven’t selected anything at this point, but I could have done. Using any of the tools above, plus the Quick Mask will carry forward into here.


The tools on the left aren’t new although there are some refinements and updates that improve them.

  1. The Quick Selection Tool. This tool works just the same as selecting it from the Photoshop Toolbar, however swapping to another tool and back again is easy.
  2. The Refine Edge Brush. This has had a significant update and works incredibly well. Its use remains the same however, clicking and ‘painting’ around fine detail selects them from the background.
  3. The Brush Tool. Effectively this is the ‘Quick Mask tool’ and allows you to paint a selection onto the image. This works in different ways depending on how you’re viewing the selection, more about this in number 9.
  4. Lasso Tool. Again, working just the same as it is in Photoshop but switching from this to the Brush tool to the Quick Selection is a breeze.
  5. The Hand Tool. Allows for panning around a zoomed in image
  6. Zoom Tool for zooming in and out of the image.


7. Controls for the Quick Selection Tool (1), the Refine Edge Tool (2) and the Brush tool (3)

8. The Refine Edge dialogue box now sits conveniently in the new work area with expandable and contracting sections.


The New Way To View Selections

  1. How you see the selection is accessed here and is similar to how it was in the Refine Edge dialogue. There’s one change here that really makes using Select and Mast my new go to for selections;


Onion Skin allows you to see how your image is being selected by seeing through to underlying layers. Here for example you can see the layer of the man plus the boardwalk scene on a layer behind him:


The Workflow for the Example Image

Quick Selection Tool:


Refine Edge Tool around the strands of hair:


Decontaminate the color, to remove some of the blue in the hair:


and click ok:


Total time : 52 seconds!

Amazingly quick, 5 or 6 years ago I would have been sat with a 1 pixel brush following the hair, I would estimate this was probably a 1.5 hour job at the very least.

As always, a huge thanks to Eric for supplying this tutorial. Stay tuned for next week and in the meantime, check out more of his tutorials on his website, YouTube and you can find him on Facebook and Twitter should you wish to get in touch with him!