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Photoshop 21.0 object selection tool – is it any good?

object selection tool fails to select a pair of black shoes on white background properly
The new tool at work – making sloppy selections

Finally, the new object selection tool in Photoshop. I was anticipating the new release (November 2019) because of the three new features they had announced: a better Warp, more control over the Content-Aware Fill, and finally, the new Object Selection Tool that allows you to select objects with just a quick click and drag. I was even intimidated with the last feature: what if it was so perfect that no one would use my Photoshop automation (like instant white background scripts and actions) anymore?

Well, I wasn't really intimidated. That's an exaggeration. Because we all know how promising the Select Subject feature looked when it was advertised, and how useless it turned out to be. And it seems that the new object selection tool is a rightful successor to the horrendous Select Subject. It's basically a bastard of the Marquee Tool and the Select Subject, an unexpected and unwanted offspring. Who needs a tool that can't even select a pair of black shoes on a smooth, almost white background?

A close up of shoe partially selected in the Quick Mask mode
Switching to the Quick Mask mode makes this fact evident: the selection is no good

In product image editing, being able to select objects quickly is important. However, we must be wary of the tools that we use. Some of them leave jagged edges, make holes in the objects and leave some of the background unselected. If the retoucher is not attentive enough, all these flaws might lead to ruined images, rejected work and fines. No one wants sloppy images on their websites, folks!

If you still think this new tool is promising, have a look at this video. It's silent, as no words are necessary – this Object Selection thing is a failure. I took 20 relatively simple to isolate images. Mostly dark objects, contrasted to the background, easy to select with just the Magic Wand and the Isolating Action in a few seconds. And still, almost every time the new might tool was not able to select them properly.

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It might be useful in some cases, I admit, and it was a good idea to make the Select Subject work in a selection. But a quick-paced workflow doesn't leave much room for errors, and if anyone wishes to utilize the Object Selection Tool, they'll have to spend quite a lot of time on fixing all these gaps and holes it leaves around.

As for me, I still think that the best way to quickly remove backgrounds on product images is the Magic Wand + Marquee Tool combo. I've supervised more than a million images isolated with this method, and even after I've quit working for that online store, they still retouch all their images in exactly the same way I implemented. That's worth something.

Booo, Adobe. Another worthless tool.

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