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Learn how to use selections and layer masks in Photoshop to create composite images and apply targeted adjustments. After covering the key concepts behind selections and exploring Photoshop's selection tools, Tim Grey delves into a variety of advanced techniques that will help you make accurate selections, create seamless composite images, and apply adjustments that do exactly what you want them to do.
The Lasso tool in Photoshop is probably the most flexible of all the Selection tools. That's not to say it's the most sophisticated, it's actually in some respects the simplest, but it allows you to create a selection of any shape you can imagine. And that's because with the Lasso tool, you're actually creating selections free hand. You're tracing or drawing to create the selection. As a result, I tend not to use the Lasso tool for creating initial selections, but rather I use it to modify existing selections.
In other words, to clean up a selection that isn't quite perfect. Let's take a look at the basic use of the Lasso tool. I'll start off by selecting the Lasso tool from the Toolbox, and then we can take a look at the Settings on the Options bar. We of course can choose to create a new selection, Add to an existing selection, Subtract from an existing selection, or Intersect with an existing selection, and then we have the option to Feather our selection. But I recommend not feathering in the process of creating the selection. Instead, saving that for later in your workflow.
I do recommend having the Anti-alis checkbox turned on so that the edges of your selections will be smoothed out a little bit. But as you can see, there's not a whole lot of options for the Lasso tool. We simply click and drag within the image to define the shape of our selection. We can also then hold the Shift key to access the Add to Selection option if we need to add additional areas to the selection. We can hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh if we want to access the subtract from Selection option in order to remove areas from the current selection.
And we can hold both the Shift and Alt keys on Windows or the Shift and Option keys on Macintosh to access the Intersect with Selection option. So that the area we draw will define the only portion of the existing selection that should remain selected. I'll go ahead and deselect that selection though, because for this image, I have an existing selection already saved, and I want to clean that selection up a little bit. So, I'll go to the Select menu and choose Load Selection. I'll make sure that the appropriate selection that I've saved previously is selected from the channel pop-up. In this case, the only selection.
It's called Chain, and then I'll click OK to create that selection. And if we take a look at the selection a little bit closer, especially, we'll find that the selection is far from perfect. There are some areas of the image, for example, that are selected and should not be. And I'm sure we'll find some portions of the image that are not selected, but should be. But here, we find an area that is not chain but it's included in the Chain selection, so I want to remove it from the selection, and that is exactly the type of task I'll typically perform with the Lasso tool.
So, I need to Subtract from selection, so I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, and then I'll start off from a position where the selection is in the right place and then I'll click and drag. And follow the edge of the area that I need to, in this case, subtract from the selection. And I'll trace that until I get back to the area where the selection meets, in this case, the chain, the object that I'm selecting in essence. And then I just loop back to my original starting point and release the mouse and that area is subtracted from the selection.
I'll press and hold the Space Bar key to access the Hand tool and then I can pan around the image. There's a portion here for example of the chain that is not included in the selection, so I can hold the Shift key. And then click, starting from inside the chain or inside that existing selection. And then I'll cross over that selection and follow the outline of the chain as carefully as I can and then loop back around to my initial starting point. And that area is added to the selection as well. There's another area here that I think should be included as part of that selection but it was not. That looks much better.
I can also zoom out just a little bit, and then pan around the image and look for any other areas that need to be cleaned up. Overall, the selection looks pretty good, but there are some areas that were not quite perfect. Up here, I need to add to the selection. So I'll hold the Shift key and then trace along that edge and loop back. And here's another area that needs to be subtracted from the selection. So I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, and then adjust that portion. Looks like I didn't quite trace exactly along that chain, so I'll hold the Shift key in order to add to that selection and clean up that area.
And in this way, we are able to add to or subtract from our selections, and that is really in my mind the best use for the Lasso tool. Because it is so flexible, it's not the best tool for creating large selections, but it's certainly incredibly helpful when it comes to cleaning up or fine-tuning existing selections.
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