Depending on what version of Photoshop you are using, there are different ways to extract fine selections, such as hair or fur, from a background.
Somewhere along the way, around version CS5 or CS6, Adobe put a new selection tool or menu item in Photoshop that makes removing detailed areas from backgrounds much easier.
Yet another source says that Refined Edge was introduced in version CS3. That same source also says:
In Photoshop CS4 you can access Refine Edge through the new Adjustments panel (Black & White Adjustment Layers).
I personally own an older version of Photoshop, version CS4, and if I am understanding all these tutorials and articles correctly, versions of Photoshop prior to CS5 or 6 lack Smart Radius and Edge Selection choices in the Refine Edge dialog box.
Adobe Photoshop version history (via Wikipedia)
Version CS4 – released 2008
Version CS5 – released 2010
Version CS6 – released 2012
Version CC – released 2014
Here, I am compiling a list of links to tutorials – both posts and videos – that demonstrate how to remove detailed areas from backgrounds.
I may continue to add new links to this blog post as I find them. If you know of any similar, good tutorials on this topic, please feel free to leave links to them in the comments below.
Advance Hair Selection Tutorial – (2015) – via Clipping Path Specialist
Use Refine Mask Instead of Refine Edge – (2009) – mentions CS4
How to cut out hair in Photoshop (2012) – via Creative Bloq
This Creative Bloq tutorial – which uses a photo of a woman with frizzy hair against a solid-color background – tells you to use the Quick Selection tool to select the person’s head as best you can, and then select the Refine Edge tool, which can be accessed after a selection is made with any of the selection tools.
Excerpt, Step 2:
Check Smart Radius and set Radius to 72. Check Decontaminate Colors and choose Output: New Layer with Layer Mask, then hit OK. Next, highlight the bottom layer, then click the Create Adjustment Layer icon and choose Solid Color. Set R:227, G:196, B:196 and hit OK.
The last step is to select the image’s mask by right-clicking it and choosing Refine Mask > Refine Radius > use that tool to paint over any gaps. When you’re satisfied with the results, choose “OK”
Uses Quick Selection > Refine Edge | Edge Detection | Smart Radius
Cutting out people in Photoshop ready for compositing can be quite a time-consuming task, especially if they have lots of curly or fine, flyaway hair.
Luckily, the Refine Edge tool is there in Photoshop CS5, CS5.5, CS6, CC or CC2014 to save you time by doing a lot of the hard work for you by tapping Photoshop’s built-in Smart Radius and Edge Detection technology.
The following tutorial uses the old school method of using channels and painting in black and white to create a mask, which is a far more time consuming method, but it is one that will work in version CS4 and earlier (which lacks the Edge Detection and Smart Radius method):
✦ Tutorials for older versions of Photoshop:
This tutorial dates from 2006 and relies on using Extract (Filter > Extract):
Selecting Frizzy Hair (2006)
Modifying Selections – via Photoshop CS4 The Missing Manual (has pertinent screen caps of CS4 dialog boxes)
✦ Video Tutorials (that may or may not rely on Edge Detection or Smart Radius):
The video from that page:
The video from that page: