Learn how to use the dedicated Select And Mask workspace in Photoshop CC.

Creating accurate selections and masks in Photoshop is now quicker and easier than ever before. A dedicated new workspace helps you make precise selections and masks. Use tools like the Refine Edge Brush to cleanly separate foreground and background elements and do much more.

Note:

The Select and Mask workspace replaces the Refine Edge dialog in earlier versions of Photoshop, offering the same functionality in a streamlined way. See Tools.

Launch the Select And Mask workspace

Open an image in Photoshop and do one of the following:
  • Choose Select > Select And Mask.
  • Press Ctrl+Alt+R (Windows) or Cmd+Option+R (Mac).
  • Enable a selection tool, such as Quick Selection, Magic Wand, or Lasso. Now, click Select And Mask in the Options bar.
Options bar | Select And Mask button

  • In the Properties panel for a Layer Mask, click Select And Mask.

Note:

You can set the default tool behavior, such that double-clicking a layer mask opens the Select And Mask workspace. Simply double-click a layer mask for the first time and set the behavior. Alternatively, select Preferences > Tools > Double Click Layer Mask Launches Select And Mask Workspace.

Community video: Use the Select And Mask workspace

Adobe's Julienne Kost explains how the Select And Mask in Photoshop CC makes creating selections and masks easier, exact, and efficient...
Julienne Kost

User interface

User interface: Select and Mask workspace

A. Tool options B. Tools C. Adjustable properties 

Tools at a glance

The Select And Mask workspace features a combination of familiar and new tools:

Quick Selection Tool

Make quick selections based on color and texture similarity when you click or click-drag the area you want to select. The mark you make doesn’t need to be precise, because the Quick Selection tool automatically and intuitively creates a border.

The Quick Selection tool works just like the corresponding tool in classic Photoshop. See Make quick selections.

Refine Edge Brush Tool

Precisely adjust the border area in which edge refinement occurs. For example, brush over soft areas such as hair or fur to add fine details to the selection. To change the brush size, press the bracket keys.

Brush Tool

Begin with making a rough selection using the Quick Selection tool (or another selection tool) and then refine it using the Refine Edge Brush tool. Now, use the Brush tool to finalize or clean up details.

Use the Brush tool to fine-tune selections in two simple ways: paint over the area you want to select in the Add mode, or paint over areas you don’t want to select in the Subtract mode.

The Brush tool in the Select And Mask workspace works much like the corresponding tool in classic Photoshop.

Lasso Tool

Draw freehand selection borders. Using this tool, you can make precise selections.

The Lasso tool in the Select And Mask workspace works just like the corresponding tool in classic Photoshop. See Select with the Lasso tool.

Polygonal Lasso Tool

Draw straight-edged segments of a selection border. Using this tool, you can make straight or freehand selections. The Lasso tool in the Select and Mask workspace works just like the corresponding tool in classic Photoshop. See Select with the Polygonal Lasso tool.

You can select this tool from the options when you right-click Lasso Tool.

Hand Tool

Navigate around an image document quickly. Select this tool and drag around the image canvas. You can also switch to the Hand tool quickly by pressing H while using any other tool.. This photo works just like the Hand tool in classic Photoshop

Zoom Tool

Magnify and navigate around the photo; works just like the Zoom tool in classic Photoshop and in many other apps.

Options bar

Add or Subtract: Add or subtract from the refinement area. Adjust the brush size if necessary.

Options bar


Sample All Layers: Creates a selection based on all layers instead of just the currently selected layer

Refine the selection

You can refine your selection in the Properties panel of the Select And Mask workspace. Adjust the following settings:

View Mode settings

View Mode. From the View pop-up menu, choose one of the following view modes for your selection:

  • Onion Skin (O): Visualizes the selection as an animation-style onion skin scheme
  • Marching Ants (M): Visualizes the selection borders as marching ants
  • Overlay (V): Visualizes the selection as a transparent color overlay. Unselected areas are displayed in that color. The default color is red. 
  • On Black (A): Places the selection over a black background
  • On White (T): Places the selection over a white background
  • Black & White (K): Visualizes the selection as a black and white mask
  • On Layers (Y): Surrounds the selection with areas of transparency

Press F to cycle through the modes and X to temporarily disable all modes.

Show Edge: Shows the area of refinement.

Show Original: Shows the original selection.

High Quality Preview: Renders an accurate preview of the changes. This option may affect performance. When this option is selected, while working on the image, hold down the left mouse button (mouse down) to view a higher-resolution preview. When this option is deselected, a lower-resolution preview is displayed even on mouse down.

Transparency/Opacity: Sets transparency/opacity for the View Mode. This setting applies beyond the Select And Mask workspace to the Overlay view mode in classic Photoshop.

Edge Detection settings

Radius. Determines the size of the selection border in which edge refinement occurs. Use a small radius for sharp edges, and a large one for softer edges.

Smart Radius. Allows for a variable width refinement area around the edge of your selection. Among other use cases, this option is helpful if your selection is a portrait that includes both hair and shoulders. In such portraits, the hair might require a larger refinement area than the shoulders, where the edge is more consistent.

Global Refinement settings

Smooth. Reduces irregular areas (“hills and valleys”) in the selection border to create a smoother outline

Feather. Blurs the transition between the selection and the surrounding pixels

Contrast. When increased, soft-edged transitions along the selection border become more abrupt. Typically, the Smart Radius option and refinement tools are more effective.

Shift Edge. Moves soft-edged borders inward with negative values or outward with positive ones. Shifting these borders inward can help remove unwanted background colors from selection edges.

Output Settings

Decontaminate Colors. Replaces color fringes with the color of fully selected pixels nearby. The strength of color replacement is proportionate to the softness of selection edges.

Important: Because this option changes pixel color, it requires output to a new layer or document. Retain the original layer so you can revert to it if needed.

Output To. Determines whether the refined selection becomes a selection or mask on the current layer, or produces a new layer or document.

Note:

  • Click (Reset The Workspace) to revert the settings to the original state in which you entered the Select And Mask workspace. This option also reverts to the original selections/masks applied to the image when you entered the Select And Mask workspace.
  • Select Remember Settings to save the settings for use with future images. The settings are applied afresh to all future images, including the current image if it is reopened in the Select And Mask workspace.

Community video: Mask hair using Select And Mask

Scott Kelby shows you how to use the Select And Mask workspace to mask hair...
Scott Kelby

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