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Photoshop Elements 7 is packed with features to help amateur photographers with every stage of digital photo processing, from getting organized to sharing projects with family and friends. In Photoshop Elements 7 for Windows Essential Training, Jan Kabili shares workflow techniques for organizing, editing, creating projects, and sharing. She also demonstrates how to enhance photos with this budget-friendly software. Jan explains the latest updates to the Organizer and Editor workspaces, and also covers new features like the Smart Brush tool and Photoshop.com integration. Elements is very well known for its project features, and Jan shows how to create books, collages, panoramas, and more. Example 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. For this movie, I have opened two files, bookcliffs.jpg and dog3.jpg from the 08_03 automatic tools sub-folder inside the Chapter 8 exercise files. Let's say I want to select the sky in this image, so that I can adjust it without selecting the cliffs in the foreground. I might try the Magic Wand tool, which is located here in the Toolbox. With that tool selected, I'm going to come into my image, and I'm going to click on the sky. I'll click up here in the top left corner, where the sky is a bit darker than in the rest of the image. The Magic Wand tool looks at the color and tone of the pixel upon which you click, and then selects a range of similar color and tone. You can see it didn't a very good job in this image, and that's the problem with using the Magic Wand. It's hard to predict exactly what it's going to select.
If the Magic Wand is not successful in selecting the entire area that you desire, then there are several things that you can try. I'm going to press Ctrl+D to eliminate this selection, and I'm going to go up to the Options bar for the Magic Wand, and I'm going to unclick contiguous there. Contiguous means adjacent to or touching. With contiguous checked, the Magic Wand will only select pixels that are next to one another. With contiguous unchecked, I think I have a better chance of selecting various areas of the sky. Let's take a look. I'll try again clicking in the top left here, and I did select more of the sky, but not enough. So again, I'll press Ctrl+D to deselect, and I'm going to try something else.
The tolerance determines the range of pixels that the Magic Wand selects. By default it's set to 32. I'm going to try setting the tolerance to a larger number. By clicking and dragging over 32, pressing delete, and just a guess, I'll try 50, and now I'm going to come in and click again in the upper left, and sure enough that did the trick. But as you can see, there is a lot of guesswork involved in using the Magic Wand. So let me show you another tool that often does a better job, and that is the quick selection tool. I'm going to press Ctrl+D to deselect, and I'm going to bring up another image to show you this tool. That's dog3.jpg, which is down here in my project bin, I'll double click that, and then I'm going to go to the tool box, and I'm going to select the quick selection tool.
The quick selection tool also looks at color and tone. Before I use it, I'm going to change the size of this brush tip to make it a bit smaller, and then I'm going to start clicking and dragging in this dark red area of the floor, and as I drag, the quick selection brush goes ahead of me, and tries to anticipate what I'm trying to select, based on color and tone. Now here it went a little too far, and instead of selecting just the floor, it also selected part of the dog's foot, but I can get rid of that very easily, by going to the Options bar at the top of the screen, and pressing the minus option here, and then coming in, and dragging over the dog's leg. That deletes that part of the selection, giving me just the selected area that I want. If I want to add to this selection, I'll go back to Options bar, and I'll press the option with the plus sign on it, and then I can come in and drag in this area, and select some more. If I come up here and drag, it goes a bit too far. So I'll go back up to the Options bar, select the minus sign, and come in here and making my brush small, so that it fits right in that area, I'll draw over the dog's ear, to delete that from the selection.
Let's see what happens if I fill in the selected areas with a color. I'm going to go the edit menu at the top of the screen and down to fill selection, and I'll click on use, and I'm going to choose white, and I'll click OK. Then I'm going to hide the selection temporarily, by pressing the Ctrl key and the H key, Ctrl+H, because I want to show you that the edges of the selection are quite rough, it just don't look right. One way to fix that is to use the refine edge commands accessible from the Options bar of any of the selection tools.
Let me show you how they work. First I'm going to undo the fill by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Z. Then I'm going to bring back that selection, by pressing Ctrl+H, which hides or shows temporarily. I can control the edges of the selection by accessing the refine edge dialog box. I can get there by clicking the refine edge button, which appears in the Options bar for any of the selection tools. I'll click there, and that opens refine edge. In the refine edge dialog box, I'm going to click this red button, and that is going to show me another view of my selection. Instead of the marching ants that you see here, which tell me nothing about how smooth or soft the edge of selection is.
When I click to red box, I see a red mask on top of the areas that are not selected, and this gives me a visual interpretation of what the edge of that selection looks like. So keep your eye here on the top of the dog, as I come up to the controls in the refine edge dialog box and move them. I'll start with the feather control. Feather actually blurs the edge of a selection, making it softer. As I drag the feather control to the right, you can see the edge of that selection get much softer, that's way too much. I'm going to go back, so we have just a subtle, soft blur on the edge of the selection. The smooth control smoothes out a jagged selection, and the contracted expand control makes a selection either bigger or smaller. I'm going to click OK, to go back to the regular view of the selection. And now let's see what happens, if I fill this selection, by going to the edit menu, down to fill selection, and I fill it with white again, and then I'll delete my selection by pressing Ctrl+D, and you see that we have a much softer, more realistic looking edge, than we had before we used the refine edge controls.
So those are just a couple of the automatic selection tools that you find in Elements. You can see that they make the job of selecting complex areas a lot easier than it would be with manual tools.
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