Recently Adobe released a new Photoshop update and in that update, you get an incredibly cool tool that will automatically make a selection of the main subject in your photo. It’s called Select Subject and it uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to find out what the main subject is in your photo – whether it’s a person, animal, food, or pretty much any object.

Where to Find it

First, let’s get straight to the point and find out how to use it. The fastest way is to simply go to Select > Subject. After it’s done processing, you’ll get a selection. You can also find this by switching to the Quick Selection or Magic Wand tool and in the options bar near the top, you’ll find the Select Subject button.

However, the best way to use Select Subject is with Photoshop’s Select and Mask that you find by going to Select > Select and Mask. Look in the options bar near the top and you’ll find the Select Subject button. Click on it and once it’s done processing, Photoshop will create a selection for you based on what it thinks is the subject. But as you can see, it’s not perfect so we’re going to tweak it a bit.

Select the Quick Selection tool from the toolbar and paint in the areas where you would like to add to the selection. To remove areas, simply hold the alt or option key and paint. 

For the hair, switch to the Refine Edge tool. Paint around the hair and it should improve the selection.

When you’re done, go to the Output settings and choose whether you’d like a selection or a layer mask. I’m going to select a layer mask. Click OK and now you have a cutout of the main subject.

How are the Results?

Now let’s see how well it performs. Here are some before and after samples of the Select Subject tool with no further adjustments. I find that it works best on photos with simple backgrounds and a subject that is in-focus with sharp edges. Obviously for photos that have no obvious subject, like landscape photos, it’s not going to work. But overall, I’d say treat it as something that saves you a bit of time. Eventhough it doesn’t always give you perfect results, I think it’s quite decent for what it’s trying to do and it’s also the best thing that’s available as of today.

Ideas for Using Select Subject

Select Subject is also useful for the times when you don’t need such a precise selection – times when a rough selection is good enough. For example, you can use the Select Subject tool to easily darken the background of this photo which give more focus to the main subject.

You can create a selective color effect by desaturating the background.

You can also use it to quickly remove your ex from your travel photos.


Posted by Denny Tang

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