The Fundamentals Of Making Selections In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

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The Fundamentals Of Making Selections In Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

The image shows a gull on a fence post and the Channels palette and the Load selection dialog box.
Making and manipulating selections in Photoshop is a fundamental skiil to master.

The great thing about this Graphics Software site, is that there is a ton of truly awesome content here. Still, there is so much content, from so many years, that trying to keep the content current is somewhat of an uphill battle. It is a fact of life that the pace of change with Graphics Software happens at a dizzying pace as new tools get added, features are added or removed and techniques constantly change. So it is with Photoshop, which has been around for just over a quarter century. Having been here for just over a year I have seen the introduction of the Dehaze filter, changes to artboards, the introduction of the Design Space and written a number of “How To’s” ranging from creating the Orton Effect and replacing skies, to swirl effects in Photoshop.

Being a teacher doesn’t hurt either. My Multimedia Design students a Humber College are a constant source of inspiration as they struggle to grasp and master the fundamentals of Photoshop. This has resulted in a series “How To’s” around the fundamentals of Photoshop such as creating cast shadows , working with Smart Objects and masking in Photoshop. One of the more common techniques they eventually master is making selections in Photoshop … which is the subject of this “How To” and a fundamental skill for anyone using Photoshop.

Let’s get started.

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How To Choose A Selection Tool in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015

The image shows a Chinese woman and an image of a seagull. The geometric selection tools are highlighted and the Colour based selection tools are open.
Selections are either geometric - based on shape- or on colour. There are a lot of tools at your disposal.

The first step in the process is determining what needs to be selected. Though there are quite a few selection tools, there really are only two types of selection tools: Geometric or Colour. In the above image, if the woman is to be selected, the selection will follow her outline which involves a lot of curves and lines. If the bird is to be selected, its colour – white – will use a Colour based selection tool.

The Geometric Selection Tools are:

  • Rectangular Marquee Tool : Use this to make square selections
  • Lasso: Use this for irregular selections.
  • Polygonal Lasso Tool: Select straight line object like Stop signs. Think of it at a Connect-The-Dots tool where click at the end of each line.
  • Magnetic Lasso Tool: This tool, essentially, selects objects based on colour change though, to use it, you drag around the object to be selected.

The Colour Selection Tools are:

  • Quick Selection Tool: This brush makes colour-based selections. It is ideal for selecting the bird, the sky or the post the bird is sitting on. You can set the size of the brush in the Options bar. You can increase the brush size by pressing ] or decrease the brush size by pressing [.
  • The Magic Wand Tool: This one has lost its luster since the introduction of the Quick Selection tool. Still, it is really handy for selecting areas of solid colour such as the yellow sign behind the lady. You set how much colour using the Sample Size pop down in the Options menu bar.

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How To Manipulate Selections In Photoshop CC 2015

The Expand Selection dialog box is open over an image of a sea gull.
Selections can be manipulated in a number of ways including the ability to save complex selections.

Nobody ever gets a selection right the first time. All selections have areas that are too large and areas that are too small. To add to a selection , hold down the + key and either draw around the edge to be added or hold down the – key and draw or brush around the area to be subtracted.

There are other “tricks” you can use to manipulate selections. In the above example a really quick way of selecting the bird and the post is to select the sky using the Quick Selection tool and then pressing Command/Ctrl- Shift –I (Select>Inverse) which selects everything but the sky.

Another technique is to expand or contract the selection. You do this by selecting Select>Modify>Expand and entering a pixel value for the expansion. If you want to shrink the selection, choose Select>Modify>Contact and enter a value to shrink the selection.

If you make a mistake and need to start over you can choose Select>Deselect or press Command/Ctrl-D.

Finally, if you have spent a lot of time making a precise selection you can save your selection. To do this, choose Select>Save Selection. This will open the Save Selection dialog box, enter a name for the selection and click OK. Where does the selection go? Open the Channels palette and it will appear under the color channels. To load the selection, choose Select > Load Selection. When the Load Selection dialog box opens, locate the channel in the pop down list and click OK.