Articles, Blog


November 9, 2019

Cut Out Hair in Photoshop CC Tutorial, Select
and Mask Hey, Colin here from PhotoshopCAFE and I’m
really excited about this next tutorial. This is looking at the selection and the masking
space, which is brand new inside of Photoshop CC 2015.5. So one of my favorite features, and I know
one of yours as well, is using the Selection Brush and Refine Edge, so all of that is now
being changed. It’s actually a lot better, it’s easier to make selections, and you can
get better selections and better edges on those selections. It’s great for things like
cutting out hair and difficult objects like that. So, anyway, check out this tutorial.
I know you’re going to love it. All right, here we have a woman that we’re
going to extract from the background. Now, this is not necessarily an easy image even
though it’s a solid color in the background. If you’ll look at the hair, we’ve got curly
hair, and we’ve got a lot of individual flyaway hairs. And I selected this image on purpose
for this reason because one of the things that we’ve always kind of struggled with is
getting good hair selections, you know, when we use the Quick Select and Refine Edge, it
cut things out really well, but it always left a little bit of a glow or a halo around
the edges of the hair and made it really hard to composite without doing a lot of work. So let’s have a look at how we can do it now
in the updated Selections and Masks inside of Photoshop CC 2015.5. So what we’re going
to do is grab the Quick Select Tool. Now, we could go ahead and we can make the selection
like we always do, and then, go up into Select and Mask instead of the Refine Edge. But let’s
have a look at Select and Mask first, because one of the new things in here is we have a
thing called the Onion Skin. And if you’d look under the Preview, here, the O key will
get you to Onion Skin. And what this does is enables us to show the full image or it
can show us what’s been extracted, obviously, nothing has been done yet, so there’s been
no selection. So what happens is you can set the transparency
level to where you want, grab the Quick Select right here, and as you begin to paint, and
as you paint, it will start to make the selections around these areas. Now, one of the things
I do, it does it pretty quick but notice how it’s kind of compute what’s going on here,
so it takes a couple of seconds. So one of the other things you could do is you could
start by using the Quick Selection, and then, just come in here at this point, but here
we go, I mean, we’re not going too bad. So this is a very high resolution image, which
is why it’s taking a little bit of time. So far, this looks pretty good, but let’s have
a look. If we pull the transparency down, we can see, yeah, we got our selection. It’s
not bad, but the edges of the hair are looking pretty rough and there’s little bits of the
background there in-between the individual hairs, so we want to clean that up. We also want to make sure that we haven’t
left any areas out there, so if we hit the K key, the K will actually bring us into the
black and white view here. And the black and white really shows the mask, so we can see
there’s no area left out in the middle. That’s good, but let’s also have a look at it against
black. Notice our background’s looking weird and that’s because of the Opacity. If we turn
that Opacity all the way up, we can see there’s a black background. So what we can do is we’re
going to go down to the next one, which is our Refine Brush, and now we’re just going
to paint inside these little areas in here where we can see these hairs or the background
is showing through the hairs. We just want to get rid of that. So I’m just quickly painting
over those areas, and what it’s doing is it’s letting Photoshop know, hey, these colors
don’t belong in here; these belong in the background, so it’s helping it make an extraction.
And even as I refine it here, you’ll notice it will change on the other side because it’s
using that intelligence for the entire mask. All right, so we’ve kind of done that. Let’s
hit the K key again and have a look at the mask, so you can see now that this mask is
looking a lot better, and we can even go in here and start to refine it. So what I’m going
to do now is I’m going to go back to the Onion Skin, so that’s the O key. You don’t have
to remember these keyboard shortcuts. You can just go under the View, and under the
View here, you can see the keyboard shortcuts right next to them. So I’m going to take this
transparency down a little bit because I want to see where some of those fly away hairs
are appearing, but not on the selection. So, now, I’m going to go over these flyaway hairs
and just kind of paint over them and include them in the selection. And as we do this,
Photoshop is going to grab those, see that? And start to add it to our selection. So I’m
going to go over here, there’s some there. Just make sure we get them all, and getting
closer, let’s go up here, and we just want to follow that whole outline, and just make
sure that we are indeed going over all the hairs, selecting them all. All right, so now let’s have a look. We can
bring this transparency back a little bit and see how well we’re doing. That’s looking
really good. Notice we’ve got most of the hair. There are a couple of things you could
play around with. If you wanted, you could go up to the Radius and, maybe, add one to
the Radius. And sometimes that will clean it up and just get a little bit more and it
actually looks quite good by doing that. That worked well. You can show the edge just by
clicking up here, like we did in the past, but we don’t really need to do that. And then,
the other thing that really works really well is the Decontaminate Colors. So if I go against
the blackólet me show you hereóso we select against the black and see how these colors
have got just, you know, there’s a little bit of weird color, but once we hit Decontaminate
Colors, look at that, cleans it up. It might look like those are not selected, but if we
put this against white, notice that those edges where those hairs are indeed selected.
And, of course, you know, we can always just go through and refine it a little bit more
if we want when we’re looking at that, and that will refine it even more. So there we
go, see how we’re picking up some of those loose hairs in there now. All right, that’s
looking pretty good. So what I want to do now is go to a new layer
with the Layer Mask and click OK, and there’s our extraction. Notice that the individual
hairs are in there, and let’s see how good this looks against another background. So
I’m just going to select this here and we’re just going to click and drag it into another
image, let’s release it, and we can see that we’re able to, you know, start to do some
compositing there, and that’s using the Select and Mask workspace. You can see how much better
we can get these selections, and how quickly, and easily we can do that right here. So,
as you can see, you know, one of the most important features in Photoshop has received
a major update and you got it right here. You can see how to use it now, so check out
PhotoshopCAFE for a ton more tutorials. If you enjoyed this tutorial, please become part
of the CAFE crew, hit that Subscribe button right now, become a subscriber, and I’ll get
new tutorials to you every single week. So, thanks for watching guys. Add a comment,
add a Like, and until next time, I’ll see you at the CAFE.


  • Reply Rod Shelley June 21, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    Oh, this is going to be epic. I've gone nuts in the past if I want to put a different sky in a scene with trees/foliage in the background. Selecting the sky effectively has been a challenge – if I want to change a bald featureless sky to a starry night sky, for instance. Getting rid of that glow around all the leaves and branches has been a real headache. This looks like it's going to be awesome. I can't wait to try it out!

  • Reply Alan Smith June 21, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    nice work… really explains the tool…

  • Reply Hani Latif Zaloum June 22, 2016 at 6:00 am

    Great video, Collin! Cheers mate 🙂

  • Reply ツ sweeps June 22, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Great Video thanks!

  • Reply PitBlackBelt June 22, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    SICK! This is going to help out so much.

  • Reply David Marotta June 22, 2016 at 7:43 pm

    Love your tutorials…..

  • Reply carey riddell June 23, 2016 at 3:55 am

    is anyone else finding this does not work as well as before?
    tried on a handful of images and the old version is doing a much better job

  • Reply Photographer ILYA KRIVENOK June 24, 2016 at 6:29 pm

    Photoshop CC 5015.5 update????? (description)

  • Reply Macaproductions June 25, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    everyone knows remove hair or hair clean background, but as hair extract a background of landscape or between people and colorful city.

  • Reply victor smith June 26, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    great video the best one i've seen thanks so much!!!!!

  • Reply pi314159 June 30, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    wow, that's magic!

  • Reply vinnu nani July 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxlent video sir

  • Reply Jennifer Atterton July 8, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Your tutorials for a beginner like myself are wonderful. They are clear, precise and easily followed so very user friendly. Thank you so much. Subscribed as I don't want to miss any more you offer.

  • Reply Linda Raymer July 10, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Very helpful! Thanks.

  • Reply Rick Shepard July 13, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I don't consider this to be an update. It's a degrade. I'm having the same frustrations as every professional I know. The results are unprofessional. The lag, which you tried to gloss-over is a new issue since I only work with high res images. The decontaminate colors is the worst. It leaves flat areas that look like mud. If you composite onto a busy background you can hide the flaws much better, but I need to composite on a clean BG and the flaws are glaring. I have returned to the previous version of PS CC 2015.

  • Reply zorro gamarnik July 14, 2016 at 2:43 am

    Thank you

  • Reply sandeep mailarapu July 18, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Very Nice video…

  • Reply py2ncg July 28, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Great Video thanks!

  • Reply red rojo July 29, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    this is great colin thanx. but I do see some potential problems with the decontaminate colors. I haven't upgraded to the 2015.5 version yet so I wanted to know if they have a legacy under preferences to click on a revert back to the old tool?

  • Reply Umer Zafar August 1, 2016 at 8:22 am

    very helpful tutorial Collin. You are one of my favourite instructor. Thanks.

  • Reply Terry Brown August 11, 2016 at 11:06 pm

    I was having trouble understanding the Select and Mask properly and this really helped me see my way through. Nicely done.

  • Reply sambochen2010 August 19, 2016 at 11:28 am

    ANother winning tutorial! Keep it up!

  • Reply mickspawn August 31, 2016 at 6:06 am

    why have you got an aussie accent that you are changing to some other weird accent? are you caught between america and australia?

  • Reply Jeffrey Rayfield August 31, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Thanks, well done!

  • Reply Fahad Alyafei September 3, 2016 at 10:59 am

    That was pretty good.. thanks a lot

  • Reply himash guruge September 13, 2016 at 8:00 am

    i love this

  • Reply Simon Carlton September 16, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Brilliant, easily the clearest the video I've seen on this topic, thank you!

  • Reply Priscilla Koelling September 17, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Colin, is that a Bamboo table next to your computer? Or what is it? Does it help making corrections on Photoshop easier or more detailed?

  • Reply Amber Ross September 21, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you SO much for this! I've always struggled with cutting out hair in PS and ending with a bit of helmet hair, especially on women. About to walk myself through this tutorial step by step, and I really appreciate your thorough explanation.

  • Reply Michele Dillon September 27, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Arrgh! This tutorial looks great. However, I have the most up-to-date cc (version 5.1) and when selecting Quick Select I do not have 'Select and Mask' (I only have Refine Mask on the menu bar) so can't seen to be able to complete this tutorial.

  • Reply Reyzl Shlafman October 1, 2016 at 12:05 am

    thank you so much!!

  • Reply Stalin Joseph October 1, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    well done sir… i really appreciate you… very perfect tutorial.. tnx…

  • Reply Debbie Foster October 7, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Simple, concise and easy-to-follow instructional video. I'm the true old dog learning new tricks.

  • Reply Pj Bongares October 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    very informative and detailed vid! thank you!

  • Reply ClippingStudio October 17, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Very helpful Tutorial. Thank you so much!!

  • Reply sidcup November 5, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Hey Colin ,Thank you you made is so easy ! , plz could you do more complex hair perhaps cat ?

  • Reply Alistair Barclay November 12, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Another easy extraction from a simple background, why does no one show a example with a outdoor complex background

  • Reply lars Plovmann November 22, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Hi colin, and first… thanks for all you great videos… nice… About cut hair… yes its okay WHEN you have a person with dark hair and on a light bagground, BUT if you have a blond girl on a normal ( nature ) bagground, it dont work proberly I think… Do you have any tip 🙂

    Kind regards
    Lars, Danmark

  • Reply Serge Magnavox November 24, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Does anyone know how to make the side features work? In my version the tools arent working

  • Reply Michael Echteld December 27, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Brilliant, thanks very much. Was just about to boo the new feature, but I agree–it's much better than the original refine edge feature. Very helpful indeed.

  • Reply Carol Varveris January 1, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    This just goes on and on – EVERY SINGLE TUTORIAL about hair selection is FOREVER AND ALWAYS on a solid color background. What about just once doing a short tutorial for hair selection on a busy background? The ONE AND ONLY person skilled enough (and cognizant) is Katrina Eismann

  • Reply Flower Base January 13, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    This doesn't work for me!!! It makes it slow and it loads and it ruins my photo! Also It still keeps showing the background. It doesn't do a great job, fuck. It Sucks. It's gives it a bad quality. Idk maybe it's just the image I took… I had use a white and black background to take a photo but it still doesn't work for select and mask. Can someone help please? Why does it work for everyone but not for me????? Does it have to have a good camera?? Well tbh I use iPhone 6 (don't mock) to take photos. It also gives it a bad quality selecting hair when I collect photos from google……..

  • Reply Fabish D. Okaka January 13, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    very cool tutorial, though am having problem in copping the image to the selected background image.

  • Reply Jim Williams January 14, 2017 at 5:17 am

    I am totally new to the world of photography. I wish I'd gotten into it many years ago. This video is encouraging in that it makes me look forward to one of the "fun" aspects of the art. Thank you.

  • Reply Rob Walker February 1, 2017 at 7:59 am

    refine edge is stiill there hold shift when you select the select and mask and refine edge opens

  • Reply Tina Giles February 13, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you for the tutorial! you made it sound very easy but you are using a model in plain background. My problem is that I am fotographing doggies, especially Samoyeds which are snow white, hairy and against a dark background, i.e grass or bushes they come out with halos…. It was better when the define edge was with earlier PS, but now I find it a hard task (user of CC2015.5).
    Any suggestions much appreciated!
    So far I do like and enjoy your tutorials very much, mainly for their simplicity! 🙂

  • Reply VietKiemTruGian March 23, 2017 at 4:35 am

    ===Another easy extraction from a simple background,== Haha, exactly what i am going to say !

  • Reply KamiM March 23, 2017 at 9:58 pm


  • Reply Steven Waggener April 4, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Excellent and straight forward instruction without an excess of "Adobe-ese." I've watched a few of the masking tutorial videos and this one provides the greatest instruction by far – thanks and nice work!

  • Reply j mcbade April 24, 2017 at 3:44 am

    In a word: Excellent.

  • Reply Zeyna Amazonlu May 2, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    thanx once agaın..tıps n all.yr tuts have grown on me 🙂

  • Reply Ross Peebles June 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    All the how to cut out in PS videos are made to look easy because of the contrasting background. I would like to see one where the background in similar in color to the hair and show me how much better they are than I am.

  • Reply Michael Cain July 17, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Great stuff.

  • Reply Hanna Rydström August 2, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    I am getting a result where the parts that I have worked on with the Refine Edge Brush Tool is noisier/grainier than the original image. Is anyone else experiencing this annoying problem? Or am I doing something wrong? Do you have a solution for it?

  • Reply sonja s August 3, 2017 at 4:58 am

    Another excellent presentation by PhotoshopCAFE- this set of tuts on layers, masks and blend modes is clarifying a whole host of questions and problems here….Thanks!

  • Reply Pete Miller August 5, 2017 at 11:52 am

    Great tutorial but just does not work on medium grey backgrounds. It will all of a sudden pop to the entire picture. Any ideas?

  • Reply Beatmantra Music August 8, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    can someone actually cut someone out on a full background complex thats not a solid color.. none of these videos on here help me.

  • Reply Nice Try M9 August 23, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Can you please, do hait cut form a non-solid complex background ??

  • Reply Nice Try M9 August 23, 2017 at 10:46 am

    your example is easy with a high resolution picture with a solid background.

  • Reply Mohab Ghanem August 28, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Excellent thanks

  • Reply Jeanetta DeFreitas September 28, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Great tutorials. Very good instructions for following,

  • Reply Tigere C November 1, 2017 at 1:26 am

    Colin! Man, you're there reason I started learning Photoshop waaaaay back when. I remember you had cereal box design competition that I entered. Long time ago. Good to see you're still at it.

  • Reply Marcelo Perez May 9, 2018 at 4:02 pm


  • Reply Mountain Rat May 15, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Easy extraction.. not very helpful

  • Reply Donny Helvey May 20, 2018 at 3:38 pm


  • Reply Reid Lucier June 6, 2018 at 9:33 pm

    How did you get that almost cartoonish look on the girl? Is there a video tutorial on how you post processed that style?
    Also, the Refine edge brush almost never gives me good results. It usually makes it worse. Yet, everytime I watch a video tutorial..they make it look so simple.

  • Reply Entertainment JR October 8, 2018 at 10:54 am


  • Reply photoshopCAFE July 17, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Check out Colin's new Course: Photoshop CC Selection Secrets:

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