New Photoshop selection tool seems magical... but will it really save you time?

Photoshop Object Selection
(Image credit: Adobe)

Photoshop's an amazing tool with just about limitless possibilities for working with images, but there's one aspect of it that seems to never get much faster or better. As any designer or artworker will know, creating razor-sharp selections still comes down to painstakingly clicking around your subject with the polygonal lasso tool.

However, Adobe's just released a sneak peek of a Photoshop CC tool that, at the very least, could save you some time with the lasso. Revealed on its YouTube channel, the Object Selection tool is designed to instantly draw selections around any objects that you point it at. Here it is in action:

(And if you're looking for more time-saving Photoshop tricks, check out our Photoshop plugins roundup).

Photoshop product manager Meredith Payne Stotzner describes it as, "using Adobe Sensei machine learning magic to determine the subject," and on first inspection it looks pretty cool. It's a natural evolution of the Subject Selection tool in current versions of Photoshop; while that will attempt to identify the main subject of an image and draw a selection around it, this object selection tool's a lot more versatile.

You can either drag out a marquee over a section of the image or lasso a freehand selection, and the object selection tool will identify any objects within that area and select them. You can also use it as a quick masking tool.

From the video, you can see that it works pretty well; however commenters have already accused it of being a rigged demonstration. "All your selections strongly contrast with the background. I can already select those fairly easily," says one. "If you want to impress me, take that last pic with the blonde girl and the dog and select the girl's hair. It's right in front of grasses that almost match her hair colour. That's the sort of thing I need help with selecting!"

Photoshop Object Selection

As you can see, the Object Selection tool's good but you'll still have to zoom in and fine-tune (Image credit: Adobe)

It's a fair point, and from taking a close look at the results in the video you can see that while objects that contrast strongly with the background are selected accurately, where there's less contrast – the hard-to-select edges of hair are always a great example – things get a lot less precise.

So while this is a welcome addition that'll definitely do the main chunk of the grunt work when it comes to selections, we're certain that for professional results you're going to have to go in and spend time refining by hand. It's not the magic you might have been hoping for, but it'll definitely save you a little time on each job.

Adobe says that the Object Selection tool will be coming to Photoshop CC 'soon'. Watch this space.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.