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Why use selections?

From: Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos

Video: Why use selections?

The purpose of making a selection is to isolate part of a layer, so that your edits affect just that portion of the content on the selected layer. There are lot's of ways to select, which we'll explore in this chapter, but first I want to make sure you understand what selections are for, so I would like to show you a few examples. I'm going to click on one of the simpler selection tools, the Rectangular Marquee tool here in the toolbar; you can use this tool to make a selection in the shape of a rectangle or square. I'm going to select this area in the front of the mailbox by clicking on the top left corner of that area and dragging down diagonally toward the bottom right corner.

Why use selections?

The purpose of making a selection is to isolate part of a layer, so that your edits affect just that portion of the content on the selected layer. There are lot's of ways to select, which we'll explore in this chapter, but first I want to make sure you understand what selections are for, so I would like to show you a few examples. I'm going to click on one of the simpler selection tools, the Rectangular Marquee tool here in the toolbar; you can use this tool to make a selection in the shape of a rectangle or square. I'm going to select this area in the front of the mailbox by clicking on the top left corner of that area and dragging down diagonally toward the bottom right corner.

I'm not going to even try to make a perfect selection here, I just want you to get the general sense of what selections do. So I will release my mouse and now you can see the animated dash is called marching ants that define the boundary of a selection. Whatever edits I make now will affect only the area inside the selection on whatever layer is selected in the Layers panel, take a look at the Layers panel and you see that there is a photograph on the mailbox layer and underneath that is a plain white layer. I'd like to make a change to the mailbox, so I'll select the mailbox layer here.

But I'm going to go over to the toolbar and I'll get my Brush tool. I happen to have blue as my foreground color; you can click in the foreground color box and choose any color you want from the color picker. I'll go to the Mode menu in the Options bar for the Brush tool; and I'm going to change that from Normal, which would lay down a solid paint; to Color, which will lay down paint but still allow the pattern on this mailbox to show through. And then I'll move into the image. I see that my brush tip is a little small, so I'll go back to the Options bar and drag the Size slider over to the right.

Now notice that if I try to paint outside of the selection, nothing happens that's because my edits will only take place inside the selection. So even if I'm sloppy about painting and I start way out here and then drag over the selection the paint is laid down only inside of the selection borders. So that's just one example, let me give you another. Sometimes I'll select an area that I want to delete from a photo, for example, I may have a really plain sky and I'd like to delete the sky so that I can see down through to a more interesting sky that I've put on the layer below.

Now in this case I do have the layer below the mailbox it's a layer that contains pure white. So, let's see what happens when I try to delete the selected area on the mailbox layer. I'll press the Backspace key on my keyboard, or the Delete key on a Mac keyboard, and that deletes the selected area of the mailbox layer, so we can see down through to the white on the layer below. I am going to make the white layer temporarily invisible by clicking its eye icon. So you can see that the pixels on the mailbox layer are now gone and behind them with the white layer invisible, there is just this gray in my checkerboard that represents transparency.

I'll give you one more example. When I make a selection, I can fill the selected area with either a color or pattern. To do that, I'll go up to the Edit menu and I'll go down to Fill. Notice that what is normally a Fill Layer command has changed to a Fill Selection command. That's because I have a selection active. I can see the marching ants going around the selection. So I'll choose Fill Selection, and that opens the Fill Layer dialog box. Here I'm going to choose to use not a color, but rather a pattern to fill with.

I don't like the default pattern, so I'll click the arrow to the right of the Custom Pattern field and I'm going to scroll down and find another pattern. I think I'll go with this optical pattern. I'll click in a blank area of this dialog box to close the pattern picker and then I'm going to click OK. And that fills the selected area with this repeating pattern. I still had my marching ants going; you can see them around the edge of that optical pattern. So to delete the selection I'll come up to the Select menu and I could choose Deselect, but this is a keyboard shortcut you'll use so often that I suggest you memorize it; and that is Ctrl+D on the PC or Command+D on the Mac to deselect a selection.

Now the marching ants are gone and any edit that I make, like painting with my Brush tool, is no longer limited to the area inside of the selection. So those are some examples of why you might use a selection, stick with me for the rest of this chapter to learn more about creating selections and their cousin's masks.

Show transcript

This video is part of

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  1. 6m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
    3. Overview of the editing workspaces
      3m 34s
  2. 43m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 21s
    2. Making the most of the tools in Elements
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging the panels
      4m 32s
    4. Zooming and panning
      4m 3s
    5. Viewing multiple photos
      3m 51s
    6. Undoing
      5m 15s
    7. Cropping
      3m 46s
    8. Resizing
      7m 18s
    9. Saving images and examining formats
      6m 2s
  3. 19m 23s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 59s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      4m 33s
    3. Creating new layers
      6m 51s
  4. 38m 28s
    1. Why use selections?
      4m 20s
    2. Selecting with the marquee tools
      3m 56s
    3. Selecting with the lasso tools
      6m 40s
    4. Selecting by color and tone
      6m 22s
    5. Refining a selection
      4m 51s
    6. Selecting hair
      5m 42s
    7. Hiding content with a layer mask
      6m 37s
  5. 46m 54s
    1. Why use adjustment layers?
      5m 15s
    2. Adjusting color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 32s
    3. Correcting lighting with a Levels adjustment layer
      3m 32s
    4. Adjusting part of an image with an adjustment layer
      5m 19s
    5. Exploring auto adjustments
      3m 55s
    6. Improving shadows and highlights
      2m 14s
    7. Removing a color cast
      1m 47s
    8. Fine-tuning with Color Curves
      3m 16s
    9. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    10. Correcting camera distortion
      5m 32s
    11. Reducing noise
      2m 56s
    12. Sharpening
      6m 10s
  6. 20m 51s
    1. Creating a panorama
      5m 6s
    2. Merging bracketed exposures
      6m 0s
    3. Removing people from a scene
      5m 25s
    4. Combining group shots
      4m 20s
  7. 29m 24s
    1. Removing blemishes
      3m 42s
    2. Reducing wrinkles and circles
      4m 16s
    3. Enhancing eyes
      5m 19s
    4. Removing red-eye
      3m 15s
    5. Adjusting skin tone
      2m 21s
    6. Removing dust spots
      4m 7s
    7. Removing content
      6m 24s
  8. 52m 36s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      5m 18s
    2. Using the latest Camera Raw controls
      3m 16s
    3. Camera Raw basics
      6m 22s
    4. Making use of the histogram
      3m 45s
    5. Setting white balance
      3m 44s
    6. Adjusting lighting
      4m 28s
    7. Adjusting color saturation
      2m 9s
    8. Cropping and straightening
      3m 58s
    9. Reducing noise
      3m 33s
    10. Sharpening
      3m 38s
    11. Synchronizing edits to multiple photos
      3m 36s
    12. Outputting from Camera Raw
      6m 14s
    13. Using Camera Raw with JPEGs
      2m 35s
  9. 48s
    1. Next steps
      48s

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