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Oftentimes you're going to want to work on an isolated area of an image without affecting the rest of the image. And that's where selections come into play. To show you what selections are, I'll make a simple selection using one of the many selection tools in Elements 9. I'm going to use the Rectangular Marquee tool from here in the toolbar. This tool is use to make rectangular and square-shaped selections. I'll come into the image and I'll click at one corner of this area and I'll drag diagonally down to the other corner. And then I'll release my mouse to create the selection boundary.
The animated dashed lines that define a selection boundary are called Marching Ants. Now whatever I do to the image is going to affect only the area inside the selection. For example, I happen to have Purple as my foreground color and if I paint with Purple the paint will land only in the selected area. I could use the regular Brush tool for that purpose, or the Color Replacement tool, which is basically the brush tool with a different blending mode. I'll move into the image and with a fairly large brush I'll start painting, and I don't have to be careful about where I move my brush, because the only area that will be painted is the area inside that selection.
What else can you do with the selection? One thing I commonly do is to fill a selection with color or pattern. To do that I'll go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and I'll choose Fill Selection. In the Fill layer dialog box that opens I'll choose what I'm going to use to fill this selection. I could use the color that's currently in the Foreground Color Box in my toolbar, or the color in the Background Color Box, or if I choose Color that opens the Color Picker and it allows me to pick whatever color I want, or I could choose Pattern.
I'm going to try that. I'll pick the Pattern that I want by clicking the arrow on the Custom Pattern area and I'm going to pick one of the psychedelic patterns that comes with Elements. Then I'll click in a blank area to close the Custom Pattern Picker. I'll go down to the Blending mode menu and I'll choose the formula that Elements will use to blend this pattern with the underlying color. I'll use the Color Blend mode, which retains the tones of the photograph below; and then I'll click OK. The point is that that pattern fills only the area inside the selection.
There are so many other things that I can do with a selection I can add a filter to just the selected area, I could move the selected area, or one thing that I often use a selection for is to isolate an area onto its own layer. So that I can move it or work on it separately from the rest of the image. To do that with the selection active I'll go to the layer menu at the top of the screen and choose New, and then either layer via Copy, or layer via Cut. I'll choose layer via Copy, and that will leave the selected area on the original background layer, but it will also create a new layer that contains just the selected area.
So if I make the Background layer invisible for a moment you can see the content of the brand-new layer that was just created for me. So those are just a few of the particular things that I could do with the selection, but the general take-home point is that you use a selection when you want to isolate part of an image to work on just that part without affecting the rest of the image.
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