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One Easy Way to Make a Difficult Selection.

Last update:  12-31-1969

Submitted by Flora

A 'Step-by-Step' on how making a 'Difficult' Selection 'Easy' (Photoshop 7.0.1)

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Let me start off by saying that this selection method works best in images with high light/shadows or colour contrasts ... but it can be a very helpful start point for making selections in all kind of pictures.

Masking the sky in the picture I used for this tutorial seemed an apparently nightmarish task....Not anymore!!!

This is the result I got ....

.... and here are the steps I followed to get there:


  • Open the original image and duplicate the Background Layer. 

(Image 1)

  • Click on the 'Channels' Tab, pick the one with the highest contrast, (usually, either Red or Blue...here I used the Blue Channel)and, keeping the left mouse button pressed, drag it onto the 'Create new Channel' Tab to duplicate it. 

(Image 2)

  • Working on the duplicated Blue Channel, press Ctrl+L to open the Levels Dialog and play with the sliders until you have increased the contrast until it already looks like a mask!

(Image 3)

  • Press Ctrl+I to invert the mask.

(Image 4)

  • Use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to soften the edges of your Mask.

(Image 5)

  • Keeping the Ctrl Key pressed, click on the Blue Copy Channel ... the 'marching ants' will outline your selection!

(Image 6)

  • Go back to your Layers Palette, create a New empty Layer just under the BG Copy,  click on the 'Eye'at the left of your background Layer to remove it, Highlight the BG Copy and click on the 'Add Layer Mask' button at the bottom of the Layers Palette.

(Image 7)

  • Fill the empty Layer, previously created, with whatever colour or Gradient .... or paste in that position any Background replacement of your choice... Now, just sit back and enjoy the pleasure of having achieved such a good result in a fraction of the time it would have taken before....

(Image 8)


At this point, if you feel that, in the procedure, you have lost too many  'small details', don't worry, you can get them back....(well most of them anyway...)

Working on the Layer Mask,  press Ctrl+L to open the Levels Dialog and, following Doug Nelson's incredible Tip, (
here), just move the middle slider to refine your mask.

(Image 9)

After refining your mask, you might not be satisfied with the strong colour tinge, (from the original background), at the edges of your mask...

(Image 10)

There are many ways for correcting that... for this picture, I did the following:

  • Clicked on the 'Create a new Fill or Adjustment Layer' at the bottom of the Layers Palette and chose Hue/Saturation from the Menu.
  • I edited the 'Blues' because this was the 'leftover' tinge in this image.
  • With the 'Add to Sample' Colour Picker, I clicked on several bluish spots, trying to get a range that would cover most of them.
  • I adjusted Hue, Saturation and Lightness until everything was smoothly blended  with the new Background.

(Image 11)

...The power of Photoshop never ceases to amaze me ......

Ciao, ciao....Flora.