How to Select Hair in Photoshop Elements 12

When you have a portrait photo and want to change the background or paste the person’s image into another photo, selecting a subject’s hair can be a challenge. When you shoot photos of people, especially portraits, try to have your subject stand in front of a simple background of white, a dull sky, or any light-colored background without shadows and highlights. This technique makes your job in Elements much easier.


Select the background.

Eventually you want the subject selected. However, if your background is a continuous, neutral tone, it’s much easier to first select the background. Use the Quick Selection tool and drag around the background. If you select too much, press the Alt/Option key and drag the cursor in the area you want to retain to remove part of the selection.

When you finish adjusting the selection, choose Select→Inverse. Now your subject is selected.


Refine the edge.

Choose Select→Refine Edge to open the Refine Edge dialog box.

In the View Mode area, click the View icon to open the drop-down menu. From here, you can choose from a number of options for viewing your selection. The On White option works best for most selections.

Move the radius slider to the right. In many cases, you’ll want the Radius slider to the far right.

Adjust sliders in the Adjust Edge area. Move a slider and view the results. Tweak the selection by moving the sliders to obtain the best result.

In the Output area, select the Decontaminate Colors check box and choose New Layer with Layer Mask from the Output To drop-down menu.

Click OK to create the selection and dismiss the Refine edge dialog box.


Paint the layer mask.

When you return to the image window, the Layers panel now has a new layer with a layer mask. Press the Alt/Option key and click the mask (black and white thumbnail in the Layer panel).

The selection is represented by white, and what remains unselected is the black area. If you see shades of gray, you’ll want to paint those areas white by using the Brush tool. If you want to eliminate some area from the selection, press the X key. The foreground color is changed to black. Paint black in the areas you want to remain unselected.


Add a background.

Press Alt/Option and click the photo thumbnail in the layer. The photo appears in the Layers panel.

At this point, you can copy the image and paste into another photo or you can change the background to a color or texture. To select the image, press the Control/Command key and click the mask. This action selects the photo. To copy the selection, choose Edit→Copy.

To add a background, open the Graphics panel and drag a background to your image.

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