Skip to main content

Selections and Masking Part 1

Lesson 22 from: Adobe Photoshop 101

Ben Willmore

Selections and Masking Part 1

Lesson 22 from: Adobe Photoshop 101

Ben Willmore

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

22. Selections and Masking Part 1


Class Trailer

Day 1


Adobe Bridge Basics


Sorting Images in Adobe Bridge


Processing Images in Adobe Camera Raw Part 1


Processing Images in Adobe Camera Raw Part 2


Image Processing Q&A


Contrast and Color


Adjustment Brush and Auto Mask


Lesson Info

Selections and Masking Part 1

Let's move on to talking about adjustment layers a little more about layer masks and about selections take me just a moment here it's more density intothe I'm not trying to make a really pretty picture with this one I'm just trying to demonstrate how to think about adjustment layers how they relate to masks in also how selections work in that whole um thing so when I come in here and let's say apply a filter to this image maybe what I'd like to do is blur the image I'll come in here and use blur in first off when I look at the blur filters notice that only some of them have three periods after it those air the adjustable blurs the ones that don't have three periods after it just give you a preset amount so I'm limiting myself to the ones with the periods after it then we have a whole bunch of different kinds of blurs and some of them have names that seemed a little more obvious than others the one that seems to be the one with the weirdest name is this one gazi and blur well, there was...

a guy that had a last name that it might have been gauze that invented a way of thinking and they named thing death after him cosy and blur this could have been called will morning blur if they named it after me all it means is an adjustable blur in this case, so any time you wanted adjustable blur that doesn't have any fancy way of working, but it just blurs cosy and bliss where you want to go to, I'm going to choose that and when I do I'm just going to blurt this image so you really can't see the detail kind of like that click okay now when you apply a filter to layer, it usually effects the entire layer unless you have a selection active so let's briefly talk about selections I'm gonna choose undo here and we'll apply that filter a second time but the sun will make a selection first there are many different selection tools and photo shop one of them is the marquis tool right here, and since the marquis tool has a little triangle in its corner, it means there's more than one tool hidden in that slot. I'm going to use the elliptical marquis because it makes ovals and circles, and here we have a subject that might be appropriate for that I'm gonna come in here and click and drag and see what we get there. We see we got this kind of oval shape it doesn't line up with our subject and that's because if you think about how this particular tool works it's kind of weird, I'm goingto start clicking in the upper left corner of the document just to show you how it works and then I'll drag and look at the selection I'm getting like up it's nowhere near the upper left corner of the document that's because it's thinking about a rectangle imagine this circle or oval whatever I'm getting is contained within a cardboard box just a rectangle well where I first clicked is one corner of the rectangle in where elektra is the opposite corner of the rectangle and that's how it's thinking, which means to select this particular object I need act as if it's contained within a rectangular box, so if that was the case, then I need to take this top edge and kind of go over this way and take that side and go up in the corner of the box would be somewhere up here that makes sense that's why I'm gonna click and then I would drag toward the opposite corner of the same box would be in by doing so, I should end up with a select in somewhat close to this there's a trick though when you're doing it because not usually going perfectly line up and that issa's long as you have not released the mouse button yet, then you can adjust this usually you could just move your mouse in all you're doing is changing where the lower right is of this selection that you're making, but if you want to change the position of the whole thing as long as you have not released the mouse button you can press the space bar I still have the mouse held down and when I hold down the space bar I can move the whole thing around so therefore I can reposition and get the top edge tow line up with the top edge of the object with left edge tow line up with the left edge of the object and when I get the top of the left edge I let go the space bar because that's what I had defined with the very first click was kind of the top left and now I can resize this thing and get the bottom in the right side tow line up now I've got a selection it's pretty darn close to this but isn't that make it much more useful to know you can press the space bar to reposition it just don't let go of the mouse button uh it's space bar reposition it let go of space bar but leave the mouse button held down then you can continue moving the mouse to continue changing the size of it in on lee when the size and location are appropriate dilek oh takes a little bit of practice to get that down so now if I were to come in here and apply the same filter the gazi and blur filter instead of blurring the entire picture it's now on ly blurring the area that selected any time you have a selection active, it means this is the area of the image of isolated, so whatever it is I do, I can on ly affect that part if I grab the paintbrush and try to paint, I'm only going to paint inside that selection even if I paint stroke extends beyond it, it will get cut off. It won't show up if I make an adjustment, but going to the image menu in choosing adjustments it's on ly going to affect that part? What I actually want in this case, though, is the exact opposite of what I have. I wanted to blur the surroundings, not thie middle, so I could go to the select menu and there's a choice in there called the inverse inverse means giving the opposite, and so when I choose inverse, instead of having the center of the image selected, I'm and have the entire outside and I could tell the changes happen because look at the outside edge of my document, you see the little moving edge called the marching ants. So now this area out here selected I go to the filter menu, I choose blur, and I've now blurred just the outside, so selection limits where something can happen now let's see how the selection works and how it relates with masks because a bunch of things we can do first, I'm going to select inverse to get back to having the circle selected let's look at a few features, I'm going to go to the select menu and there's a choice, and they're called save selection, choose save and I'll say middle circle thing, I remember what that selection is off then. If you want to get rid of a selection, you could go to the select menu and choose d select or you could just click away from that selection with a selection tool where it thinks it's going to create a new selection over here, but you never drag to define how big of a circle you get, you just click the let go where you it's like a circle of a size of zero eyes, what you got, so either go out there and she's d select or click outside of the selection with a selection tool to say start a selection here, but you never dragged enough to tell it to be of any size, so you get nothing, so I'm gonna take this image now and I'm going to choose save as and when I choose save ass, I'm into choose a file format of tiff, I'm not going to use j peg j peg can't save any extra stuff in it j peg is a finished file format. I give it to people when I'm done with the picture it's not a working file format working file format would be tipped for photo shop I'm default settings and now close it now if I open it again in the future I'll just go over here and say open recent hopefully that top file is the last one I used I didn't give a good file names we'll find out there if I want to get that same selection back and go to the select menu and I can choose load selection and there's little pop up menu here that would give me a list of any selections that I've saved since I've only saved one it's selected by default and click okay and I get that selection back so if you ever make a selection that took you some time you might think you need to use it later you want to go to the select menu in choose save selection stored in your file when you need to get it back again she's load selection will be a poppet manual recon choose all the ones you've saved but where does it go when you save it seems like when you say that it's just magically saves somewhere well it actually goes somewhere where you can go look at it to see how many of them you have saved what they look like in that place where you go is called the channels panel if you have your layers panel open right next to it is usually grouped in channels if you don't find that there on your screen because you messed with stuff if you ever need any one of these panels and you can't find it if you go to the window menu this list every single one of those panels he could possibly have, so if you ever mention a panel and you can't find it on your screen, go here to find it and it would show up but if I go to channels do you see it down on the bottom? There are two kinds of channels and photo shop these channels are actually what your pictures made out of I don't know if you remember when I mentioned were in camera, I mentioned your pictures made out of three colors red, green and blue and I mentioned that we were moving certain sliders we might have started to lose detail in one of those or two of them. If you lost detail in all three we had solid black or solid white well that's the actual info you can actually see it that's your picture for most people they ignore that because that's for techie folk but down here are saved selections in save selections have a name there called alfa channels, so if you ever go to save a picture and you notice a check box right down here called alfa channels plea that in its on it's sitting there it means you have saved selections in your file because that's what they're called that's just a techie term that they never turned into a friendly term so it means that all pictures that you open we'll have these channels up here because that's literally what your pictures made out of technically behind the scenes most people ignore it because they don't want to get into that kind of technical realm but when you say the selection it gets saved down here and to say that they're different than the part that makes up your image they're called alfa channels and so any time you go to save your image, you've got to be careful if you saved those selections because if you choose a file format that does not support off the channels that'll be great out and they'll be a little triangle next to it warning you it's a little warning triangle and that warning triangle usually means you're losing something by using this file format just like before we saw that triangle next to the word layers that's when we had a file that contained layers and we used to file format that didn't support them well the same thing is true here for alf the channel's alfa channel means saved selection so if I choose photoshopped file format it can handle them if I choose tiff file format it can handle him and some of the other skin but photoshopping tiff those are the two main working file formats meaning if the next thing we're going to do is open our picture and do more work on it those were most likely the file formats my image will be saved it yeah and that's why you won't see me using j peg for most anything until I'm done with the picture and I want to deliver it to somebody else that's when I used j peg and that means strip out all the stuff that was needed to make this image and just save the end result and make it kind of small file size wise because I'm done I don't need any extra info in it to do extra work to the file I just want to deliver it so if you captured your image in jpeg file format that's fine when you open it though and start working on it, I'd save it as a tiff and then do all the work and when you're completely done you know you don't need to make any more changes you might say about another j peg as your end result over to deliver to people so that's an alfa channel doesn't that awfully look close to a layer mask but let's load that as a selection wait get that back let's goto layers and let's add a layer mask to that layer well if you have a selection active at the moment you create a layer mask the selection gets converted into the layer mask it gets used to produce a layer mask and what it does is it assumes you only want to keep the area that's selected and you want to hide everything else so I'm gonna click on the layer mask icon no in older versions of photo shop you can't add a layer mask when you're working in the background because it's locked you'd have to double click on the name and change it to something else anything you want that lock would go away and then you could add a layer mask in the newest versions of photo shop they finally realized after like twenty years a time that it's stupid to have to rename the layer so they made it so you can add a layer master the background layer and all it does is change the name for you so you can now do it the newest version but do you see what just happened that selection got converted into this thing larry mask and you remember with a layer mask black hides things white thanks um show up so the areas surrounding what was selected he is gone it's still exist in my file you can see it right here in the layers pal it's just that this thing's hiding it blair mask so any time you hear the word selection and sometimes you hear the word mask they khun do similar things, they can look the same. It'll take you a while, but in general, they're somewhat of the same thing. A selection is a temporary version of something that isolates an area selection temporarily isolates this area, but if you click somewhere else it's gone with a selection tool and you didn't save it, you could go to the select menu to save. Now you save in your picture anytime you say the selection, it looks just like one of those layer mass. It just happens to be in the channels panel that's where it is. Oh, now we've just connected one. We've attached one to a layer and it looks like that. So let's see how we can use a similar concept to try to isolate one of these guys in here? I'm gonna make a selection with a different selection tool. This time I'll use the lasso tool, the lasso tools. What? You used to make a free form selection one that you just sabraw. I'll just draw a terrible shape like that. Do you remember when we had a mask attached to a layer and I hit the back slash key and it showed it was red overlay? And when it was a red overlay I could paint on it you could do the same thing when you have a selection like this it's just you don't hit the back slash key to do it instead you press the letter q he was actually a short cut for a clicking an icon that's in the lower left of my screen you see this icon right here? That thing is right below your foreground and background colors that thing it's called quick mask so if I have a selection on my screen and I type the letter q it's gonna change the selection temporarily into a red overlay that's called quick mask so I'm going to type q right now see the red overlay and if you looked at that icon that was below my foreground and background colors when I type q it just got pushed in I could have just clicked on it with my mouth to do the same thing is hitting a lot of cute now I can modify this by grabbing my paintbrush tool and if I come in here and I paint with white it removes that red stuff if on the other hand our to paint with black without that red stuff the red stuff indicates an area that's not selected so the part of the picture looks normal is the part that is going to be selected and so quick mask is something where you khun take any selection you ever have you khun type the letter q to change the way that selection looks so that it looks like a red overlay and then in order to change the selection, you grab your paintbrush and you paint with black or you paint with white to modify the selection because you just might feel more comfortable using painting tools instead of using selection tools. So I'm just gonna paint a little bit here to try to isolate this particular object and when I'm done and I want to get this back to being a selection because this thing called quick mass mode is a temporary thing it doesn't get saved with your picture, and it can't do anything by itself it's just a way of viewing a selection temporarily hit the letter x to paint with black um, where when you're done, you type q again and you get a selection back in the selection's been modified just like this red overlay has been modified so it's in the same shape, so I'll just hit q to turn off so you can see how I just selected that object by painting, using something called quick mask mode I'm done selecting I might want to use that in the future I see one little spot I missed here because I see a little ariel hit q again and there's a little piece of red there then when I'm done selecting I could go to the select menu to save selection and type in a name and now I saved that on the file so if ever need it back again later I could get it back so I could if I want d select if I don't still need that but it saved in there in case I want to get it back where is it? Saved channels pound you see right there is called fishy one question what softness to use on you bush for that try to match the softness of the object you're attempting to isolate. So if that uh fish there was in motion so it had motion blur to it on the edge then I would think about how wide is the motion blur and that's how wide of a softness I wanted my brush if the edge of that object is razor sharp, then I want a razor sharp brush uh in so it's a matter of trying to match the edge quality of the thing you're trying to isolate uh if that makes any sense. So if I go back to channels and you see where that saved thing is, check this out you see these eyeballs that means that we're viewing our image right now if I were to turn on the eyeball right here did that look like quick mask mode the only difference is what's active right now is still the picture and not this so if I paint the paint when going here he go up here but if I just type the letter q when I have a selection may load that one those election fishy one now I'm gonna hit you watch the channels panel twittered like wait a man so what happens when you type q is it temporarily saves your selection in there temporarily and it just happens to turn on the eyeball up here so you're seeing the picture in this at the same time but what's active what's highlighted that thing so if you grab any paint you paint on your picture that's where the paint goes when I type cue again to turn it off watch that thing it goes away so it's a temporary thing so what they did when they came out with quick mask is they took this thing called channels and they tried to make a user friendly they tried to make it where people that are afraid of opening the channels panel which is most averaged photo shop users could still do it without knowing they're doing it possibly if you ever use quick mask say you love channels because you're using channels blatantly you just didn't have it open people will say I hate channels if you've ever used the layer mask it's a channel attached to a layer okay so the words selection mask in channel are the same thing it's just that a selection is temporary and looks like little marching ants a channel isa saved version of that in a mask is one of those things attached to something like a layer okay? And it takes a while to get your head around that but if you do then used get less confused about terms that people use because you're like should I use this election or should I use a mask? It was like they mean the same thing it's just a mask means it's attached to something so fashionable layer it's attached to an adjustment and if it's not attached to something it's a selection if it saved but not attached to anything just saved channel so it's some concepts where the mean it's the same, but the wording is different and it's just how it's being applied it'll take you a while to get your brain around that yes, questions so if I understand it, which I think I don't fine, thanks time you've made a selection, it shows up in your channels on ly if you save it only if you say that where you turn on quick mass vote yeah, okay, what happens is there's really a hidden channel? Any time you have a selection of your screen there's a hidden one, it doesn't show you it's saying there's one here but we're not even gonna show it to you because you haven't told me to save it if you did it would be there so if you go into quick bass mode you got a temporary chance get a temp oration okay so only saving it makes it a perm yes or there is one of the things you do not that is going to help you but if you type q worked does the temporary one in there watch my layer of my channels panel I could drag it down here to say duplicated and now it'll stay there meaning the quick masked man will go away when I type cue to turn it off but since I duplicated it I did something that would make it stay there uh but that's something that you wouldn't usually need to do but just so you know quick mask means temporary channel over laid on my picture so but channels mass in selections are concepts that will take your brain a while to get used to some people that have used photo shop for fifteen years still think e channel is different than a selection which is different than a mask even though all of them are the same thing they're just shown visually in different places and they might just show the edges versus that overlay so what can we do with some of this stuff? Well, the whole bunch of things all the selection does is isolate something to say that that's the only thing I'm working on that part right there. So if I grabbed the paintbrush and I wanna paint that's the only part where paint can show up if I apply a filter that's the only part that will be affected if I add a mask that'll get converted or attached to the layer, and I don't know how to show it is being attached to the layer when it looks like little marching ants like that, so they show it as a mask and so selections mass and channels they're all the same thing, all right, questions relating to that. Sure, they're probably a bunch that are hard to define. Anyone wants to know can use a selection from woman one image to another. You can't. We can. Oh, yes, I would. There are a couple ways of doing that and let me see if I can describe how I'm gonna open another image.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Course Guide

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

Ben, thanks again for this course. I have taken and purchased quite a few of your courses to date. I keep thinking I will only watch to make sure I am on the right track and you always bring more to the table than the last course. Your teaching methods are the best, sorry to all the other instructors from Creative Live, but you are very easy to understand and you speak in layman's terms so we all can understand. I am following your instructions and working along with your files and it is the best! It is hard to keep up with you even when I watch you on one computer and work with the same files on another computer, to do what you are doing...impossible but I gain so much by trying. You provide so much info on each topic, it is amazing. Thanks to Karen for the PDFs, she does a fantastic job and also, for her templates/layout documents. Thanks again and to anyone who thinks this is too much money for all the videos, the exercise files and the instruction PDF, I am sorry to say but you are mistaken.

John Taylor

Like all of the Creative Live courses, excellent training. Ben does a great job of explaining the entry part of Photoshop. A lot of things cleared up in my head and i like his easy pace into this complex program. Thanks Ben.


I had several "lightbulb" moments with this class, after many years of photography and when you think you know it all, you don't :) Ben Willmore is an excellent tutor, with his many years of experience teaching PS, he obviously knows the types of things a lot of us struggle to understand. I learnt a lot about Bridge, and have since implemented these things into my everyday workflow, so much easier to sort out what I want to keep etc.. Thanks so much Ben and Creative Live. Thanks also to Ben's wife for her amazing work creating the Guide etc. Even though being in Australia, I pay more for the courses (the conversion rate, the aussie dollar is low at the moment) it's very worth it to me. I have paid more for courses here, and learnt next to nothing. Thanks again.

Student Work