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Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements to organize and edit photos, build photos into projects like slideshows and photo books, and share photos with family and friends. Jan explains how to train Photoshop Elements 8 to recognize and tag faces, use the Smart Brush for targeted adjustments, and share photos using Adobe's online service, photoshop.com. She also dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
There are a number of selection tools in Elements that select automatically on the basis of color and tone in an image. One of those is Magic Wand tool, which is located right here in the toolbar. I'm going to select that tool and then I'm going to try to select the sky in this image by clicking with the Magic Wand tool in his darker area of the sky. The Magic Wand tool looks at the color and tone of the pixel upon which I've clicked and then selects a range of similar colors and tones. It didn't do a terrific job with that click.
The problem with a Magic Wand is that it's really hard to predict exactly what it's going to select, as in this case. There are a couple of things that can try in an attempt to get a better selection with the Magic Wand. So I'm going to deselect by pressing Ctrl+D on my keyboard, and I'm going to go up to the Options bar for the Magic Wand and I'm going to uncheck the box for Contiguous. With Contiguous checked, the Magic Wand will select only pixels that are adjacent to one another. With Contiguous unchecked, I'll have a better chance of selecting various areas of the sky even if they're not touching one another.
To show you what I mean I'm going to try clicking again in approximately the same area and Elements does select similar colors and tones in other non-contiguous parts of the sky. But that isn't what I wanted either. I wanted the whole sky to be selected. So I'm going to deselect again by pressing Ctrl+D. And this time I'll expand the range of colors and tones that the Magic Wand tool is going to select by going up to the Options bar for the tool clicking in the Tolerance field and highlighting the default tolerance of 32 levels on either side of the color and tone of the pixel on which I've clicked.
I'll try setting the Tolerance to a larger number, maybe 50, but it's always a guess because there's no preview of what that number will do for me. I'll come back into the image again and I'll click and this time I've almost gotten a whole sky selected. There are just a few pixels over in this area that did not get selected. I could try to add to the selection by clicking this Add to Selection icon and clicking several more times with the Magic Wand. But I want to make the point that you'll often use more than one tool together.
So I think it would be quicker and easier in this case to select the Lasso tool from this slot, set it to Add to the Selection by clicking the second icon, the Add to Selection icon in the Options bar for the Lasso tool. Then coming into the image and just clicking and dragging a lasso that encompasses all of those stray pixels that I didn't get with the Magic Wand. Now I have the entire sky selected. So as you can see there is a lot of trial and error involved in using the Magic Wand.
Let me show you another tool that often does a better job and that's the Quick Selection tool. I'm going to minimize this image by pressing the minus sign on the top right of the document window, and then I'm going to double-click in the project bin another image that I have open. Say that I want to select the sky in this image. I'm going to try the Quick Selection tool, which is located here along with the Selection Brush tool that I showed you in the last movie. I'll move into the image and I'll start dragging and as I do, the Quick Selection Brush selects pixels of similar color and tone to those underneath my brush tip, and it's smart enough to know where the edges of the sky are located.
If I want to add to that selection, the Quick Selection Brush automatically switches to the Add to Selection icon up here in the Options bar after I've used it once. So I can click and drag in these other areas to add to that selection. Now I see that I included some of this green tree in the selection. If I don't want to include the green tree, I'll go up to the Minus option in the Quick Selection Tool Options bar and then I'll come into the image and I'll drag over the green tree and then if I wanted to, I could switch back to the Plus sign and try to get some of that blue back like that.
I'm going to fill in this selected area of the image with color by going up to the Edit menu, choosing Fill Selection, check that my blending mode is set to Normal and I'll come to the Use menu and I'm going to choose to Fill with White, and then I'll click OK. Then I'm going to deselect by pressing Ctrl+D on the keyboard. Notice that the edge of the white fill is pretty rough along the balloon here. One way to fix that is to use the Refined Edge commands that are accessible from the Options bar of any of the selection tools.
So I'm going to undo that fill by pressing Ctrl+Z on my keyboard twice and that leaves me with the selection active. If you don't have a selection you can go up to Select menu and choose Reselect, if it's not grayed out. Now I'm going to click the Refined Edge button here in the Options bar for a Quick Selection tool or any of the selection tools. That opens the Refined Edge dialog box. I'll click on its title bar and move it over, so you can see more of the image. I'm going to click the default button to set it back to its default settings, and then I'm going to select one of the two Preview options down here.
The first option currently selected is just a regular view of the marching ants selection. The second view shows the non-selected areas covered with a red overlay or mask. I'll use this view as I go to the Feather slider and drag it to the right. Notice that blurred the edge of the selected area and you can see a little bit of that blur, so that may be a little far. Maybe I'll go back to about two pixels, and I generally don't feather too much or I'll get an edge on my selection that's too blurry.
I can also try to smooth out the selection by dragging the Smooth slider to the right and I can contract the area covered by the selection by dragging to the left or expand the area covered by the selection by dragging to the right. I'll leave things at that and I'll click OK. Now I'm going to try to fill that area again by once again going to the Edit menu and choosing Fill Selection and clicking OK. Then I'll deselect by pressing Ctrl+D. Now I have a smoother softer edge to the area that I'd selected and then filled with white.
I think you'll find that the Automatic Selection tools, the Magic Wand and particularly the Quick Selection tool, come in really handy when you're selecting complex areas, making it a lot easier than it would be with manual tools, and the ability to refine your selection in the Refined Edge dialog box can help you make selections more quickly and efficiently.
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