Posted by IG Designs On March - 18 - 2011 1 Comment

Here is the promised Photoshop Selection Tools tutorial. If you have carefully read Part 1, you know how these tools work in theory. Now it’s time for a bit of practice. Because Photoshop is all about practice – that’s exactly what my Adobe instructor told me when I passed my first Adobe qualification exam.

So, let’s start with selecting some simple shapes.

I must say this usual thing about keyboard, I’m sure you all know that but anyway:

CTRL on PC = Command on Mac

ALT on PC = Option on Mac

Geometric tools are simple – they draw a selection as a shape. I personally don’t use them very often.

Lasso tool is simple as well – you just draw a selection freehand, that’s all it is.

Polygonal Lasso is worth a bit more attention. Typical use of it is when we need to select an object which has straight sides. Like IG Designs logo:

IG Designs logo

To select Polygonal Lasso right click your mouse on the third icon from the top of the tools panel, by default it has Lasso tool in it, and select Polygonal Lasso. There is a keyboard shortcut for that tool – L

Every time you’ll hit L on your keyboard Photoshop will activate one of the Lasso tools depending on which is currently shown on the icon.

So, you’ve got Polygonal Lasso selected. Now add first anchor point on any corner of the IG Designs logo by left-clicking it. Now when you move your mouse, you see a line following it from the point you have clicked.

first lasso anchor point

Position your mouse over another corner and left-click it again. Now the line follows your mouse from that point and you have another line between two points you’ve already clicked. That’s how it works.

second lasso anchor point

Repeat steps by clicking every corner. When you position your mouse close to the start point, you’ll see a small circle appearing next to the pointer icon. That means you can close your selection by clicking on that place and even if you’re not precise Photoshop will match the start and the end points for you. Now you see “marching ants” around the IG Designs logo – selection is done.

selection done "marching ants"

Say you want to copy that object and paste it somewhere. To do so you go Edit > Copy on the top menu or CTRL+C on your keyboard. Object is copied to clipboard. If you wish to paste it in the same image, you go Edit > Paste or CTRL+V on your keyboard and Photoshop will create a new layer with a copy of that object in it. It will appear EXACTLY over your original object, so to see the copy you have to move it or switch off original layer’s visibility by clicking a little eye icon next to it. To move your object, select Move Tool (first icon on the top, shortcut – V) and with your copy layer selected (!) move it by clicking and dragging or using keyboard arrow keys.

copied object

You are free to paste that object in any document you’ll open in Photoshop now. Your copied object will stay on clipboard until you put there something else or restart Photoshop.

If you with your object selected will hold CTRL key and position your mouse over the object, you’ll see a little pair of scissors. If you click and move it while holding CTRL, you’ll cut the object out from its current location. The above method works with any selection tool.

object cut out

Let’s move to the next tool – Magnetic Lasso

Say you want to select this paper bag

paper bag

Activate the Magnetic Lasso tool and before you go, pay attention to the top options bar. You should set it to: new selection and feather 0px. Other settings leave as they are.

magnetic lasso options

Click anywhere on your object to set a start point. And then just drag your mouse over the object’s border all around and click again when you’ll see a little circle next to your pointer icon to close the selection.

paper bag selected

Now you need to deselect an empty area within the bag handle.

In your options panel switch the selection mode to Subtract from selection and click on the handle’s border.

substract option

And again drag your mouse and close the selection. Now an empty space is cut out from your selection.

paper bag selected full

Next one is the Quick Selection tool

Activate the tool

quick selection tool

And click the red circle. As you can see it’s selected automatically now. Quick Selection tool found the nearest colour contrast border and made a selection on it.

selected circle

Now activate a Magic Wand tool

magic wand tool

Again check the options bar. New Selection mode must be active. Leave all the other settings as they are. Now click on the shape coloured with gradient.

gradient clicked once

As you can see Magic Wand has selected just one colour and its tones. In the options panel click “add to selection” and then click next to already made selection so another part of an object is added to your selection. Keep clicking until the whole object is selected. That’s how the Magic Wand works. For better understanding you can play around with Tolerance – set it to 10 and start selecting any object. Then deselect it, set Tolerance to 90 and repeat selecting the same object to see the difference.

Now you know how these tools work in reality. Play around with settings of each to get used to them.

Tip: Sometimes it’s easier and more convenient to select everything around your object and then inverse the selection instead of selecting an object itself. Say you want to select all the objects on the picture. Activate the Magic Wand, set tolerance to 50 and click once on the background. As long as the background colour is not sold, click in the middle of it to include the darker and lighter colour tones.

Now go to top menu > Select > Inverse or keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+I. All the items are selected.

items selected

That’s basically it. Here are the steps of selecting once again:

1)    Activate the tool needed

2)    Configure tool’s options

3)    Make a selection

Keyboard shortcuts (will activate the tool currently shown on the icon):

Elliptical and Rectangle marquee – M

Any Lasso – L

Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools – W

Copy the selection – CTRL+C

Paste the selection – CTRL+V

Here is some more of useful stuff some of you might not know yet.

We all make mistakes. Especially when practicing. So if you made a mistake hit CTRL+Z it will bring you 1 step back. If you need to get back more than one step then you’ll need to use History panel. Top menu > Window > History will bring it out and you will be able to choose the step you want to go back to. Then you can jump front again if you wish to.

history panel

Now you’re able to do any selections. The choice of the tool you use for it is totally up to you. There is a hundred and one way how to do the same thing with Photoshop. Practice and you’ll find yours.

And one last but not least advice for today: learn keyboard shortcuts, they are huge timesaver. There is plenty of them, it might be a bit difficult to remember all of them at once, but trust me – they worth it. After a while you’ll find that using both hands (mouse+keyboard) in Ps workflow is significantly speeding up the process.

Have a nice day!

One Response so far.

  1. Jahlin says:

    That’s really tihnikng out of the box. Thanks!