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The Elliptical Marquee tool, as the name implies, allows you to create selections in your images that are based on ellipses. And that makes it possible to select round or elliptical objects. Let's take a look at how this Selection tool works. It's actually almost identical to the Rectangular Marquee tool. The key difference, of course, is that the resulting selection is elliptical in shape rather than rectangular in shape. I'll get started by clicking and holding on the button for the Rectangular Marquee tool on the toolbox. That will bring up the fly up menu where I can chose the Elliptical Marquee tool. With that tool active I can now work directly in the image in order to create elliptical selections.
But, first, let's take a look at various options on the options bar. At the top left, I'm going to set the option to create a new selection when I click and drag. There are also options for add to selection, subtract from selection or intersect with selection. We'll take a look at those in just a moment. But for now, I'm going to create a new selection with each click of the mouse. I'll make sure that the Feather option is set to 0 pixels. I'll apply the effect of feathering later in my workflow when I actually put the selection to use. I also want to be sure that the Anti-alias checkbox is turned on, so that the selection edges will be smoothed out just a little bit. For the style pop up, I'll typically use the normal option that allows me to create an eliptical selection of any aspect ratio that I'd like. If I want to constrain that selection to a particular ratio, I can choose Fixed Ratio and then set values for width or height.
So for example if I want a selection that is twice as wide as it is tall, I can enter a value of two for width and one for height, and then click and drag. Inside the image, and as you can see, that selection, no matter which direction I drag, is always going to be twice as wide as it is tall. I can also create a selection of a specific size. I'll choose the Fixed Size option from the Style popup, and then I can specify values for width and height. At the moment I have those set to 64 pixels each. And so when I click in the image, I get a selection that is exactly square, 64 pixels in diameter.
I'll go ahead and press Control+D on Windows or Command+D on Macintosh to deselect the selection. And then I'll set the style option back to normal. And then we can take a look at some of the other ways you might work with the Elliptical Marquee tool. To begin with one of the biggest challenges of the Elliptical Marquee tool Is the fact that the selections are elliptical. Now, that would stand to reason of course. But the problem is that ellipses or circles don't have corners, but they do fit inside of a rectangle and in essence what we're doing when we're creating a selection with the Elliptical Marquee tool is drawing a rectangle inside which the ellipse will be contained.
Well that's all well and good, but how do I create a selection when I don't know exactly where the corner is? So for example if I want to create a selection of the inner portion of this barrel, where do I click? Well I can go up from the left edge and try to align with that top edge, and I think somewhere, right about there is where I need to click. So I can go ahead and click and drag to draw that selection And I find out that I didn't do a very good job. My selection is not lining up with the inside of the barrel, but that's okay. I don't need to line it up perfectly from the get go, in fact it doesn't really matter necessarily where I initially click because as long as I'm holding that mouse button down so that I can adjust the size and shape of my selection I can also move that selection around.
I'll go ahead and hold the Spacebar key on the toolbar, and now when I drag you'll see that my selection is moving around within the image. If I get it into the right position, I can then release the Space bar, still holding down the mouse button. By the way, so that I can continue dragging and re-sizing the selection. As needed, I can press and hold the space-bar again in order to move that selection. And then release the space-bar when I want to adjust the overall size and dimensions of that selection. And in this way, I can Fine tune the position and size of my selection until it's absolutely perfect, then I can release the mouse to create that selection.
As with the Rectangular Marquee tool, there are also some other keyboard shortcuts you may want to put to use. First we can choose the Add to Selection, Subtract from Selection, or Intersect with Selection options with a keyboard shortcut. I can hold the Shift key to access the Add to Selection option. So holding Shift, I'll then click and drag in order to add additional areas to the selection. I can access the Subtract From From Selection option by holding the Alt key on Windows and or the Option key on Macintosh, and then drag to define the areas that I want to remove from the selection.
And I can access the intersect option by holding both the Alt and Shift keys on Windows or the option and shift keys on Macintosh and then click and drag to define the area that I actually want to keep within the selection. And all other areas will be deselected. I will go ahead and deselect that selection, and then we take a look at another option. If I click and drag, and then after I clicked, I press and hold the Shift key. Then, I will constrain that selection to a perfect circle. If I click and drag and then add the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, that selection will grow outward from the point I initially clicked.
If I add the Shift key at this point, I can still access that circle option, so that a selection is growing outward from the point I initially clicked and the shape of that selection is a perfect circle. So you can see we have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to the Elliptical Marquee tool. It is a relatively simple tool, at least in terms of the selection shapes you're able to create. But there are some slightly sophisticated options for this relatively simple tools as well.
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