Photo Editing, Photoshop, Tutorial

How to select using “select subject” and “pen” tool in Photoshop?

November 19, 2020 - Lucky

As this name tells us, the “select subject” feature is being used for selecting a subject in the images by Photoshop’s machine learning method called Adobe Sensei.

And in some cases, it is doing pretty good work, if the select subject does not make a clear selection we can improve it by using the pen tool, many other tools like the quick selection tool can do a similar job but the pen tool is faster and precise.

Avalibility ? 

The “Select subject” feature is available in Photoshop cc 2018 and later versions. 


Select subject tool is mostly used for creating Layer masks, making image cutouts of the subject, change color, or manipulate image subjects.

“As the select subject tool named, there should be a subject in the image otherwise this tool will not work.”

So let’s start making a cutout using it.

  1. Open an image in Photoshop, start with an image which has only a subject and good contrast between background and subject, we can download a good image from and

2. Make a copy image using by pressing “ctrl+j” for mac “commond+j”.
3. Rename this layer to “cutout”.

4. Now go to the “select” menu and press the “subject” option. it will do all the work. 

5. As we can see the subject in the image got selected, this tool does a 90% job in this case.

6. Now select the “pen” tool. 

7. Zoom and start tracing the image by pen tool, see the direction of the handle and now we need to make the curve in a different direction. 

8. So press the ALT key on the keyboard and turn the handle in the direction where we want the next curve.

9. After selecting the area close the pen tool at the point from where we started.

10. Now, right-click and press the “make selection” option a dialog box will appear their select the “subtract from selection” operation because we want to subtract this area from the selection.

11. Press “Ok”, see the area we have selected is get subtract from selection and we got a crisp selection.

12. Now, trace an area where we want to add that area in selection.

13. Right-click and select the “Add to selection” operation and press “ok”.

14. The area gets added to the selection, do the same process for the rest of the image.

15. After all the areas got excluded and included which we want, Turn off the background layer and press the Layer mask button.

16. It will give a layer mask that hides the background in the image Now go to Select and press the “Select and Mask” option.

17. Choose “Refine Edge Brush Tool”.

18. Now zoom the image and refine the area where it is needed.

19. We can also use these sliders to refine our selection try them when you satisfied press “ok”.

We get a very good layer mask on our image background and the only subject is visible you can export this as PNG or use it as you see fit.