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In Photoshop CS5: Selections in Depth, author Jan Kabili offers a comprehensive tour of Photoshop CS5's selection features. Selection options are the key to performing creative imaging tasks, such as isolating photo adjustments and making image composites. This course covers selection basics as well as the nuances of selections, including selecting hair, refining masks, saving and recalling selections, working in Quick Mask mode, and creating selections based on image properties, such as luminosity and color channels. Exercise files are included with the course.
Another use for selections that you may not have thought of is that you can use selections to create graphics - graphics for the web or for other purposes. To show you how to do that, I'm going to make a brand-new file from scratch, going up to the File menu and choosing New, I will go to the Preset menu and choose web, and I will click OK. Here, I am going to start by creating a selection with the Marquee tool. I am going to click and drag to make the body of a simple pipe. I want to add a rounded end to this pipe, so I am going to go back to the toolbox, and I am going to select the Elliptical Marquee tool.
I will be adding to this selection, so I will go up to the Options bar and click the Add to selection icon. Then I will move into the image, and I will click and drag an oval that goes from the top to the bottom of the pipe, horizontally. With the mouse still held down, I will press my Spacebar, and I will move over to the left. When things are all lined up, I will release my mouse and release the Spacebar, and that created a bit of a concave end for this pipe. Now I am going to fill this selection with a gradient, and that should turn this relatively simple selection outline into an object that has a dimensional appearance.
I will click on the Gradient tool in the toolbox, then I will go up to the Options bar, and I will click on the gradient sample there to open the Gradient Editor. I am going to choose one of the preset gradients. I will click on this Copper gradient, and then I will customize the gradient by coming down to this Gradient bar and removing the two colors stops in the center of this bar. I will click on one of the stops and then drag to remove it, and I will do the same on this second stop. So now I have just a simple brown-to-lighter brown gradient.
I will click OK, and then I will go up to the Options bar, and I want to click on this icon for the Reflected Gradient style. I also want to Reverse the colors in the gradient so that the lighter color will be in the center of this pipe and the darker colors around the edges of the pipe. I will move into the horizontal center of the pipe, I will hold down the Shift key to constrain horizontal movement, and I will drag vertically. The direction and the length of this line determine what the gradient will look like when I release my mouse and release the Shift key.
I actually like that result. If I didn't like this result, I could just come in and draw that gradient line over again as many times as I want. Now I am going to deselect by pressing Command+D on the Mac, Ctrl+D on the PC. And you can see what the pipe looks like so far. Now I want to make a concave end over here on the left. So I will go back and get the Elliptical Marquee tool. I will move back down into the image, I will line up my cursor with the top of the pipe, and I will click and drag an oval.
When the bottom of the oval is aligned with the bottom of the pipe, with my mouse still held down, I will press the Spacebar and move over to the left, so that the oval is centered at the end of the pipe. And then I will release my mouse, and I will release the Spacebar. I am going to fill that elliptical selection with another gradient that will make it look like the inside of the pipe. So I will go back to the Gradient tool again in the toolbox. Again, I will click on the Gradient sample in the Options bar, and again, I am going to select the Copper Preset gradient.
This time I am going to leave it with all its stops and click OK. I will come back into the image, I will click in approximately the center of my oval selection, I will hold the Shift key to constrain horizontal movement, and I will drag vertically. And that makes the end of the pipe look like the inside of the pipe. If I don't like that result, I can always redraw that gradient, clicking in the center again and dragging up. This time I will drag a little bit longer line, and I like that result better. I am also going to add a stroke to this oval selection.
I will select a color for the stroke by holding down the I key to temporarily change my cursor to an eyedropper, and I will click here, and that sets my foreground color. And then I will go to to the Edit menu, down to Stroke. I will make a stroke that's about two pixels wide. I will leave everything else at its defaults, and I will click OK. Now I am going to deselect by pressing Command+D on the Mac, Ctrl+D on the PC. So, there is my pipe. Now this is a relatively simple object, but remember, I made this completely from scratch, using only a few selection boundaries and some gradients and a stroke.
There is a lot more that I could do to this pipe. For example, I could jump it up onto its own layer by making a rough selection around it and then choosing Layer > New > Layer via Copy, or using the keyboard shortcut Command+J or Ctrl+J. With the pipe on its own layer, I can use the new Puppet Warp feature to bend it. I will go to Edit > Puppet Warp, I will click to add some pins, and then I will click on one of those pins and drag to bend the pipe.
I will click on my center pin, and I will hold down the Option key to bring up the Rotate icon, and then I will move outside of that icon and drag to bend the pipe in the middle. When I am happy with the results, I will go up to the Options bar, and I will click the check mark there, and that commits that Warp. I can also see a copy of the pipe on the background layer below. To eliminate that, I will select the Background layer in the Layers panel. I have white as the background color in the toolbox, and so to fill the whole Background layer with white, I will press Command+Delete on the Mac; that's Ctrl+Backspace on the PC.
So those are some ideas for how you can use Selections to create graphics from scratch.
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