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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'll show you how to create a graduated selection outline, one that fades in a single direction, in our case from bottom to top. I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Moon on sky.psd, found inside the 08 selections folder, and I'm going to switch over to this image, The wide road.jpg. And what I want to do is I want to select from about here in the sky, downward and I want the selection to fade in. So the sky will fade in and in the road will be entirely selected. So we'll start off by grabbing the Rectangular Marquee tool.
And then, I'm going to zoom out from the image, like so, and I'll drag about here, in order to select this region of the image. So we want to select about an inch of sky. And I know there's no way for me to say an inch of sky, because you could be zoomed in or zoomed out. Your screen could be any old resolution, but about that much sky and the road, like so, and then release. Now, at this point we have a hard edge selection, and the Rectangular Marquee tool doesn't require any anti-aliasing, the way the Elliptical Marquee tool does, because it can select entire pixels or deselect entire pixels, because pixels are square and what we've drawn here is a rectangle.
So this is going to be a very hard-edged selection. I want it to fade inward from the sky down, and we're going to achieve this effect, once again, using the Feather Command. So when you're selected all the way out to the edges, as we are here, the edges are not affected by Feather, just the top of the selection is. When we're tight to the edges of the image, as we are right now, to the left, bottom, and right sides of the image, only the portion of the outline that's inside the image, which is the top edge, gets feathered. So I'm going go up to the Select menu, choose the Modify Command and choose Feather, Ctrl+Alt+D or Command+Option+ D if you have loaded DekeKeys, and then I'm going to change this Radius value, not to 2 pixels but to 120 pixels, so that it fades in over the course of more than 200 pixels, because it goes 120 out and 120 in, and then click OK. And of course it doesn't look any different, does it? Because again, we're working with marching ants, which don't do a very good job of showing us what we're doing.
However, you can confirm the Feather by going up once again to the Move tool, pressing Ctrl+H, or Command+H on the Mac, to hide that selection outline, and then dragging the selection upward like so, and now you can see that you have a feathered edge. And notice that we've kind of double- selected the mountains in this case, because I feathered the mountains into the selection and out of the selection, ever so slightly. Now, we once again have a floating selection, so you don't want it to drop, and I'll show you what I mean by drop.
If I were to switch to a different tool, like the Marquee tool for a moment, and I were to just click with that tool, go to the History panel and notice that you'll see a new operation, Deselect, and that shows me that I just deselected the image as simply as clicking with the tool. And now, if I try to drag the image around the Move tool, I'll get an error message that tells me that the layer is locked, because it's a background layer. It's automatically locked. So I click OK. And then of course you would look at this and say, oh my goodness, I dropped my image and it broke.
So how do I restore the image as it was with selection outline intact? Go to the History panel and click on the state right before move. So in my case it would be the Feather state, in order to restore the selection outline to its former location. And presumably, at this point, you'd want to make sure that your selection outline is still intact, so you'd press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac. Now, this can sometimes happen. It always invokes a little bit of panic for me. You press Ctrl+H or Command+H and the selection outline doesn't come back. So you assume something must have gone terribly wrong inside the History panel and you lost your selection.
But there are the states. You open the image, you drew a Rectangular Marquee and then you feathered it. So it must be there. Well, here is what you need to do. Go to the View menu, and you'll see, if you're like me, that Extras is checked. So you did turn on the Extras Command, what gives? Well then you go down to the Show submenu, and you'll see that Selection Edges, for whatever reason has not come back. So go ahead and choose the Selection Edges, and you will once again see them inside of the Image Window and hopefully breathe a big sigh of relief.
In the next exercise, I'm going to show you yet another way to drag and drop this image into its new background.
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