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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, we are going to select the moon using the Elliptical Marquee tool. I've gone ahead and saved my Sky with guide as Sky with guide.jpg, found inside the 08_selections folder. It does have a guideline down the center of it. If you don't see that guideline, it's because it's hidden. So you would press Ctrl+Semicolon, or Command+Semicolon on the Mac, to bring it back. Alright. Let's switch over to Full moon.jpg found inside the 08_selections folder as well. Now, when you see a central subject like this one, set against a plain background, whether white or black or some other color, it's very tempting to go at it using one of the automated selection tools, whether the Quick Selection tool or the Magic Wand tool.
The problem with both of these tools is that they generate fairly ratty selection outlines. That is jagged and sort of squarish as well. That's not going to work out for our nicely contoured rounded moon shape right here. So we might as well use a tool that's going to give us great rounded results, like this one here, the Elliptical Marquee tool. It's also very easy to use, very flexible. You can select it from the Marquee tool slot. You can press the M key a of couple times to get to it, or let me show you another trick where these tools are concerned.
You can press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click on a slot in order to cycle between its tools. So I eventually cycled back in that case to the Elliptical Marquee tool. Here are a few ways to use the tool inside of Photoshop. Obviously you just start dragging with it in order to create an elliptical selection. If you press and hold the Shift key as you're drawing, not before, but as you're drawing, then you will constrain that ellipse to a perfect circle. You have got to keep the Shift key down until you complete the shape, incidentally.
You can also press the Spacebar in order to move the shape on the fly, which helps you to align the selection exactly to the moon. I will show you something else you can do. I went ahead and released there. I now have a circular selection for whatever that's worth. I can either press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to get rid of it. Or I just click with a tool in order to deselect as well. Alright, another way to work with this tool is to draw the selection from the center outward. So start by positioning your cursor in the approximate center of the moon.
Obviously we haven't marked this one with the guide. I am not sure that the moon is exactly centered inside this image. But start at the approximate center there, start dragging, like so. Then press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and keep it down. Notice that you will then draw the selection from the center outwards. So you have got to have that key held down. If you release it, you go back to the corner-to-corner metaphor there. Anyway, keep Alt or Option down if you are working along with me. Also hold the Shift key. So I've got Shift and Alt pressed at this point.
Then finally, you want to select inward in the shape a little bit. In other words, I don't want you to go out into the black area, I want you to stay well inside the moon. I am not really centered at this point. So I am going to have to press the Spacebar, like so. So that means I have Shift, Alt, and Spacebar all down together. That would be Shift, Option and Spacebar down on the Mac, until I get things aligned properly and then I can release the Spacebar. Then I'll go outside the moon just a little bit to make sure I'm centered, which I am. It looks pretty good. Then I will come back in, like so.
Then I'll release the mouse button, and then I'll release Shift and Alt, or Shift and Option on the Mac. So it's important you keep those keys held down until you are done, with the exception of the Spacebar. The Spacebar is the kind of thing you press and release and press and release as you work. Alright, so we have got the selection outline where we want it. If you want to move it, if it's not quite aligned the way you hoped, then you can actually just drag it independently of the image using any one of the Selection tools. If you put it in the wrong location, like I have, then you press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to Undo that movement.
You can also nudge the selection outline. For example, I can press the Up Arrow key a few times in order to nudge the selection outline up or I could press the Down Arrow key. If you want to nudge the selection in increments of 10 pixels, then you press Shift+Up Arrow or Shift+Down Arrow or you can also work with the right and left arrows. But in my case, I just need to nudge it down a little bit, like so. Incidentally, when you are just pressing an arrow key by itself, not Shift, but just an arrow key, you nudge in screen pixels, which means if you are Zoomed out, you are going to nudge in larger increments than when you are Zoomed in.
Alright, we have selected the moon. Awesome! The next thing we want to do is soften this selection outline and I'm going to show you how that works in the next exercise.
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