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In Photoshop Elements 6 for Mac Essential Training, Ted LoCascio teaches casual photographers how to organize, edit, and share their digital image libraries using this powerful software package from Adobe. He tours the included Adobe Bridge application, used for importing and organizing photographs, and explores every feature of Elements itself. He demonstrates how to navigate the Elements workspace, which is used to correct and improve images, combine them into projects, and produce slideshows, photo books, web galleries, and more. Ted also explains how to get the most out of each editing mode, and shares tips for correcting, retouching, and sharpening photographs. Example files accompany the course.
Anytime you make a complicated selection, you should always save it so that you can refer to it later if necessary. Doing so can prevent you from having to spend time repeatedly making the same selection. Let's take a look at how you can save and load selections in Elements 6. I'm currently in the Bridge application, and what I would like to do is select this image right here, bird_in_flight. We're actually in our catalog images folder. Here in our exercise files these are all the images inside of that folder. Because we're viewing these sorted by filename, as you can see here in the Filter panel. In alphabetical order we have bird_in_flight here up near the top.
So I want to select that image by clicking on it. Let's go and just double-click on it to open it up here in Photoshop Elements. So what I would like to do is make a selection of this bird_in_flight, and to do that the best tool would be the Quick Selection tool. That's the best tool for making this kind of complicated selection. However, even though the Quick Selection tool is incredibly powerful and usually does a great job, it can still get tripped up and this is one instance where it's going to. I will show you what I mean.
When I'm looking at this and I'm seeing all the solid color surrounding the object that I want to select, I'm thinking the best thing to do would probably be try and select the background first and then inverse it so that we then have a selection of our object, which would be the bird. So let's go ahead and try that. I'm going to increase the size of the brush, because the larger the brush is the further it's going to reach into our image and look for areas of high contrast. So with a pretty large brush now I'm just going to click and drag over here on the left of the bird and then click and drag on the right of the bird.
Now let's take a look at what happened. We have all of the water selected around here and it's selected around the wings fairly well, but because there are some blurred areas over here on the right, we can see that it didn't quite get every little last detail around those wings. It also completely missed its head and its legs. So that's a bit of a problem. We also have this little stone area over here. I'm going to go ahead and just click over there to add that to the selection to bypass that problem. So we still have some issues here. We need to clean this up. So what I'm going to do next is inverse the selection. Select Inverse, and now add to the areas that it missed. So we're going to do some editing.
So this is somewhat complicated, more complicated than what I normally would like a quick selection to be, but sometimes depending on what it is you're trying to select, this is what can happen. So it doesn't always work perfect every time. Let's go ahead and hold down the Command key and the Spacebar, that allows us to temporarily access the Zoom tool, then I'm clicking and dragging over the head of the bird. That's going to allow me to zoom right in on that area. Now my brush is way too big. If I click now, it's going to add it to the selection and then add some of the water surrounding it as well. So that's way too much.
You always want your brush size sort of match the area that you're trying to select. So I'm going to decrease the brush size on the fly using the left bracket key. Just hit that a few times until it's starting to fit in the area that I want to select. Then I'm going to click and drag. Resizing again to fit the beak. Click, click, resizing, click, resizing, click and that's not too bad, looking pretty good. Right now with this small brush here I'm going to click and drag down at the bottom here in the shadow areas that it missed. The reason it missed it is because the shadow areas are very similar in tonality to the surrounding water.
Look, underneath it's hard to even see the definition, let alone for the tool to recognize any kind of contrast. There is just not a lot of contrast there for it to recognize. So we're giving the tool little bit of help here. Going around the bird, around the bottom edge. Looks like we went a little too far up. It fixed itself. That's great. Let's go ahead and try and get these legs. Again, the brush is sized really well. It's matching the area that we want to select. If it were too large, it would creep in. Now there it crept into the surrounding water.
That's okay. For now I'm just going to go ahead and just try and get his feet first and then we will fix that later. Clicking and dragging, clicking down here, adding this extra area that is missing, giving it some help. It's not seeing the area of contrast. It's just not enough. Now what we can try and do is make the brush a little smaller, hold down the Option key and click in that area of water in between his legs. You can see how it's just really struggling, but it's getting it, just barely getting it.
If it gets to where it's too complicated, this is just not happening for you, you can default to the Lasso tool. This is where the Lasso tool is still a useful selection tool. I can add to my selection now with the Lasso tool by holding down the Shift key and you can see the cursor change. Now it has a + symbol next to it. Then if I click and drag loosely over the area that I want to add, it adds it to the quick selection, which is nice. I like being able to do this. I can refine my selection. I would not want to select the whole image this way, but I can refine it and get it very, very detailed using the Lasso, just fine-tuning things here.
I'm not saying that you should go ahead and trace the entire bird with the Lasso. Let's fit in window again. Command+0. Now let's take a look at these wings. Let's clean those up. I think I'm just going to use a Lasso tool. Rather than trying to edit with the Quick Selection tool, I'm just going to go ahead and use the Lasso tool. I'm holding down the Shift key and drawing over those areas. If I want to subtract I hold down the Option key and click and drag. Very detailed. Very, very detailed selection what we're making here. Holding down the Shift key, trying to fix that up, and again holding down the Shift key. I'm not going to worry about that one wing right there, because it is so out of focus that I don't think it's even going to matter if we should ever use this selection if wanted to extract the bird or if we wanted to make an adjustment to the selected area. It's really not going to matter. It's just so out of focus.
Maybe that feather there. Ops! Didn't quite get it. You've got be careful when you're tracing. That's one thing. That's the only tough part about doing this with the Lasso tool. That helps, you can zoom in even further, again Command+Spacebar to access that tool quickly. All right, that's looking good. I'm not going to get too crazy here. It doesn't have to be quite that detailed. That looks pretty good to me. Pretty decent selection! Now that we have made this complicated selection, you don't ever want to have to go through all that again, because that is way too much effort. So what we're going to do is save it, definitely save it. Let's go under the Select menu, choose Save Selection. As soon as you're done with it, definitely do this. Work smart; not hard. That's what I say.
New selection is what we're creating. We're going to name it Bird or something like that. Make sure it's a new selection down here. We don't have any other selections. So we're not going to say add to or subtract anything like that. Click OK. We now have this saved. It's actually saved in what's called the channel. We're going to go ahead and deselect. Command+D, oh no where is that selection? Oh! Don't worry, we have it saved. We can bring it back. Let's go under Select, Load Selection. There is it. If you click on this menu here, it would show you if you had other saved selections, it would show them in a list.
Since we only have one, there is only one in there. If you wanted to invert the selection, you can go ahead and just do it now rather than applying the command later. I'm not going to do that now, but it's nice to have this option. Then we're going to click OK. There it is. So that's the beauty of saving selections. You only have to do all that work once. Then save it and you can refer to that selection any time you need to. Now that I have this selection I can apply an adjustment to adjust the bird, because it's the selected item. I can refine the selection edge if I needed to.
I could extract the bird, place it on a different background. I could use it in a collage and combine it with other images. These are all the kinds of things you can do with the selection. It's just great to know that we don't have to make that complicated selection every time we want to work with this image. Make it once and then save it.
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