April 20, 2010

Video: Selecting hair with Refine Edge in CS5

Adobe evangelist Terry White has created an excellent 5-minute demo that shows off how easily the rewritten Refine Edge command in Photoshop CS5 can select tricky subject like blowing hair:

Full-screen viewing makes it much easier to see the interface during the demo.

I know it’s easy to knock Photoshop (or any mature tool) by saying, “You guys always just go add new stuff & never fix/improve what’s already there.” In the case of Refine Edge & many other spots within CS5, however, you’ll see that instead of adding something new, we’ve gone back and significantly overhauled what already existed. I think you’ll like the results.

Posted by John Nack at 9:13 AM on April 20, 2010


  • Murrey Walker — 9:34 AM on April 20, 2010

    Slowly, but surely, John, you’re making me more of a believer since I placed my order last Monday. ;-)
    And I thought that Content Aware Fill, alone, would be worth the price of admission!

  • TM Surratt — 10:22 AM on April 20, 2010

    Unbelievably nice work on this masking tool. WOW!

  • John Street — 10:49 AM on April 20, 2010

    WOW! Now if you can make CS5 not crash before I save my documents, we’ll be all set. Can you evangelize that JN?

  • Joseph Sims — 10:52 AM on April 20, 2010

    Everything that I have spent years learning, making me an advanced Photoshop User, is slowly becoming a “one-click-and-we-do-it-for-you” feature.

  • Shalom Ormsby — 10:56 AM on April 20, 2010

    Brilliant! Can’t wait to start working with this. Looks like Photoshop finally tackled the challenge of making complex masking easier.
    If this works as well as it seems to work, third-party masking applications must be getting that sinking feeling right about now.
    Can’t wait to start using this…

  • Floggy Bottom — 11:04 AM on April 20, 2010

    “I know it’s easy to knock Photoshop..”
    Adobe make it easy when things like pasting hex into the Save for Web GIF matte field STILL DOESN’T WORK, nor does that tool’s eyedropper on the main canvas.
    [I don’t know whether it’ll make you feel better, but *no one* gets more PO’d about app shortcomings than I & others on the team do. We address as many things as we can each cycle, but after 20 years of development, the list of things that could be better is long. We need to mix small improvements in with big ones that really make a dent in workflow barriers. Much as I wish it were otherwise, we can’t do everything in a single cycle. –J.]

  • Bob Jones — 11:06 AM on April 20, 2010

    Any chance we could get a non-Flash video?
    I don’t have flash installed on my iPad.
    [Something tells me you’re not actually writing this from an iPad, as if you were you’d know that it works just fine (as it does on my iPhone). –J.]

  • Eric Goodwin — 11:14 AM on April 20, 2010

    Wow! The more I learn about PSCS5, the more I want it. Once again, tremendous job. It’s clear the PS team put some in some serious work.
    [Thanks, Eric. –J.]

  • melgross — 11:14 AM on April 20, 2010

    I’ll be getting CS5 as soon as it’s available.
    But since you brought it up John, while I’m not knocking PS particularly, are we now going to get an efficient open and save using more than one core, finally? Now that we have these beautiful hi speed SSD arrays, it would be nice to be able to take advantage of them with PS. Does PS also take advantage of all 16 threads in my dual cpu Mac Pro, or are we still stuck with the rather primitive implementation we’ve got?
    This is what a lot of us would like to see.
    [I hear you, Mel. Open/save changes weren’t in the cards for CS5, unfortunately. 64-bit does make some operations (e.g. opening large files) quite a bit faster, however. –J.]

  • Kaiser Soce — 11:16 AM on April 20, 2010

    Don’t worry, Bob! It’s a YouTube video, so it’ll work just fine on your iPad. Enjoy!

  • Justin Moreland — 11:22 AM on April 20, 2010

    You need to quit posting video like this. You are going to force me to hand over my money for an upgrade;-) Seriously though, Adobe has done a great job with this release.

  • Josh Ames — 11:29 AM on April 20, 2010

    @JosephSims, I guess that means that we have to keep learning more and more advanced techniques. More and more is possible.

  • Nathan Duran — 11:34 AM on April 20, 2010

    Definitely very good for the amount of time invested, but it still doesn’t look like a great mask to me.
    Can’t wait for all the Mini Bridge questions to turn up on the ACE exams, though.

  • Jim Monaco — 11:34 AM on April 20, 2010

    So, only problem I see with all these improvements is that I actually feel seriously demotivated to do any work. I mean, I can make cutouts just as nice as that in a couple of hours…but if I wait a couple weeks, it’ll take minutes… Ditto for content aware fill. It’s a pretty weird feeling to be thinking that all time I spend on something in these next few weeks will be way too much effort once CS5 is out.
    You guys are killing me–and I think I like it!! :D :D

  • Kevin — 11:58 AM on April 20, 2010

    Hey Jack….what’s with the CS5 upgrade pricing from CS3? Why is it $200 more than if I upgraded from CS4?
    [I don’t set pricing, so I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. I do know that I’ve heard complaints from people who stay current & are offended that others pay the same price to jump up by several versions. We can’t please everyone. –J.]

  • Kim Gammelgård — 12:01 PM on April 20, 2010

    Now if you could get the price down to US-level in Denmark, I would be all set, but paying 1600$ for Photoshop alone is simply too much.

  • Janne — 12:35 PM on April 20, 2010

    Wow! That’s great.
    And yes, from now on, when I see a CS5-related discussion, I’ll step in and mention that pricing in Europe is nearly double to US pricing, even for the download version.

  • Jake — 12:40 PM on April 20, 2010

    Man, and I just blew a bunch of money a month or so ago on the CS4 suite (academic discount, but still more money than I had). I won’t be able to afford CS5, but really want it after seeing some of these videos :-(. Ah well, ’tis life.
    [Depending on when you bough, you may qualify for a free upgrade to CS5. I’d consult the Post-Announce Upgrade Frequently Asked Questions document on Adobe.com, or simply call Customer Service (1-800-833-6687 in the US). –J.]

  • Nathan Bowers — 12:48 PM on April 20, 2010

    This feature and the content aware fill are nice, but what we really want is:
    1) a promise that CS5 has fixed CS4’s notorious instability.
    2) an promise that Adobe has fixed every last UI problem documented on adobegripes.tumblr.com
    [The latter isn’t going to happen in any single release. As for instability, I’m sorry that you’ve had problems with CS4. On the Mac side at least, Apple now invests far more resources in supporting Cocoa than Carbon, so moving Photoshop to the former may expose the app to fewer problems. I think we’ve seen the benefits in the crash reporter data collected during the prerelease program. –J.]

  • Glenn — 1:05 PM on April 20, 2010

    I’ve delayed my upgrading of photoshop for a couple of versions now, but it’s time to jump to CS5. What a time saver this will be!

  • Gordon Mei — 1:21 PM on April 20, 2010

    Does the smart radius feature have a tolerance setting in case the background isn’t single-color solid gray?
    [The engineers respond, “No, we don’t have a tolerance setting, but the smart radius is engineered in such a way that it should be able to handle natural backgrounds with varying colors, even some degree of textures. So to use it, the background doesn’t need to be solid gray. Of course, when the background is too complicated, the smart radius will introduce errors – that’s where the paint brush should be applied to improve the border selection.” –J.]

  • Sandman — 1:58 PM on April 20, 2010

    “Movie not loaded…”
    God I hate Flash. Why can’t you use real standards at least on this blog and leave flash for theflashblog? We who live in 2010 also want to see…
    [What a jerk I am for using YouTube. (I mean, who does that??) Interesting that your system can’t hack it. The video runs just fine on my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. (An HTML5 video tag referencing the same H.264 file would, by contrast, display correctly in ~10% of desktop browsers. Can’t believe I didn’t select that option (preferring, crazily enough, practicality over ideology)). –J.]

  • George Coghill — 2:14 PM on April 20, 2010

    Truly magical.

  • Simon Lord — 2:25 PM on April 20, 2010

    Looks good, and if anyone here happens to need a B2B solution to process hair/subjects from greenscreen backgrounds in crazy-large volumes (north of tens of thousands at a time) with 48hr turnaround time then please inquire at our site.

  • Klas Lundberg — 3:39 PM on April 20, 2010

    This is so fantastic, I love it! If I only had this before… :)

  • Scott Valentine — 3:54 PM on April 20, 2010

    Now THAT is an excellent suggestion! Can you tell me about your computing environment? You know… the one that lets you run software that’s not yet released?
    And if you are running beta software, what version do you have? I bet your version number is different than mine… If so, kindly post your actual email and I’m positive some kind soul from Adobe will update your copy.

  • Scott Valentine — 3:57 PM on April 20, 2010

    That’s why you should be an artist before you are PS user… there still is no “make art”, “make good”, or “make visually appealing” button. There are, however, many “make suck” buttons, typically listed in the default filters list.
    [Plastic Wrap 4 Eva! –J.]

  • Scott Valentine — 4:01 PM on April 20, 2010

    Good for you! Now it will be much easier to gloss over your out-of-place complaints.

  • Tim — 4:07 PM on April 20, 2010

    This looks pretty sweet. I’d love to use something like that.
    I also love that you’re making existing functionality better. Kudos for that.
    On the subject of fixing existing functionality: Any word on fixing (i.e., removing) product activation? I was so offended at the very idea that I haven’t bought an Adobe product since that was added. I’ve been burned by that enough at work for programs we’ve paid good money for (wasting time on the phone, or waiting for email, but at least it’s on my employer’s time), so I’ve never once felt this boycott was in err. Software is hard enough to use without artificial barriers.
    I’m sure you think it saves/makes you money in the long run, so I want to assure you that some of us are avoiding it for just this reason. The minute I can get Adobe CS without needing “activation”, I’ll whip out my credit card and buy a copy.

  • Scott Valentine — 4:08 PM on April 20, 2010

    Then I presume you also can’t see anything on YouTube, Vimeo, Hulu or any other common video site. Why do you hate Flash? Did it take your milk money? Or is it just too pervasive to be considered useful?

  • utm — 4:08 PM on April 20, 2010

    Amazing. Somehow I know that when I try to do this with my lo-rez, JPEG-artifacty and otherwise noisy images, it will probably take 10 rather than 5 minutes – but this looks like such a great command. ;) As a longtime Photoshop user, I never thought it was about the features or techniques, it’s really about what you do with the tools that makes compelling work. In fact, the more advanced I become, the less I worry about the features. Though I do look forward to the infinite enhance/zoom function from all those Hollywood movies…

  • anon — 5:16 PM on April 20, 2010

    I think he’s saying that the *current* version saves on crash, not that he has CS5.

  • haleonearth — 5:53 PM on April 20, 2010

    Hmmm. Well that’s certainly a hoot when your subject is photographed against a gray background. It will be interesting to see how some of these features perform outside of Pleasantville.
    [I take it you didn’t read the other comments (do a Cmd-F for “gray”). –J.]

  • nick — 8:03 PM on April 20, 2010

    Very cool. The guy has the most annoying voice though :-)

  • S — 9:15 PM on April 20, 2010

    Awesome, simply awesome.

  • Rich Gibson — 9:17 PM on April 20, 2010

    So darn cool. Love it. Retouching time is going to drop by half with all the stuff available in CS5.
    I’m curious though. How does Adobe balance what they consider for placement in an upgrade against the products the 3rd parties historically bring to the marketplace to extend PS functionality. Because I’ve never seen a release like this one that negated the need for a number of well known plugins. Some examples… Nik’s DFine & PictureCode’s Noise Ninja… arguably no longer needed! Masking tools such as onOne’s Mask Pro and VertusTech’s Fluid Mask (amazing product)… arguably redundant now. Now, I’m not saying ALL Plugins have been rendered ‘moot’, but clearly CS5 is a game changer. So again, how does Adobe handle those situations and decide to add functionality that hereto prior would have been the province of a plugin?
    [This is one of those questions that Photoshop, like all host environments (e.g. operating systems), has faced probably since the beginning. It’s never our intention to put anyone out of business. The plug-in developers know that we all hear the same requests and may well try to address them in similar ways. They need to play to their strengths, being more nimble & focused (e.g. on specific markets, workflows, etc.) than we can be with the host app. –J.]

  • Matthew Frederick — 12:16 AM on April 21, 2010

    I appreciate your looking out for the 3rd party developers, Rich, but as an end-user (there are many, many more of us than plug-in developers) I really appreciate having these features in the tool that I already pay a lot of money for.

  • utm — 4:15 AM on April 21, 2010

    I like Terry’s voice!

  • graphicartist2k5 — 12:34 PM on April 21, 2010

    that is a badass feature! it’s about time you guys did this! i really wish i could run cs5 on my computer, but it’s not new enough to be able to run it.

  • Sylvia — 9:22 PM on May 19, 2010

    Should have just left that one alone. You showed yourself to be a real dork. Are you saying that to use PS a person needs to be an artist?

  • katie — 9:22 AM on August 31, 2010

    Help! Why do I NOT see the Smart Radius tool when I open the Refine Edge pane? I’m using Windows on a PC – not a Mac.

  • Thomas Rostowski — 10:44 AM on October 01, 2010

    Great tool, but it desperately needs a way to save presets

  • dendog — 5:20 PM on November 30, 2010

    thank you thank you thank you!

  • Dan Price — 2:03 PM on January 13, 2011

    Awesome video tutorial! Very helpful and much easier than in previous photoshop versions. Thanks! D

  • Melissa — 6:18 PM on February 17, 2011

    Help! This video was very helpful in describing how to select hair from a background. However, when I click on the refine radius tool to paint over the edge, I get a circle with a line through it, not a brush, and it doesn’t work. What did I miss??

  • rick schwartz — 9:39 AM on July 13, 2012

    Photoshop CS5 the Refine Edge button disappeared; in fact the whole menu bar changed where this button was.
    Can you help?

  • Dorothy Lynn — 3:39 PM on October 08, 2012

    I hae the same question as Melissa does, I also get a circle with a line through it. I just used it a day ago and it was fine what did I do and what do I have to do to fix it. Help please I am doing a digital book from a trip I just took and that refine edge tool is a dream.

    thank you in advance for your help

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