Photoshop tutorial: How best to use Photoshop CC 2014's new Focus Area selection tool

Tigz Rice looks at how you can use the Focus Area in Photoshop CC 2014 to make automatic selections based on whether pixels are in our out of focus.

Intro


The new Focus Area tool in Photoshop CC 2014 is a handy tool, particularly for photographers, that allows you to make automatic selections based on whether pixels are in or out of focus.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

In this tutorial, photographer Tigz Rice looks at how you can use this tool to make selections, as well as how you can apply these selections with a tone curve to add a little more ambient light to a photo.

Time to complete

5 minutes

Software needed

Photoshop CC 2014

Step 1

STEP 1

Open your chosen image in Photoshop CC 2014 and take a couple of minutes to correct any exposure or white balance issues to the overall image.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 2

STEP 2

Go to Select > Focus Area… which will bring up the new Focus Area dialog box. Photoshop will automatically analyse your image and suggest an In-Focus Range.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Tip: You can also choose a view mode to help you see the selection better. Each of them has their own benefits, although for this type of selection work you may find Overlay to be the most handy.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 3

STEP 3

To add to the selection area, you can slide the In-Focus Range slider to the right to increase the range taken into consideration.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Alternatively, with the Focus Area Add Tool selected, brush over areas of your image you want to add to your selection.

You can also use the Focus Area Subtract Tool to remove any unwanted areas from your selection.


Step 4

STEP 4

While the Add and Subtract Tools are great for hard edges, you may have some softer edges that need attention. For a better result, click on the Refine Edge button and use this process as you normally would.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Tip: Once you’ve entered the Refine Edge Window, you can’t go back to the Focus Mask dialogue box, so make sure you’ve selected everything you want to first!


Step 5

STEP 5

Once you’re happy with the selection, press OK, which will bring you back to your original image with marching ants highlighting your selected area.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

To work on the out of focus background area, invert the selection by pressing Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I.

Advertisement. Article continues below

Step 6

STEP 6

Click on the Add Curves Adjustment icon in the Adjustments Panel to add a non-destructive Curves adjustment layer to the image. You should notice that the marching ants disappear and the Curves adjustment layer has a black and white mask attached to it.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 7

STEP 7

In the Curves properties panel, click in the middle of the tone curve to create a new curve point and drag directly upwards on the central guideline to brighten up the background.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials


Step 8

STEP 8

Once you're happy with the effect produced, continue editing your image as normal.

See also: 86 Best Photoshop tutorials

Advertisement. Article continues below