"Select and Mask" in Photoshop

For removing a portion of one photograph, the Background, masking it, and merging it with a second photograph, for example a more dramatic sky.

For example, as shown here, replacing the sky in a landscape scene.

Or making a transparent background for a web page

The Selection Tools in Photoshop

Selection is one of Photoshops most powerful tools. Here’s a list of the "old" selection methods ranked in order of ease of use and accuracy.

The purpose of making a selection is to create layer masks

You can add a mask to a layer and use the mask to hide portions of the layer and reveal the layers below. Masking layers is a valuable compositing technique for combining multiple photos into a single image or for removing a person or object from a photo.

A Mask is:

The Selection Tools

Making a mask by Selection with Color (Obsolete)

  • Photoshop Menu: Selection By Color

    Selections using the sub-pixel accurate "Pen Tool" (Obsolete)

    Tool Panel
    The Pen Tool
    The Pen Tool

    The New Photoshop environment for “Select and Mask”

    Making a Selection and a Mask

    In the last year or two Photoshop has consolidated and simplified the process.

    Keyboard Short Cuts




    Decrease Brush Size [ [
    Increase Brush Size ] ]
    Decrease Brush Hardness { {

    Refine Edge Adjustable Properties




    Open the Refine Edge dialog box

    Control + Alt + R

    Command + Option + R

    Cycle (forward) through preview modes



    Cycle (backward) through preview modes

    Shift + F

    Shift + F

    Toggle between original image and selection preview



    Toggle between original selection and refined version



    Toggle radius preview on and off



    Toggle between Refine Radius and Erase Refinements tools

    Shift + E

    Shift + E

    Select and Mask (replacing the background)

    Step 1 --- Open as Layers in Photoshop

    In Lightroom Select (highlight) the images you want to composite and right click to get the contextual menu and Choose Edit In > Open as layers in Photoshop and In Photoshop Make sure the layers are in the right order and the top layer is selected (Light Gray Color). Make sure the background layer is "unlocked" (Click the key to unlock) Orderlayers

    Step 2 --- Select > Select and Mask

    Choose the Photoshop menu Select > Select and Mask
    The keyboard shortcut
    Mac : Option + Command + R
    PC : Alt + Control + R

    Step 3 - Setup

    Press the reset key, Move the Transparency slider to about 50%, and press the "O" key to set Onion Skin View


    Step 4 - Making the selection

    Use the Quick Selection Tool, Press the "W" key
    To make the selection Click and hold down the left mouse button, drag the brush near the edges of the area you want to select, it's okay if you are close and some of the edges are NOT selected.
    You can cycle through the view modes by pressing the "F" key SelectedAreas

    Step 5 -- Refining the Edges

    Press the "Y" key to show "On-Layers"
    Click the Invert Button to see the background
    Press the "R" key to select the refine edge brush
    Zoom in as you do this to "see" all the details
    Brush all areas where there is old background... This procedure is Processor CPU intensive, there WILL be a lag time between your brushing and seeing the results...
    Be patient! Take your time and brush all the edges that need refining!
    You will see some "ghosting" in this case it is contaminated colors! RefineBrush

    Step 6 - Decontaminating Colors

    Check the decontaminate colors box
    ALSO! in the "Output To:" Drop Down Menu Choose Output To: New Layer with Layer Mask
    Also! Check Remember settings if you think you will need to to do more editing!
    Click Okay when you are done! Decontaminated

    Step 7 -- The results


    Here are some online tutorials and videos for the "New" Selecting and Masking Technique