Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.42.21 AMPhotoshop has a new update (CC2015.5) and it includes a remarkable new selection tool interface called the Select and Mask Taskspace. Selections and masks allow you to isolate your subject from the rest of a photo and are a fun way to create composites or make adjustments to only that portion of the picture. But, creating selections around things like hair and fur can be difficult. The new tools help make it a lot easier.

I plan to use this tool for removing a person from the background, which I frequently need to do for the Steve Jobs Portrait Project. I need a white background but often have to shoot whether the backdrop is white or not. There are many ways to get a white background, and these pictures depict three methods that I often use. Click to view larger images.

The tricky thing about making a selection mask on a portrait is the hair and this example has a lot of it. It’s beyond my skills (and patience) to select each strand of hair, but Photoshop does a pretty good job of it on the first picture. For the next example, I used Lightroom’s Adjustment Brush with the Auto Mask box checked and it did a pretty good job of not painting on the hair, too. For the last picture, I used ON1 Photo 9’s masking tool, and it did well, too. In this case, I preferred ON1’s results, but it’s much faster for me to use Photoshop. I like the new Select and Mask Taskspace in Photoshop, and I’m looking forward to learning how to use it better. With time, we’ll see if it’s the best tool for doing this kind of masking.

In this video, Julieanne Kost gives a detailed example of how to make a selection with the new tools and Taskspace.