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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.
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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