Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training
Illustration by Richard Downs

Automatic selection tools


Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training

with Jan Kabili

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Video: Automatic selection tools

Often the quickest way to select an object is based on its color and tone. There are several tools in Elements 9 Full Edit workspace that do that for you automatically. My favorite of those is the Quick Selection tool which is located here in the toolbar. With this tool, I can click in the image and drag and the Quick Selection tool moves ahead of me finding other pixels of similar tone and color and selecting those and it's smart enough to be able to see where there's an edge to the object.
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  1. 11m 0s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Photoshop Elements?
      3m 47s
    3. Touring the workspaces
      5m 55s
  2. 54m 16s
    1. Working with catalogs
      5m 22s
    2. Importing and using the exercise files
      5m 13s
    3. Importing files from your computer
      7m 31s
    4. Importing photos from your camera
      8m 57s
    5. Importing photos from iPhoto (Mac only)
      4m 44s
    6. Importing files from external drives/CDs/DVDs
      4m 44s
    7. Scanning photos
      6m 50s
    8. Dividing scanned photos
      5m 51s
    9. Importing from watch folders (Windows only)
      5m 4s
  3. 39m 10s
    1. Touring the Organizer
      6m 41s
    2. Viewing thumbnails
      6m 15s
    3. Rotating photos
    4. Renaming photos
      2m 55s
    5. Fixing photo dates
      2m 28s
    6. Hiding and deleting photos
      4m 6s
    7. Stacking photos
      4m 22s
    8. Moving files
      2m 43s
    9. Reconnecting missing files
      4m 53s
    10. Using Help
      3m 55s
  4. 54m 22s
    1. Rating photos
      3m 58s
    2. Applying and organizing keyword tags
      7m 4s
    3. Searching by keyword tags
      3m 35s
    4. Tagging with People Recognition
      11m 3s
    5. Using Smart Tags
      5m 57s
    6. Creating albums
      4m 41s
    7. Creating Smart Albums
      6m 28s
    8. Searching by text
      5m 28s
    9. Using the Find menu
      4m 19s
    10. Using the Timeline
      1m 49s
  5. 30m 14s
    1. Viewing slideshows in Full Screen view
      4m 21s
    2. Working with photos in Full Screen view
      9m 20s
    3. Comparing photos
      5m 56s
    4. Viewing by date
      3m 18s
    5. Mapping photos (Windows only)
      7m 19s
  6. 38m 36s
    1. Applying Photo Fix
      9m 0s
    2. The Quick Fix interface
      7m 9s
    3. The Quick Fix controls
      5m 22s
    4. Adjusting lighting in Quick Fix
      3m 46s
    5. Adjusting color in Quick Fix
      5m 39s
    6. Using the Touch Up tools in Quick Fix
      7m 40s
  7. 43m 43s
    1. Guided Edit basics
      8m 13s
    2. Making an Out of Bounds image
      10m 17s
    3. Perfecting a portrait
      7m 43s
    4. Adding realistic reflections
      5m 26s
    5. Applying a LOMO camera effect
      2m 0s
    6. Making pop art
      1m 31s
    7. Using Style Match
      8m 33s
  8. 1h 20m
    1. Full Edit workspace overview
      6m 51s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      4m 51s
    3. Using tools
      7m 40s
    4. Arranging panels
      5m 18s
    5. Setting preferences
      3m 41s
    6. Using Undo History
      6m 39s
    7. Zooming and navigating
      7m 4s
    8. Creating a blank file
      5m 19s
    9. Photo resizing and resolution
      8m 9s
    10. Cropping and straightening photos
      7m 15s
    11. Recomposing photos
      8m 15s
    12. Enlarging the canvas
      3m 27s
    13. Saving and formats
      5m 46s
  9. 35m 4s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 17s
    2. Working in the Layers panel
      5m 21s
    3. Using layer masks
      7m 43s
    4. Using layer masks to combine images
      6m 27s
    5. Building composites
      8m 16s
  10. 20m 58s
    1. Selection basics
      3m 22s
    2. Manual selection tools
      3m 19s
    3. Automatic selection tools
      7m 24s
    4. Refining selection edges
      3m 30s
    5. Saving selections
      3m 23s
  11. 1h 21m
    1. Color managing
      7m 14s
    2. Applying Shadow/Highlight adjustments
      2m 42s
    3. Using adjustment layers
      8m 24s
    4. Masking adjustment layers
      7m 38s
    5. Adding a Levels adjustment layer
      6m 8s
    6. Adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      5m 56s
    7. Adjusting with Color Curves
      4m 14s
    8. Removing a color cast
      3m 37s
    9. Reducing digital noise
      4m 7s
    10. Sharpening photos
      7m 32s
    11. Processing multiple files
      7m 59s
    12. Working with raw photos
      15m 57s
  12. 18m 34s
    1. Using the Smart Brush tools
      6m 16s
    2. Dodging and burning
      2m 29s
    3. Retouching blemishes
      4m 29s
    4. Content-aware healing
      2m 31s
    5. Removing content with the Clone Stamp tool
      2m 49s
  13. 25m 53s
    1. Applying filters
      5m 36s
    2. Adding effects
      2m 34s
    3. Using layer styles
      7m 23s
    4. Using shapes
      4m 46s
    5. Using the Cookie Cutter tool
      2m 19s
    6. Converting color to black and white
      3m 15s
  14. 11m 25s
    1. Creating text
      7m 1s
    2. Editing text
      4m 24s
  15. 1h 25m
    1. Creating a photo collage
      8m 38s
    2. Fine-tuning a photo collage
      8m 3s
    3. Creating greeting cards
      8m 34s
    4. Creating photo calendars
      9m 28s
    5. Creating CD/DVD jackets and labels
      7m 43s
    6. Creating a photo book
      7m 44s
    7. Fine-tuning a photo book
      7m 11s
    8. Creating a slideshow (Windows only)
      8m 0s
    9. Fine-tuning a slideshow (Windows only)
      3m 23s
    10. Creating a flip book (Windows only)
      2m 47s
    11. End to end: Making a scrapbook page
      8m 15s
    12. End to end: Completing a scrapbook page
      5m 24s
  16. 49m 27s
    1. Printing photos
      8m 38s
    2. Contact sheets and picture packages (Windows only)
      6m 40s
    3. Sharing photos by email
      6m 38s
    4. Sharing photos by Photo Mail (Windows only)
      5m 8s
    5. Sharing to Flickr and Facebook
      4m 43s
    6. Saving images for the web
      6m 48s
    7. Signing up for
      2m 55s
    8. Sharing online albums at
      5m 4s
    9. Backing up
      2m 53s
  17. 38s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training
11h 20m Beginner Nov 23, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Photoshop Elements 9 Essential Training, Jan Kabili highlights the key features of this comprehensive image organization and photo enhancement application. She shows how to correct and enhance photographs, and how to organize a growing collection of digital photos. The course also explains how to use photos in creative projects like photo books, calendars, and greeting cards, and how to share work online and in print. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Downloading files from a digital camera
  • Importing photos into an Elements catalog
  • Applying keyword tags
  • Organizing photos into albums and Smart Albums
  • Automatically adjusting photos in Quick Fix
  • Walking through Guided Edit photo techniques
  • Understanding photo resizing and resolution
  • Cropping and straightening photos
  • Making and refining selections
  • Correcting photos in the Full Edit workspace
  • Applying image sharpening
  • Adding text and special effects
  • Creating photo projects, such as greeting cards and calendars
Photoshop Elements Elements
Jan Kabili

Automatic selection tools

Often the quickest way to select an object is based on its color and tone. There are several tools in Elements 9 Full Edit workspace that do that for you automatically. My favorite of those is the Quick Selection tool which is located here in the toolbar. With this tool, I can click in the image and drag and the Quick Selection tool moves ahead of me finding other pixels of similar tone and color and selecting those and it's smart enough to be able to see where there's an edge to the object.

It's looking for areas of high contrast. By default, this tool will add to a selection. So after I make my initial selection, if I see some areas that I missed like this area right here, I can click and drag over it. Here is another area right up here. Now this tool seems to work better with a small brush tip. So I am going to make my brush tip smaller by pressing the Left Bracket key on my keyboard and then I'll move over these areas and add them to the selection as well.

If the tool selects something that I don't want to include in the selection, I can subtract to that area from the selection. To do that, I'll go up to the options bar and I'll choose the Subtract from selection icon, the one with a Minus sign on it. I'm going to zoom in so I can see this area better. I see there is just a tiny bit that I didn't want to include in the selection. I'll make brush tip even smaller by pressing the Left Bracket key and then I'll move over this area that I don't want to including in this selection and maybe right here as well.

Unfortunately, I found that the Quick Selection tool often makes a selection that has a jagged edge. That's because the Quick Selection tool, unlike other selection tools, doesn't do something called anti-aliasing, which means partially selecting some edge pixels to give a soft look to the edge of a selection. So often after I make a selection with the Quick Selection tool, I'll click the Refine Edge button in this options bar. I am going to show you how to use Refine Edge in a separate movie to soften and smooth out the edge of a selection.

There are a couple of other options for this tool that you should know about. One is Auto-Enhance. If you check Auto-Enhance before using this tool, you can often get a more accurate selection. But the downside is it will sometimes take a little longer to get that selection. Then if you're making a selection on a file that has multiple layers and you want the Quick Selection tool to take all the layers into account, you can check Sample All layers. There is another tool right behind the Quick Selection tool that I'll often use in conjunction with it and that is the Selection Brush tool.

The Selection Brush tool works a little differently than the Quick Selection tool. It allows me to paint in a selection exactly where I wanted. It doesn't go out and try to select for me on the basis of color and tone. So the Selection Brush tool is perfect for adding a hard-to-get-to area to an initial quick selection. Let's say I want to add this windshield wiper to my initial selection. By default, the Selection Brush tool adds to a selection as you can see up here in the options bar. So I can come in with this tool, I can make my brush tip really small by pressing the Left Bracket key and then I can just draw over this windshield wiper and that will add it to the initial selection as long as I have a steady hand.

If I don't and I go too far like this, I can go up to the options bar for the Selection Brush tool and set it to subtract from selection by clicking on this icon. Then I can come back in and I can fine tune what I've selected with the Selection Brush tool. Now I'm going to deselect by pressing Ctrl+D, that's Command+D on a Mac, and I'll zoom back out by double-clicking the Hand tool to fit the image in the window. I'd like to show you the Magic Wand tool which is located here in the toolbar.

I'm using the tool to start off with, with the default options in the options bar. I'll move into the image and I'll click somewhere on the truck and the magic wand looks at the pixel on which I clicked and tries to select other pixels of similar color and tone. By default, it will only select pixels that are next to one another; in other words contiguous pixels. If I want it to select more of the red on the truck, I can try unchecking Contiguous and I'll click on another red pixel here. But as you can see it's really hard to control exactly which pixels are selected by this tool.

Here it went pretty far a field and selected some reds and some similar tones and colors outside of the truck. At this point, I can use the Subtract from selection option up here in the options bar and I could try to click on just those colors that I didn't want to include in this selection. But in this case, that's actually making things worse. I could get another tool like the Selection Brush tool and try to modify the selection. But the point that I want you to see about the Magic Wand tool is that it is often difficult to control.

Another thing I can try is to deselect by pressing Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac and starting again with a different Tolerance level. The Tolerance level sets the number of levels of tone that are going to be selected on either side of the tone of the pixel on which I click. So if I want less to be selected, I can type a different number in the Tolerance field. The problem is you never know what number to type here, it's just a guess. So I'll try a Tolerance of 15 and see what happens if I click with Contiguous unchecked on a red area of the truck.

Now this time the Magic Wand tool did select less but I still don't have the selection that I want. Now that's not to say that the Magic Wand tool is useless, it sometimes is a useful tool particularly when I'm trying to select an area that's just solid in color. I'll deselect to show you one more tool that looks at tonal values to make a selection for me and that is the Magnetic Lasso tool which is located here with the other Lasso tools in the toolbar. I'll zoom into the image, take a look at the icon for the Magnetic Lasso tool and you can see that there is a little knot at the very tip of this tool.

I am going to set the end of that knot at the place where want to start my selection, right here in the corner of the windshield. I click there to set an anchor point and now I'm not pressing down at my mouse, I'm just moving the mouse around the windshield and the Magnetic Lasso tool is automatically setting down anchor points with lines between those anchor points creating the boundary of the selection. If I get to an area where I think there's not as much contrast as other areas, I can set my own anchor points by just clicking and if the tool sets an anchor point that I don't want like the anchor point that it just set on the windshield wiper, I can click once on the Delete key and that will remove that point and then I can move my hand back and continue in the direction that I do want to go.

Here I'll click to set a point at the corner and when I get back near the beginning, I can double-click and that will close the selection. So this is a good tool to use when you need to make a selection along an edge of high contrast like this one. These automatic selection tools can often save you time. The trick is, knowing which one is going to work best in which situation and that's really just a matter of practicing with the tools until you get a sense of which one will work best on what image.

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