The latest update to Photoshop CC (January, 2018) includes a brand new selection tool, the one-click Select Subject.
As the name implies, Select Subject allows you to create a selection outline around an object or person in a photo with a single click.
Select Subject works by utilizing the same artificial intelligence engine that powers Lightroom’s Facial Recognition feature.
So here’s how it works.
In the past, Photoshop saw an image as a collection of colored pixels. Nothing more. But now, with the help of Adobe’s artificial intelligence technology (dubbed Adobe Sensei), the software’s image analysis moves beyond pixels to interpret the parts of your photo. By employing AI technology, Photoshop attempts to distinguish between the subject of an image–a person or object–and the image background.
How to use Select Subject
Select Subject isn’t so much an additional tool as it is an update to the Quick Selection and Magic Wand tools. So that’s where you will access Select Subject.
To use Select Subject, first open the image that you want to work on.
Here’s the one we’ll be working on:
Now select either the Quick Selection Tool or the Magic Wand Tool (keyboard shortcut for either is w) from the Photoshop toolbar:
With either of these tools selected, you will see an new button labeled Subject Selectin the control panel located above the image area.
All you have to do from here is click on that button and Photoshop will do the rest! After churning for a few seconds as it analyzes the photo, a selection outline will appear around your image subject.
To make the selection a bit easier to see, I’ll turn on Select and Mask…
That is pretty darn impressive, especially given that it only took seconds and a single click.
Now there is a little cleaning up to do. The selection isn’t perfect. But these tweaks can easily be done using the tools available in Select and Mask. (See the videos below if you need help with this.)
I tested the tool on few other photos to see how it worked. Here are a few of my results, showing the selection outline just after the application of Select Subject with no additional tweaking:
As you can see, in some cases, the selection was nearly spot on. In others case, it needs some additional work.
The bottom line is that, as with other selection tools, the results vary depending on the complexity of the background and how visually distinct the subject is from other objects within the image. And, stray and flyaway hairs are always a problem.
But even with these limitations, the tool can save you tons of times. At the very least, it gives you a first pass that would have taken your sizably more time to get to on your own. And it gives you that first pass with literally one click.
For more information on using Subject Select and Select and Mask to create complex selections, check out the videos below.