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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
Let's talk about some power shortcuts for the Magnetic Lasso tool. Now it's a little bit different than its cousins, the Regular Lasso tool and the Polygonal Lasso tool. The difference is that the Magnetic Lasso tool is an edge detection tool. It tries to put down a selection around edges. It defines edges as light next to dark, so dark pixels next to light pixels. Now the first thing you should know about the Magnetic Lasso tool is that it's actually using up a circle to look for edges within. Right now that cute little icon that gives you little magnet on the Lasso tool isn't really all that helpful.
So I'm going to turn this cursor into a precise cursor by pressing the Caps Lock key. The Caps Lock key will convert that magnet into the circle. That is the size of the area that the Magnetic Lasso tool is looking for within it for edges. Of course, you can change the size of that just like any other brush by using your Right Bracket key or the Left Bracket key to make the brush larger or smaller. The way that the Magnetic Lasso tool works is you click once to set a start point and then move the mouse along the edge of the image. Every once in a while, the Magnetic Lasso tool will then drop down anchor points. And you don't have to worry about being too precise here. It looks for that contrast within a given area. Some users complain because sometimes the Magnetic Lasso tool doesn't seem to know where to drop a point down. So I'm going to zoom in, while I'm using the tool here. You can just do Command+Plus/Ctrl+Plus. Here, when we get to this edge here, Magnetic Lasso tool doesn't know which edge to jump to, because there are two valid edges within that brush size.
So whenever that happens, you just click on manual point. If you click, you drop down on anchor point by hand, and then you can just continue along your way. So typically that happens around sharp corners when you need to make a manual adjust there. At any time, if you need to pan the image, you can hold down the H key or the Spacebar to pan. Then you can just continue going around the edge. Here again, you can do it very quickly. It's pretty accurate. If for some reason, you want to change the amount of contrast that the Magnetic Lasso tool is using or looking for, you can use your Period and Comma keys, or the Greater Than or Less Than keys, to adjust the Contrast field. You can see up in the Options bar, it's changing 11, 12, 13 and so forth. That's just giving a clue to the Magnetic Lasso tool, how much contrast needs to be seen before it considered it an image.
All right, so we'll click on a manual point here, and we'll just continue going around the outside of this flower. I'm going to ahead and zoom down once by doing Command+Minus/Ctrl+Minus and we'll Spacebar around to pan the image. I'm going to go ahead and complete this. One little tip about the Magnetic Lasso tool is don't worry about getting that perfect. This tool is not about getting a perfect selection the first time. It's about doing 80% to 90% of the work for you. You're going to have to refine your selection, once you've made your base pass out the outline here. I'm going to show you where you'd want to do that. When you get back to the beginning, you just double-click to complete that selection. You can see it did a reasonably good job. There are some spots here that I'm going to need to adjust and what not. Rather than trying to refine that with this Magnetic Lasso tool, I'm going to teach you to go into the Quick Mask Mode and switch to a real selection tool and what do I mean by that.
I want to press Q to go to Quick Mask Mode, and then we'll come zoom in, Command+Spacebar or Command+Plus and you get it dialed in where we want it. I'm going to press my B key for the Brush tool, and this is where I want to turn off the Caps Lock key. Because right now, I don't see my brush circle, I see a precise target, because the Caps Lock key is still turned on. So I'm going to turn that off. Now I can see this as my brush. I'll make it a little bit smaller. Now, since I'm in the Quick Mask Mode, I can paint with black and white to add or subtract to the mask. If I paint with black, I'm adding to the mask. So I'm going to undo that. I'm going to switch my colors, X for Exchange to take away from the mask. I might take this opportunity to show you precise cursors or full size brush tip. Right now, it's just this default circle. I'm going to go on my Preferences, Command+K, Ctrl+K, and in my Cursors category, I'm going turn on the Full Brush Size Tip and Show the Crosshair in the Brush Tip. That's going to give me a much more accurate view of how big my brush really is.
Okay, I'm going to make my brush just a little bit harder by doing Shift+], taking it all the way to the edge of making it harder, and then come back one or two Shift+[. So here I'm subtracting from my mask. I'm going to type X to] exchange that, and I'll just go really, quickly around the edge of the flower. I'm just holding down the Spacebar to pan. I'm just going to touch up the edge here. You can see it's much faster to do this with the Brush tool, than it is to try to go back and make it perfect with one of the Lasso tools. Here I went too for in so, X for exchange, and we'll just paint in a little bit on there and just continue to pan around. Look, I want to get rid of that little black spot, so X for exchange. I'll just come in there a little bit, and we're just going to go around the edge, holding down Spacebar or the H key to -- I'm going to pan around a little bit. And it's really up to you.
So this is fascinating, watching me click around, but you guys get the idea. It doesn't take all that long to refine that mask just a little bit, and we'll finish this up. Right there, X for exchange again, and that's good enough for what we're trying to pull off here. Fit to Window, Command+0, Ctrl+0 and then, if I press the Q key again, I'm back where I have a descent selection. Then I can lift that flower up to its own layer. Command+J/Ctrl+J to duplicate it. Then we can turn the Background layer off, and you can see I've got a complete selection there. So main takeaway there is you control the size of the area that the Magnetic Lasso tool is looking for by using your Right Bracket and Left Bracket keys.
If you want to control little bit further and tell Magnetic Lasso where to drop a point down, just click. Then one thing I didn't mention, let's go back here real click, if I switch back to the Magnetic Lasso tools, turn on Caps Lock key again to get the precise cursor. Sometimes, you're dropping points down that you didn't mean to. If that happens to you, just hit the Delete key in your keyboard and it backs up to the last anchor point. If I keep deleting, eventually I get an anchor point that I still like. There is an errant one, if you can see that. So I'm going to hit Delete and get rid of that extra point. So that's just one last tip for using the Magnetic Lasso tool. Just hit your Delete key if there is an errant anchor point that you don't want to include in your selection.
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