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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.
Many of the selection tools come with options that you can use to combine selections in various ways. You can create a compound selection by adding to a selection, subtracting from a selection, or intersecting with a selection. When you do that, you can use one or more selection tools. I am going to start with the Rectangular Marquee tool, and I'll use that tool to select this area of wall on the right side of the image, by clicking and dragging. Now, let's say that I decide I want to add this freeze to my initial selection of the wall.
I'll go up to the Options bar for the Rectangular Marquee tool, and there I see a set of four icons: the New selection icon, the Add to selection icon, the Subtract from selection icon, and the Intersect with selection icon. These same four icons are available for each one of the Marquee tools, for each one of the Lasso tools, and in this group, for the Magic Wand tool. I'll go back to the Rectangular Marquee tool, and in this case I want to Add to the selection.
So, I'm going to click on the second icon here, and then I'll move into the image, and I'll click and drag over that freeze to add that portion to the initial selection. To be honest, I very rarely go all the way up to the Options bar to choose the Add to selection icon; instead, I usually leave the default icon, the New selection icon, enabled here in the Options bar, and I'll add to the selection by using a keyboard shortcut. That shortcut is to hold the Shift key as I drag over an area of the image.
So, with the Shift key held down, I'll include this portion of the wall in my selection as well. Now, I am not limited to including contiguous or adjacent areas in the selection. I can add a non-adjacent area to a selection too, like this area over here on the left, and I am not limited to using just one selection tool as I build a compound selection. So in this case I can see that a rectangular selection tool isn't going to do very well in this area because there is a slanted line at this edge of the wall.
So I'm going to choose another tool, the Polygonal Lasso tool, and with that tool, I go up to the Options bar, and I'll click the Add to selection icon. I need to use the icon in this case because if I hold the Shift key while using the Polygonal Lasso tool, that tool will draw only vertical and horizontal lines. I know that I need a line that's a little bit at an angle to select this wall. So with the Add to selection icon selected in the Options bar for the Polygonal Lasso tool, I'll move into the image, and I'll click to add my first anchor point here, and then I'll move down to the bottom of the wall, and I'll click in the canvas just beneath the wall in order to include the entire area of the wall in my selection.
I'll move over to this corner and click just outside of it, I'll move up here and click just to the left of this portion of the wall, and then I'll come in and click here. In between clicks, I'm not holding my mouse down, because the Polygonal Lasso tool works by setting down anchor points, not by clicking and dragging out selection boundaries. When I get back to the beginning of my selection, I'll double-click, and I'll press the Escape key to release the Polygonal Lasso tool.
So there are some techniques for using the Add to selection option. Now let's see how to subtract from a selection. I am going to delete this selection by pressing Command+D on the Mac or Ctrl+D on the PC. Again, using the Polygonal Lasso tool, I am going to click at this corner of these colored tiles and then move down to the bottom of the image and click just to the bottom of the colored tiles. I'll move over to the right and click to the bottom-right of the colored tiles. I'll move up to this corner and click. I'll move here and click, and I am just clicking all around the colored tiles, like this.
When I get back to the beginning of my selection, I'll double-click and press the Escape key. Let's say that I change my mind and decide that I don't want this center portion of tiles included in this selection. I am going to subtract that area from the selection, and to do that, I'll move up to the Options bar for the Polygonal Lasso tool, and I'll click on this icon, the Subtract from selection icon, or alternatively, I could press the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on the PC as I select the area that I want to subtract from my initial selection.
I am not going to move into the image and select the area to subtract. I'll set an initial anchor point by clicking with the Polygonal Lasso here, and then, without holding my mouse down, I'll move to the bottom of the image and click here to set another anchor point, here to set another, and another, and when I get back toward the beginning of the selection, I'll double-click, and then I'll press the Escape key to release the Polygonal Lasso tool. And that has eliminated the central portion from the initial selection.
I am going to deselect by pressing Command+D on the Mac or Ctrl+D on the PC. Now, let's take a look at the intersect with Selection option. To show you that, I am going to use another tool, the Magic Wand tool, to make an initial selection of the sky. Before I click to make that selection, I'll go up to the Options bar for the Magic Wand tool and uncheck Contiguous, so that I can get the entire sky in my selection. I'll click over here on the left side of the sky, and that does select the right side as well, based on the color and tone of the pixel that I clicked on; however, I've also selected some extraneous area down here at the bottom of the colored tiles.
If I want to limit my selection to just these two areas up here, I can use the Intersect with selection option with another tool, like the Rectangular Marquee tool. I'll click on the Rectangular Marquee tool in the toolbox, and then I'll go up to its Options bar, and I'll click on Intersect with selection, and by the way, the shortcut for this option is to hold the Shift+Option key on the Mac or the Shift+Alt key on the PC. Now, with the Rectangular Marquee tool, I'll click and drag a large, rough rectangular selection around all the areas where I want to retain my initial selection, but not around the area where I want to eliminate the initial selection, down at the bottom of the colored tiles.
And when I do that, that's exactly the result that I get. The sky remains selected on both sides, but these colored tiles here are no longer selected. By the way, there is one caveat about using the combination icons up here in the Options bar for any of the selection tools, and that is that these icons are sticky. So that's a reason to consider using the combination shortcuts rather than clicking on the combination icons in the Options bar. So now you have seen how you can modify a selection, using the Add to, Subtract from, and Intersect with options. Or you could even use those options to build a complex selection that you can then fill with color and make into a graphic that you've created from scratch, as I showed you how to do earlier in this course in the chapter on Why Make Selections?
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