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Making Selections in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 6 of 6

Select Menu Essentials

Ben Willmore

Making Selections in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

6. Select Menu Essentials


  Class Trailer
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1 Class Introduction Duration:06:03
2 Selection Tools Duration:05:55
3 Combining Selection Tools Duration:07:37
5 Quick Mask Mode Duration:05:07
6 Select Menu Essentials Duration:21:27

Lesson Info

Select Menu Essentials

So let's look at other images. Let's figure out how to make selections within them and how to just get better at selection tools. All right, I've already shown you one way of selecting a circle that was using the Elliptical Marquee Tool, I could use that to select the medal, if that's what I want to selected it I could choose many of the tools, like the Lasso tool I'd manually trace around it but out of these automated tools that help us out, it's a matter of which one would be most efficient. If I use quick selection, I can click here it will select things that it thinks look similar to that and then I keep my mouse button held down and I paint but that internal area might be complicated enough that it takes a while to get across it. So I might decide that I just think it would be more efficient, if I tried it instead with the Object Selection Tool. 'Cause the Object Selection Tool, you paint around the outside of an object, and I think that's pretty easy to do right here and then it ...

kind of snaps that in. It's like having a true Lasso like the kind of cowboy uses and you pull the rope and it gets smaller in there. So it was just a matter of figuring out what might be the most efficient method for selecting something. And so when you're a beginner, you start off with whatever tool and you know, that you know will do the job even though it might not be the most efficient and then as you progress, you try to figure out how to be more effective and faster. So let me see if I wanted to select some of this text that's up here. Well I'm gonna use the Object Selection Tool and I'm just gonna trace around one of these letters, get it selected and let's see if there are other features we might be able to use. Well if I go to the Select menu, there is a choice here called Grow. Grow means take the selection I already have, look at what's contained within it and if there's anything else touching that selection, that looks the same, the same color and brightness, expand my selection to include that. So if I choose Grow, and you look at what I currently have selected which is just part of that letter and I choose Grow, I just got the entirety of the letter. Because it looked at what I had selected and it said as anything else touch this that looks like the same color and brightness. And if so it could select it. But Grow selects a contiguous area, meaning an unbroken chunk. And that's why it didn't leap all the way over here to this part that doesn't touch. But if I go back to the Select menu, there is a choice called Similar. And Similar looks across the entire document for things that are similar in color, to what I currently have selected. Now the problem with that is it's probably gonna think that the red lanterns that are inside the circle are similar in color and it might think that the reddish surroundings like the wall itself is similar. I'm not certain, let's find out. Now I got all the letters but it also thought that the lamps inside and the red wall were similar enough that they should be included. Well how did it know that was similar enough? Well that's the tolerance setting on the Magic Wand Tool. I wish they would give this feature a separate setting, like a slider, to adjust but you'd have to go to your Magic Wand tool and lower the tolerance and then try this over again to make it work on a narrower range of colors. But, we can still easily do this. If I right now go to my Lasso tool where I can draw freeform shape, then do you remember that we can add to a selection, we can take away from a selection or we can intersect a selection. Intersect means crop the selection we currently have so you only keep the portion that's within what I draw right now. And I'm gonna do that with my Lasso tool. I have my Lasso tool and I could either click on this icon right here, which means give me the intersection of where two selections overlap or I can alternatively use my keyboard, holding down both Shift and option that would be Shift and Alt as in Windows. And I'm just gonna draw with the Lasso tool around this area right here, to say only give me this portion of what's already selected, got it. So it's really important to learn how to add to and take away from selections and to use all the selection tools. So you become good at them. So in this case, I have those letters. I could now copy them and paste them into another document or if I wanted to adjust them, let's say I didn't want them to be read, Image, Adjustments, Hue and Saturation is one area where we have a Hue slider. Hue means basic color and so now I could say well, what color do I want? So all sorts of selections, we can create here. Let's see what other images we might have challenges with. Well this image would I notice about it that's unique is the background is blurry, and the subject is sharp. I could go to the Select Menu and there is a choice within it called Subject and see if that does a good enough job to do what I need. In at the moment, Photoshop's interface is not appearing. Hold on a second. Come on Photoshop. Okay, I just needed to get it to update my screen. I'm having screen reader ashes. So if I look close at this Selection, I zoom up, this is what I get from going to the Select Menu and choosing subject. It was able to find that in general but it messed up in many areas. So now I need to decide what tool do I need to use to touch this up. And I have all the tools at my disposal. For old-school people, they might grab the Lasso tool because that's been in there since Photoshop version 1.0. So they are used to using it. For those of you that are used to newer versions, you might decide use Quick Selection or Object Selection. I'm gonna use Object Selection. I need to take away the blue sky from in-between these little wings. So I'll hold on the key that takes away which is option Ultem windows. I'll trace around the area that I no longer need selected I'll let go and I'll hope it fixes it. I'll do the same thing for this next area over. And see if it'll fix it. It can't find the edge within that it's too small so it just can't do it. But, it can probably do it in other areas. So I'll hold down the option key to take away and I'll see if I can take away down there. Up here it forgot part of its head. So I hold down the Shift Key. Shift means add. And I see if I can add that. And it messed up again so I see if it can add that. But that's too similar because there's like a gray cloud behind in all. So it's not doing a great job. But wherever I need to add, I can attempt to use that. But at some point, I'm probably gonna give up and when I give up I'm gonna start enhancing this manually and when I do that it's usually Quick Mask Mode that I had to. So let's type a letter Q. Remember Q is the exact same thing as clicking this icon right here, to turn on Quick Mask Mode. And now that I'm in Quick Mask Mode, red indicates an area not selected and whatever the picture looks normal it is selected. And I can grab a paintbrush tool and modify this. So what I'm gonna do, is I'm gonna paint with black, black adds to the red stuff and I'm gonna just paint like this and I know I'm getting overspray on the rest of the bird, I'll take that overspray away in a moment. Then I'm gonna switch and paint with white. Do you remember that little double arrow that allows me to switch these two? And now painting with white takes away the red stuff and I'm just gonna take it away where I got the overspray. And therefore I can get into a really tight nook there that I would usually need a microscopic brush to paint in and I can still select it with a larger brush because I added in one instance and took away another. Same thing here, in fact that double arrow right here there's a keyboard shortcut for it. If you hover over and pause, it'll tell you its Letter X. X means exchange those colors. So I'll just type the letter X when I need to paint with black, like that type X again and I'm painting with white and get that selection. Up where the head is it's hard to see 'cause I can't really see the edge but I might well have. Just paint out like this, so you can see the edge then hit X ear pain with black and now paint it in, like that. So we can fix that. There are many other things we can do here. I don't expect to get this to be perfect at the moment because we have another session that is going to be called Advanced Masking. and with Advanced Masking, whole different hour of time we're gonna look at more advanced ideas, I can give you just a hint of it right now if I type a letter Q to turn off Quick Mask, we'll learn about doing things like going up here and choosing something called Select and Mask. When we're in Select and Mask, there's a special tool on the left side that one, where I can paint to give Photoshop control over things. And in here, I could come up in paint where it needs help. Like in between these little feathers here and it will recalculate that area for me and it will work great with free fuzzy feathered objects and be able to modify that. But, that's beyond what we're doing right now. For now, we're looking at selection essentials. And so let's continue. I'll get rid of these images. Let's do a trick with Quick Mask Mode. First, let me remind you of a little bit about Quick Mask Mode. With it, if you have a selection active like this one and you type the letter Q to go to Quick Mask, anything that's not selected is covered with red. But if we wanna change where the red is, we can grab a paintbrush and it's actually painting with black that lets me change it. And if I paint with white, it takes away from it. And anytime I do that, it modifies the selection. So if I turn off Quick Mask Mode with the letter Q, my selection has now changed shape. Well, let's get rid of that selection. And I wanna let you know that you don't have to start with a selection to use Quick Mask Mode. Let's say you wanna sign your name, and you want it as a selection. Well, just type the letter Q when there's no selection at all on your screen. I just did. And then just make sure you're painting with black and paint your name. Now I'm using a Trackpad on my laptop. So this is not gonna look good, but let's say that was your signature. You did it while you're in Quick Mask Mode and then just type letter Q. You have a selection of that shape. The only problem is red indicated where it's not selected and so we have everything except for my signature. Go to the Select Menu and choose Inverse though that always gives you the opposite and now I do have. Wouldn't it look better though if I used a real pen on real paper to get my signature though? Well, you can do that and we can get a very precise selection of it. I'm gonna do that for this text but you could just as easily do it for your signature. All we need to do is make sure that whatever it is we're starting with, is white background, black text. And to do, that we can do an adjustment. Any adjustment you're familiar with or just pick one that somewhat random, if I use this one called Levels, Image Adjustment Levels, the upper right slider this one forces areas to white. So I'm just gonna pull it in and make sure that background is white, the upper left slider which is this one forces areas to black, I'll pull it in until I make sure that that text looks black. Click okay. Then I'm gonna select on Copy This. 'Cause copy is grayed out unless you have a selection. So select all is what I do to make it so it copies everything. So I just copied that. Let's go to Quick Mask Mode. I'm gonna type the letter Q, I'm in Quick Mask, there was nothing that wasn't selected so there's no red showing up yet but then I'm gonna just paste whatever I copied. I copied this picture. So when I choose paste, it's gonna paste it into Quick Masks which is gonna be the same as me drawing it in Quick Mask. You see the red overlay appearing? And I'm just gonna turn Quick Mask Mode off by typing letter Q. But remember red means not selected, so I have the exact opposite of what. I have all the white areas selected. I go to the Select Menu and choose inverse and now I have an Exact selection of that text in the little cake drawing and it should absolutely precisely line up with the edge even if that edge is very complex. But that's only true if the thing I was attempting to select was solid black and what was surrounding it was solid white. Because that's how Quick Mask mode works, you paint with black or white to indicate is it not selected with black or selected with white. So now I could copy this and I could paste it on a different document or do anything else I want. Alright, in this image what I'd like to do is bring out the texture in detail that is in the kind of pinkish area of this flower, I'm gonna do that using a filter that's called the Camera Raw filter. It offers most of the same adjustments you have in the Camera Raw screen that you get when you open a raw file, but here we can do it within Photoshop itself. I'm gonna just show you the adjustment I'd like to apply and that's Camera Raw filter and then down here it's just a choice called texture. And if i zoom up on this, watch the veining in here as I bring up texture do you see it popping out. But I don't wanna apply that to the yellowish areas or the background or other things. So I wish I had a selection before I went in and applied this. So I'll click Cancel, and let's make a selection. Now so far all our selections have had crisp edges. And so if I make a selection with any tool and I type the letter Q to go to Quick Mask Mode you see it's got a crisp edge. Turn off Quick Mask Mode, if I need a soft edge I can either paint in Quick Mask Mode with a soft edge brush or if I have a selection I can go to the Select Menu and there's a choice in here that's called Feather. It's actually Select, Modify, Feather. And the higher the number you type in, the softer the edge becomes. So I'll type in 20. And now that has a soft edge, if I type the letter Q you'll see it. Can you tell that it's not a crisp edge? It's slowly fades out. So you can feather a selection if you want a soft edge or you can paint with a soft edge brush to produce it when you're in Quick Mask Mode. But I want the selection of this pinkish area and you see that that pinkish area kind of slowly fades out into the yellow. So I need a somewhat soft selection there. I need a really complex selection that I don't think those tools we've used so far will be able to handle. Because they're looking for an object that they wanna find the edges of in there's no true edge where this pink ends. So here's what I'm gonna use, Select, Color Range that means select a range of colors. So this comes up and the first thing I need to do is move my mouse on top of the image and click on the color I wanna select. So I'm gonna click right in here, click. Then this is a preview and this is a mask. Meaning the areas that are white indicates what's selected, the areas that are black indicates what's not. This is a miniature version of my picture. If I hold down the control key, you'll actually see it and if I let go, you'll see the mask. There's a way of previewing this on top of my picture. Kind of like what Quick Mask Mode looks like . Although I don't know how effective that'll be because red overlay on a pink subject is going to blend together. But down here at the bottom, it says preview. And if I said Quick Mask, it would put a red overlay on. But I can't tell where there's no red, so that's not useful. I'm gonna instead choose one of the other options in here. There's one called black mask, black matte I should say. All that's doing is overlaying this exact thing where the areas that are white which is the area that's selected, is the only area where the picture looks normal. And the areas out here where it's not selected are covered up. Well, there's a setting here called Fuzziness which allows me to expand the range of what it's thinking of. It's kind of like adjusting tolerance in the Magic Wand Tool. And I'm gonna bring that up and try to get it so the pink areas are selected and not really the yellows. Now this looks a lot more complicated than it really is. In general, you click on the color you want and then you bring up the fuzziness to say how much do you want to vary from that color. And we can use this on other sessions but for now I wanted to use it to just try to select the pinkish areas. With those selected now, after I clicked okay I can apply my filter, Camera Raw Filter. And when you're in the Camera Raw Filter the preview would get in here is of the entire picture. So when I bring up texture, I'll see the whole image get it. It's only when you click okay that the selection is going to come in and be applied. But if I hide the selection, and I haven't talked about hiding selections yet if you want this edge, we find the marching ants to be distracting but you still want the area selected, you can go to the Select Menu and there is a choice, actually turn their View Menu, just called Extras and if you turn that off by typing Command+H or choosing this, it will hide things like guides in edges of selections. The very first time you type it on a Macintosh, it'll ask this question because the Mac operating system expects command+H to be used to hide the program you're in. I choose hide extras which means do it Photoshop wants to do not what the operating system wants. But you only get that the first time you apply it and on a Mac. Then if you type command+H again they come back. But that allowed me to only bring out the texture and detail in that area that I had selected and I was able to get a selection that had a really complex edge that was totally based on color. But color range, we use it on occasion. So with selections, there are a bunch of tools to use, there's a bunch of challenges you'll run into. It's a matter of getting used to the individual tools so that you're comfortable with them even if you think it's tool that's not very useful. Like a lot of people think the Magic Wand Tool is the tragic Wand Tool. Well the Magic Wand Tool might be the perfect tool for when you've made a selection using a different tool and suddenly you needed to modify it, like that bird with the edges. Well, I could have used the Magic Wand Tool to say take away blue, like the blue sky from around there. And it might have been the perfect tool to use even though it might not be the perfect tool to use for the entirety of a selection knowing how to use it makes it more powerful when you're combining the tools together. But selections are essential, anytime you need to isolate an area in not affect the entire picture.

Class Description


  • Choose the correct selection tool
  • Use automated features to save time
  • Optimize your workflow using keyboard shortcuts
  • Combine Multiple selection tools to create complex results
  • Use Inverse, Reselect, Grow, Similar, and Transform Selection to refine images


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)