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In Fireworks CS5 Essential Training, author Jim Babbage gives a detailed overview of Fireworks CS5, Adobe's software for creating and optimizing web graphics and interactive prototypes. This course includes a detailed tour of the interface, the enhanced PNG format, and the image editing toolset in Fireworks. Critical concepts, such as prototyping for HTML applications and working with symbols, the heart of an efficient workflow in Fireworks, are covered in detail. Exercise files are included with this course.
My friend and fellow Fireworks user Kim Cavanaugh has a saying, "To have an effect you must select." That's very true when you're working with bitmap images. All too often, you only want to alter part of a photo, not the entire thing. This is where Selection tools come in very handy. Take for instance, this image, a close shot of one of our cyclists. He is in pretty good shape, but the background is pretty washed out. So let's see how we can fix this. Now we are going to start by using our Magic Wand tool. The Magic Wand tool selects pixels based on color.
If you take a look down in the Properties panel, you'll see we've got a few settings to control how effective the Magic Wand is. We can set a Tolerance value. The default Tolerance is 32. No idea why, but that's the number. So we are going to start there and see how that does, for what we are doing. We can also set the Edge of the selection. We can choose Hard, Anti-aliased or Feather. I am going to switch to Anti-aliased here, so I get a slightly blended selection. We've also got this other neat little feature down here called Live Marquee.
Basically, what that allows us to do is change the impact of the selection after we've actually created it. So I am going to go in and select part of my sky. You'll see that I get a fair amount of the sky selected in one grab. Now, I am going to go down to my Tolerance Setting. Notice I've still got my Live Marquee applied. Now, I am going to type in a value of 54. You can see what happens right there. That increase in the Tolerance value has expanded the selection. So now we have got all the upper part of the sky selected.
Now, I am going to turnoff the Live Marquee, and I am going to set my Tolerance value to a lower value, about 28. And the reason I'm changing these values is I don't want to end up selecting parts of the cyclist. I only want to worry about selecting the actual background. So I am going to hold down my Shift key. When you hold down the Shift key with the Selection tool, you are able to add manually to an existing selection. So I am just going to click along that rib in the sky. There we go. And then down here in the water. You notice I missed a little tiny bit in there.
So I'll click one more time, maybe a couple of more times. That got pretty much all the sky and the water selected. I am going to add in, I think, that water that's there, same idea, just a couple of little selections. As long as I keep my finger held down on the Shift key, I'll constantly add to the selection. Now let's take a closer look at this selection overall. Take a look around his helmet. You might notice that it's kind of indented a bit around the selection area there. So I am going to choose my Zoom tool. I am going to zoom in on his face a little bit.
And sure enough, we actually got a little bit overzealous with our selection, the Magic Wand grabbed a bit of the helmet. So we are going to correct that. We are not going to correct it with the Magic Wand. We are going to use a different tool. This is one of the great things about Selection tools. You can start with one, and then pick up a different one as your needs change. So we are going to choose the Lasso tool, and this gives me the ability to draw a freehand selection. Rather than basing my selection on the color of pixels like the Magic Wand does, this basically is me drawing a selection. In this case, I want to get rid of part of the selection.
So I want to subtract from the existing selection. So I am going to hold down my Alt key. Now if you are on the Mac, you'll hold down the Option key. I'll just drag around that area that I want to exclude from the selection. You can see, fairly quickly, we can get much more accurate with our selection, just by taking a little bit of time and drawing that selection around. So I am going to zoom back out again. So Ctrl+Minus or Command+Minus. Let's see if we have anything else to worry ourselves over. Looks like the helmet has a little bit of a problem higher up. Yes it does, right in there.
So we will make an adjustment there as well. So I'll zoom in again, and I'll grab my Lasso tool. Again, holding down the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, I'll start to subtract from that selection. Now, don't worry about getting it all in one go. You can see I'm not trying to get the whole thing at once. It is a fair distance to cover with a mouse, and when you're drawing with a mouse it's kind of like drawing with a brick sometimes. So take your time and just go at it gradually. You can always come back and add to what you're doing later on, here we go.
That's not too bad. We have got some of his hair still not part of the selection. So again, I can go ahead and add to that. Now one thing I didn't catch when I was using the Lasso tool. Take a look down in the Properties panel. I forgot to change it from a Hard Edge to an Anti-aliased Edge. So I am going to change that now, so that I don't run into any real weird edges going around on the hair areas. So again, I am going to hold down my Alt key, and I am just going to draw and try to get some of this hair in here too, something along that line.
Just so we get a little bit of that happening in there. I could also try the Magic Wand with this too to see what we pick up, but the tones are so similar between the hair and the sky, I think I'd probably get myself more trouble than I want. So there we go. I'll zoom out a bit more, and overall that's not too, too bad. Now, what I've selected here is just the sky, and I want to make a couple of changes to that background, darken it down, make it a little richer. Before I do that though, I just want to do one more thing with my selection, and that's I want to smooth out the selection a bit, so I don't run into any hard definition edges around the cyclist himself.
So I am going to go up to my Select menu, and choose Feather. I am going to set a Feather selection of about 4 pixels, just to give me a little bit of soft blend around the selection edges, and I'll click OK. And you may not notice too much difference going on with the selection because that's not a lot that we made a change for. Then I am going to go to my Filters menu, and I am going to choose Adjust Color and select the Levels. I will be talking more about Levels as we go, but the Levels panel gives you a chart showing you basically the range of tones from light to dark, shadows over here on the left, mid-tones in the middle, highlights on the right.
So I am just going to play around with my shadows a little bit and also my mid tones. You can see I don't want to have a major, major effect. I just want to make a slight difference to that background. So the change doesn't have to be incredibly noticeable. It just has to be enough that you feel it's adding to the image. There we go. So if I deselect the Preview for a minute, that's the original sky. That's the new sky. So I am basically darkening down the sky without having any impact on the cyclist or anything else in the foreground outside of the selection.
So I am going to click OK. That looks pretty good. One more thing I want to do with this though is I've got this selection. It took me a few minutes to put together, and I may need to call on it again. So rather than have to draw the whole thing again, I'm going to go into my Select menu, and I am going to save this selection. So I have got an option down here near the bottom of the menu, Save Bitmap Selection. I am going to name this Sky, and click OK. So that means that if, by accident, I click somewhere and lose my selection, I can go back to my Select menu and choose Restore Bitmap Selection.
I only have one to choose from, but I could choose from any that were in this list. And automatically once that one is selected, it comes in and reappears on the image. Now one little caveat with adding selections to your images: If you're going to save your bitmap selections, you are going to have to save the file as a Fireworks PNG file. So that information can be stored with the image. Even though we may not have the same extensive range of Selection tools that Photoshop has, we've got a pretty solid set, and with a little practice, you can get quite adept with them.
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