Top 3 Selections Techniques in Photoshop

Step 8

Now we need to select the channel which has more contrast between the tree and its background. I found that the blue channel has more contrast between the tree and its background. I am going to duplicate it as I don’t want to harm original channel. To duplicate the channel, right-click on it and choose ‘duplicate channel’.


Once you duplicated it you’ll have a channel named ‘Blue Copy’ as shown below.


Step 9

Now our task is to whiten those area which we don’t want like tree background and to darken those which we want like tree parts. In short increasing contrast between tree and its background. For this purpose, I am using Calculation techniques. While the blue copy channel selected go to Image > Calculations. You’ll have a dialog box appear as shown below :


It’s look complicated and we not going to get into here deeply for the sake of simplicity. Here we can done our task (increasing contrast) using blend modes. The above settings you are seeing Photoshop automatically select these but if not then you can manually select them like I did it.

So in the source 1: I selected the lake image (you can see lake-983924 is selected) which I am working on. Choose Background in Layer option and for Channel we already selected the Blue copy.

Leave everything same for source 2 like we did for source 1. Now change the Blending to Overlay and click OK. Feel free to experiment using blend modes but most of the situation Overlay and Multiply works best.

Once you have done this you’ll see a Alpha Channel right underneath the blue copy channel.


Step 10

Here are the results with increased contrast :


Here you can compare it before using Calculations.


Step 11

You can notice that there is still not enough contrast between the tree and its background. We need to increase it more until we make the background completely white. To do this, activate the Brush Tool (B). Use a soft round white brush to paint over the tree background as we don’t want it. If you are close to the edge of tree parts like the trunk, leaves, and branches, then you can change the brush mode to Overlay (on the options bar) to paint over the tree as well without worrying that you’ll make the tree white. Similarly, make the tree completely black and use overlay blend mode with black color when you are painting over the tree parts that are close to its background. You can also vary the brush size and opacity for better results.

Once you’ve done this properly, you’ll have the similar results as shown below :


You can also use Dodge & Burn Tool for this purpose or even you can use Level Adjustment layer to darken and brighten the parts.

Step 12

Now it’s time to get the results of our hard work and we are going to load the selection. Click on the load selection icon to load the selection.


Here is the selection of every single piece of details :


Step 13

Switch back to Layers tab and click the add layer mask icon to extract the tree.


Step 14

In the transparent background, it looks clean but in black background, you can notice the mistakes and there are still some parts visible of tree background as shown below.


To fix this, load the selection one more time but this time from layer mask of the tree. Hold down the CTRL/CMD key and click on the thumbnail of layer mask to load the selection. Now inverse the selection by pressing CTRL + I as we only want to hide the background. Then simply press ALT + BACKSPACE to mask all the unwanted details of tree background (make sure your foreground color is set to black).
Now we got very clean selection and the tree is ready to place on any background.


Remember you can even make the selection of tree with Color Range tool but after that you need to increase the contrast between the subject and background. That is why the Calculation and Channels techniques works best.


Thanks for following the tutorial and these are the techniques for making selections. I hope, now you can make any complex selections even you can make the hair selection as well. and feel free to let me know if you baffled at any step. Have a great day!


  1. Very nice read! You about covered them all, too!
    The only thing I would add is that you can change a setting for the Magic Wand tool to select all instances of the color you click on. If “Contiguous’ is checked, only the colors that are adjacent, or touching, the color you click on will be selected. Un-click ‘Contiguous’, and you can click on one spot of blue, for example, and all of that shade will get selected.
    I sure do thank you! I saved this post to help with the Calculations part the next time I extract!

    1. Thanks Su and for the new tips as well. I didn’t know about the contiguous option but you are aware of it. Thanks for letting me know.

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