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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.
We're going to start things off with the Magic Wand tool because it's a great jumping off point for learning how to use the automated selection tools inside Photoshop. I'm working inside the ManlySaw image.jpg file found inside the 08_selections folder. And I'm going to click and hold on this fourth slot here and switch to the Magic Wand. You'll often hear people generalize that the Magic Wand tool is no good anymore and basically the Quick Selection tool has replaced it. That it's the better automated selection tool. Now not only do I disagree with that, but also it misses the point.
These are two very different tools in terms of how they work. The Quick Selection tool grows a selection out to incorporate edges, where the Magic Wand tool selects regions of luminance and/or color by virtue of the fact that it calculates selections in different color channels. So if you want to select a region of color or luminance inside of Photoshop, the Magic Wand tool is a great place to start. And let me show you what that looks like. I'll go ahead and zoom in on this ManlySaw image and click here inside of a portion of the handle.
And what Photoshop has just done is it's evaluated that click point on a channel by channel basis. That is to say if we go over here to the Channels panel it evaluated that click point in the Red channel, in the Green channel and in the Blue channel, and then it grew the selection to incorporate similar luminance levels, that is darks and lights, inside of each of those channels and then rounded off the selection between the three channels to calculate that composite selection that we see here.
Also worth noting is that by default it goes ahead and selects adjacent pixels. So notice it grows into areas as it can but if it reaches a line or something that it can't hurdle, then it stops. Now then, if you want to grow the selection further, if you want to select more of the image. Presumably for example, you don't want to just grab this area of yellow. Then you can either switch to this option up in the Options Bar, Add to selection, or better still, you can just press and hold the Shift key. Notice if you press the Shift key you get a little Plus next to your cursor that shows that you're going to add.
And this works with all the selection tools by the way, except for the Quick Selection tool, which doesn't require you to press Shift, it adds automatically. Alright, so I would Shift+Click here for example, and then Shift+Click down here, and Shift+Click over in this black sort of muzzle region of the saw and then Shift+Click inside the glove. And you get the sense that this is going to be some pretty slow progress if I keep trying to select the foreground image, when in fact the background is so much easier to select. We have this flat region of sky right here that's just begging to be selected with the Magic Wand tool.
We've also got this thing up here under the Select menu called the Inverse command, Ctrl+Shift+I or Command+Shift+I on the Mac, and that's going to reverse our selection. So if it's easier to select the thing you don't want to select, then by all means do that and then choose Inverse in order to select the thing you do want to select. Alright, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm just going to click in the sky, and notice if I don't press any key, while I'm clicking with the Magic Wand tool then it begins a new selection, and if I click right about there I'll get this much area selected.
Now if you're working along with me you may see a different selection outline entirely depending on which portion of the sky you click on. Alright, so next I would presumably Shift+ Click around here in order to add to the selection, and now I select almost the entire sky except for this little bit over in the upper right corner. But I also select into the saw, so in other words I've selected too much. Now if you want to subtract from a selection using any tool including the Quick Selection tool this time, then you go to this option, the third icon up there in the Options Bar, Subtract from selection, or better yet you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then you'll see a little Minus sign next to the Magic Wand and then you could Option+Click or Alt+Click on that saw blade, and then it turns out you deselected too much.
So how in the world do you make this tool work? It is indeed living up to its moniker of the tragic Wand tool. Well we have all these controls at our disposal up here in the Options Bar, and I'll show you how those work in the next exercise.
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