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Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals is a concise and focused introduction to the key features in Photoshop, presented by long-time lynda.com author and Adobe veteran Deke McClelland. This course covers the image editing process from the very beginning and progresses through the concepts and techniques that every photographer or graphic designer should know. Deke explains digital imaging fundamentals, such as resolution vs. size and the effects of downsampling. He explains how to use layers to edit an image nondestructively and organize those edits in an easy-to-read way, and introduces techniques such as cropping, adjusting brightness and contrast, correcting and changing color, and retouching and healing images. These lessons distill the vast assortment of tools and options to a refined set of skills that will get you working inside Photoshop with confidence.
In this movie, we're going to select that giant sunflower that appears at the foreground of the final composition, and we're going to do so using a combination of the Magic Wand tool and the Grow command. Now in the end, we want to select the sunflower. However, it's pretty complicated by comparison to its background. So we're once again going to select the background and reverse the selection. So if you're working along with me, select the Magic Wand tool below the Lasso tool. If you don't see it there, select the tool from the Quick Selection tool flyout menu.
And then just to restore the default settings, I'm going to right-click in the Magic Wand tool icon on the far left side of the Options Bar and choose the Reset tool command. And that resets all the options except this Sample Size option that it shares along with the Eyedropper, and I'm going to go ahead and change that back to Point Sample so Photoshop tracks just the pixel upon which I click. Now this is a pretty straightforward tool to use, but a lot of folks don't understand what's going on under the hood. What you do is you click on a pixel and then Photoshop grows the selection to include all similar colors.
However, as you can see here, it's not selecting the entire background and that's because the selection is based on a Tolerance value. The Tolerance is set to 32 by default, meaning that Photoshop is going to select 32 luminance levels brighter and 32 luminance levels darker than the pixel upon which I clicked. And it's going to do so on a channel-by-channel basis and average the selection accordingly. Also worth noting is Contiguous is turned on by default. What that means is Photoshop is just selecting adjacent pixels as opposed to, for example, dark green pixels that are located on the other side of the sunflower if there were such a thing.
Now I mentioned that the Wand works on a channel-by-channel basis because the tool works best with high color images. I'm going to switch over to the Channels panel and you may recall from the previous chapter that I was telling you that high intensity color is caused by dramatic differences between the channels. And so if I click on a Red channel, you can see that the sunflower appears very bright against the dark background. In the Green channel, the sunflower is only slightly brighter than this background overall. And then in the Blue channel, the whole darn image is nearly black.
And as a result, we have a ton of channel difference to work with, the Magic Wand tool really likes that. All right, I'm going to switch back to the RGB Composite, switch back to the Layers panel as well. Ideally what you'd be able to do is increase the Tolerance value. For example, let's say, well, apparently my Tolerance isn't set high enough. I'll take it up to 50, or something along those lines, and the selection would update, but that doesn't happen because it's a static control. So what you have to do if you want to add to the selection is press the Shift key and then click again in order to add to the selection, and I might Shift click over here as well.
And that selects almost everything, but there's a lot of background that isn't selected so far, which is where the Grow command comes in. Go up to the Select menu. You'll see that Grow and Similar appear right next to each other. They are actually variations on the same command and they are both linked to that Tolerance option that we just changed to 50. The Similar command will select all similar colors whether they are adjacent or not. The Grow command will just select the adjacent pixels. So in our case, Grow is the best bet because we just want to select this adjacent region of background.
So I'll go ahead and choose the Grow command and that selects almost everything. You can see that we're still missing this little corner of background, and I can add it in by Shift+Clicking with the Magic Wand tool. Or another way to work by the way, I'm going to start over actually. Press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac and I'm going to restore this Tolerance value to 32, and I'm going to click and Shift+Click and so forth inside the image. And I can spend a lot of time doing that or I could just increase the Tolerance value like crazy, let's say to a 100, and then go up to the Select menu and choose the Grow command and the deed is done.
Because the Grow command is essentially using every selected pixel and then growing the selection based on a tolerance of a 100 luminance levels, which means it's going to select a ton of the image, and because we have so much contrast, the selection does not leak into the petals of the flower. Now as I say, we've selected the background, we really want to select the flower. So go up to the Select menu and choose the Inverse command. And now let's prepare the flower for placement in the larger composition by giving the current image a layer mask.
So the background is selected. If you want to both convert this flat image to a layer and give it a mask, then just drop down to the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and click, and both operations are done at once. Then I'll go ahead and rename this layer, daisy. I'll go up to the File menu and choose the Save As command and then I'll go ahead and call this image Masked daisy. Make sure the Format is set to PSD, that the Layers check box is turned on, and then I'll click on the Save button. And now we have a masked and layered image, thanks to the Magic Wand tool working in combination with the Grow command.
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