Selecting wisps of hair, fur or fine twigs on trees manually is a painstaking chore, but CS5’s Refine Edge Panel has controls that can really make it much easier and quicker.
One of its most important controls is the Radius slider, which sets the parameter for edge detection.
While there’s an automatic Smart Radius option, this doesn’t always get things right, and it’s best to take control of it yourself.
The key is to use a large radius with fine objects such as hair and a smaller one with subjects that have a clearer edge.
The Decontaminate Colors control in the Output section is also very useful because it removes the last traces of any background colour around the edge of your selection.
You can use the Refine Edge controls after making any selection, whatever tool you use – simply choose it from the Menu bar, set the Radius and then paint along the edge of concern, making adjustments as necessary to ensure the right parts are selected.
Once you’ve finished making the selection, use the Output menu to determine what happens to it. For example, it can be made into a new layer, or a new layer with a Layer Mask.
Using the Quick Selection Tool
The Quick Selection tool is found next to the Magic Wand tool. It’s used like a paintbrush to sweep over the selection target.
If you stay on the edges of your subject, the tool learns what you’re trying to select, and starts to help you as you progress.
Make sure Auto Enhance is selected in the Options Bar because this produces more accurate edges.
If you make a mistake, hold down Alt and paint the area that needs to be removed from the selection, then use the Refifine Edge controls to get the selection just right.