Introduction and Changing Views
Making Selections




If youve got an image and you want to effect part of it, youll have to tell PhotoShop which part youre trying to effect. Youll have to select an area, and tell PhotoShop to only effect the area youve selected. Itll listen, too. When you make a selection, PhotoShop will not touch anything outside of the selection.

Learning how to effectively make selections duing your web design course is the most important thing youll do in PhotoShop. Selections will always effect the way your images look.


Youre going to use tools to make selections.


Choosing the Right Tool For the Right Job

PhotoShop has 49 tools for you to choose from on the toolbox.

"Wait a minute," you say smugly, "I counted the tools and there are only 20!"

Well, youre wrong.

PhotoShop didnt want to make the toolbox too large, so it hid some tools under others.

You can tell which tools have tools under them by the little triangle in the corner of the tool. (enlarged image below)



  1. Click and hold on the Rectangular Marquee tool button.


Youll notice that another window will open with different tools on it. To select a tool, simply slide over and give it a click!


  1. Check out some of the other tools with "hidden tools"
  2. Put them back when youre done.


Selecting with the Rectangular Marquee Tool

Marquee means "mark". Youre going to mark an area and do something with it.

Make sure you have "RGB Balloons" open.

  1. On the toolbox, click the


  1. Click and drag diagonally over an area in the image.

You just made a selection!


  1. Grab the Paintbrush tool from the toolbox
  2. Click and drag back and forth across your selections. Go outside the lines. Be messy.


Youll notice that the brush wont paint anywhere outside of the selection!


  1. Hit Delete on your keyboard


You selected something and did something to it! Youre on your way now!


  1. Practice making selections on the screen.


Backing Up When You Mess Up

Nobodys perfect. Youre going to make mistakes.

You can back-up one move by clicking:



You can back all the way up to the last time you saved by clicking:


Revert has a secret shortcut key, its F12


  1. Revert your image so it looks new.


Deselecting Areas

Sure, selecting is cool, but what if you dont want the selection anymore? Youre going to have to know how to deselect an area.

Heres another shortcut youll use all the time. If you just had to guess what the shortcut was to deselect, what would you guess/ How about:



  1. Select some areas and deselect them.


Sometimes it is easy to have a selection and not know it. You might be zoomed in to a different part of the image, or you might have made a very small selection. If nothing is working, and you have no idea why, you might want to try deselecting.


Making Circular Selections

The Elliptical Marquee is hidden under the Rectangular Marquee.

  1. Click and hold the Rectangular Marquee to display the Elliptical Marquee. Choose it.


  1. Select an area in your image by clicking and dragging.


Editing Selections

Circles and squares are nice, as long as you only want to select circular and rectangular areas. Youll need to learn how to modify your selections to better suit your needs.


Adding to a Selection

You can add to a selection by using the add to selection button on the Options Bar.

  1. Make a good sized circular selection in your image


  1. Click the Add to Selection Button


  1. Draw a circle that slightly overlaps the first one.

You just added to a selection!


  1. Deselect (CTRL/CMD + D)


  1. Make a selection that looks like:

Youll have to use a combination of selection tools. You can use any combination of selection tools on any selection. Dont forget to hold click the Add to Selection button!


You can also add to a selection by holding SHIFT on your keyboard while you use the selection tools.


Subtracting From a Selection

Sometimes you will have to trim a selection that is too large. If youre trying to cut someones head out of picture 1 and place it into picture 2, youre not going to want to see the edges of the background from picture 1. Youll have to trim all of the background out of the selection.


So far, youve been selecting areas. Clicking the Add to Selection button or holding SHIFT tells PhotoShop "select this area, too".

By clicking the Subtract from Selection Button, youre telling PhotoShop "de-select this area".

You can also hold alt on your keyboard to subtract from a selection while using the selection tools. ALT stands for "alternative". The alternative to adding to a selection is subtracting from a selection.


  1. Make a good sized circular selection in your image


  1. Click the Subtract From Selection Button

  1. Draw a circular selection that intersects your current selection.

You just subtracted from a selection!



  1. Try to make a selection that looks like:

  1. Deselect


Using the Lasso Tool to Select

The Lasso tool allows you to make a selection in any shape you feel like. Its a good idea to zoom in on whatever youre trying to select.

To use the Lasso tool, youll simply drag around in your image. When you let go of the mouse button the selection will close itself. Of course you can use the Add and Subtract Selection buttons with the Lasso.


  1. Select the Lasso tool from the toolbox.
  2. Click and drag around in your image. You can make any shape you want.
    1. Deselect
  3. Zoom in on one of the balloons and select it with the lasso. Use Add and Subtract Selection buttons to fix any mistakes. Precision matters, folks.
  4. When youre satisfied with your selection:
    1. EDIT-> COPY
    2. EDIT-> PASTE
      The new balloon will appear directly on top of the old one. It might not look like anythings changed, but it has.
  5. Drag your new balloon around with the pointer tool


The Polygonal Lasso

What if you wanted to select the below image?

It wouldnt be much fun with the lasso.


This is where the polygon lasso comes in handy. The polygon lasso makes straight-line selections. The polygon lasso is kept under the regular lasso on the toolbox:


To use the Polygon Lasso:

  1. Choose a starting selection point. Click.
  2. Click at each corner of the object you wish to select. You dont have to click and drag!
    The Polygon lasso will make a straight-line selection between the two points.
  3. Double click to close the selection


***If you mess up and want to start over, hit Esc on your keyboard.

Play with the Polygon Lasso tool.


Selecting With the Magic Wand

What if you wanted to change the color of the sky in the below picture? Youd have to select the whole sky, but not the balloons or the crowd. Wouldnt be fun with the lasso.


Wouldnt it be great if there were a tool that would allow you to select by color? You could just click the blue sky, and the whole sky would magically be selected.

Thats exactly the way the magic wand works. Youll click on a color and the magic wand will select any like colors that are connected to the color you clicked. Youll adjust the sensitivity of the magic wand to decide if it considers light blue to be a different color than dark blue.


  1. Select the magic wand from the tool palette.


  1. Click in the dark area of the sky

**NOTE: Both SHIFT and ALT work with the magic wand, as well as all the other selection tools.


  1. Deselect


Adjusting the Magic Wands Sensitivity

Notice that the magic wand selected most of the sky, but it considered the light blue near the bottom of the screen to be excessively different from the darker top of the sky. To select the bottom part of the sky you could hold SHIFT (or turn on the Add to Selection Button) and click it again. You could also adjust the sensitivity, or tolerance, of the magic wand tool.

To adjust the magic wand tolerance:

  1. Make sure you have the magic wand selected.
  2. Adjust the Tolerance on the Options Bar.

Default is "32". 32 doesnt really mean anything, its just the number they picked.

  1. Click the sky. Mess with the tolerance. Click the sky again. The higher the tolerance, the less picky PhotoShop is about selecting like colors.


Using The Magic Wand To Select Multicolored Objects On A Single Colored Background

Heres a nice trick for you! Remember that the magic wand can be used in combination with all the other selection tools. Also remember that you can use the magic wand and ALT to remove color from a selection.


What if you wanted to select the yellow balloon?


You could select it with the lasso, or you could use a combination of tools to get the balloon quickly and easily!

  1. Select the balloon with the rectangular marquee selection tool.


Now, youve got the balloon and some blue sky, but you dont want the blue sky to be selected.
What selects or deselects based on color? Thats right, the magic wand!


  1. Use the magic wand holding ALT (or with the Subtract From Selection button pressed). Click in the blue area of the selection.




Flipping a Selection

Sometimes its really easy to select everything except what you want.

If you had a picture of the beautiful woman below, and you wanted to cut her out of the picture to use on your super stylish website, you could easily select the yellow background, right?

PhotoShop allows you to inverse, or flip, your selection. Youll end up with the opposite of what you had selected.

To inverse a selection:

  1. Open "Alexis.psd" from your images folder.
  2. Select the yellow background using the magic wand.
    Remember that you can adjust the tolerance and use SHIFT to add to a selection.
    You can use the lasso to clean up the selection.

Now you have everything except the girl (story of my life)




Your selection has flipped, now you have just what you want! Copy and paste with abandon!

Dont worry if your pasted image looks rough on the edges. Youve still got a few tricks to learn.

Soft Feathered Selections

Selection tools select by the pixel. Because pixels are square, you sometimes end up with jagged looking edges. PhotoShop can soften up the edges for you by applying a "feather" to the selection. A feather is soft, right? Well a feathered selection is a soft selection.

Notice how much better the feathered selection looks?


To Feather a Selection

  1. Make the selection
  3. Choose how many pixels in each direction that your selection should be "soft".
    Note that the feather will apply to both sides of the selection.

Notice that there is also an option for feathering on the Options Bar. Adjusting the feather here will not change current selections.


Try it:

  1. Open "RGB Balloons.psd" and make a large circular selection in the center.


  1. Apply a 20 pixel feather (SELECT-> FEATHER)
  2. Hit Delete on your keyboard
  3. Deselect (Ctrl/Cmd + D)



Using Feathers to Make Clean, Smooth Selections


A 20-pixel feather would be way too much if youre just trying to smooth out a selection before cutting and pasting. Youd probably only use a one-pixel feather. The problem is that a one-pixel feather goes soft for one pixel on both sides of the line, so youll see a faint outline of the background color:

You can control this problem in two ways:

  1. Photograph against a backdrop the same color as your website or final image background.
  2. Contract your selection by one pixel before you feather.

To Contract Your Selection:



After youve contracted by one pixel, feather by one pixel (SELECT-> FEATHER)


**ANOTHER NOTE: Some items have small parts that dont tolerate a 1 pixel feather very well. You can either not use a feather on these items, or cut and paste them in sections, only applying a feather to the smoother, feather-happy parts.


Using Feathers to Create a Fancy Vignette

Nice, eh? Vignettes are used to create a soft, pleasing look.

To create the above vignette:

  1. Open "RGB Balloons.psd" and make a large circular selection in the center.

  1. Apply a 20 pixel feather (SELECT-> FEATHER)
  2. Inverse your selection (SELECT-> INVERSE)
  3. Hit Delete on your keyboard
  4. Deselect (Ctrl/Cmd + D)