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Making a good selection with the Magic Wand

From: Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

Video: Making a good selection with the Magic Wand

In this exercise we're going to actually put the Magic Wand tool to work. And notice that I have the Magic Wand selected here inside the toolbox. We're going to use the tool to select the frog's green skin, and then we're going to turn that skin gold. And what I've done is I've stepped ahead one layer comp inside the file called The frog wizard.psd. But we're going to start things off inside this file, which is called Frog with one red foot.psd. Notice that I've gone ahead and reinstated the default settings for the Wand. So the Tolerance is 32, Anti-alias and Contiguous are both turned on, Sample All layers is turned off.

Making a good selection with the Magic Wand

In this exercise we're going to actually put the Magic Wand tool to work. And notice that I have the Magic Wand selected here inside the toolbox. We're going to use the tool to select the frog's green skin, and then we're going to turn that skin gold. And what I've done is I've stepped ahead one layer comp inside the file called The frog wizard.psd. But we're going to start things off inside this file, which is called Frog with one red foot.psd. Notice that I've gone ahead and reinstated the default settings for the Wand. So the Tolerance is 32, Anti-alias and Contiguous are both turned on, Sample All layers is turned off.

If you're working along with me, go ahead and click on the bottom layer in the Layers panel, which is called original frog, so we don't have to worry about selecting through other layers. And then go ahead and click with the tool inside the frog and that will establish a base selection. Now, the way most folks work with the Magic Wand tool and the reason it becomes so incredibly infuriating is they go ahead and press the Shift key and then click in order to select more of the frog in this case and then Shift+Click again in order to select another region; that time I barely got anything. Shift+Click some more, Shift+Click some more, and so on and so on, and at this rate it's going to take us several minutes, if not an entire day, to select this frog's skin.

So that obviously is not the right approach. Here is a better way to work. I am going to press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to deselect the frog. Then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac to select the Tolerance value up there in the options bar, and I'll change it to 80. And then I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac. Now, at this point you might say, well, how do you know to do that? How do you know to crank that value up to 80? And I'm just sizing up the image. This is just the kind of thing you learn with experience, but I'm looking at this frog, this range of greens has to be averaged across the various channels.

If I press Ctrl+3 or Command+3 on the Mac, I can see that we've got some medium grays in the Red Channel. If I press Ctrl+4 or Command+4, I can see that I've got some bright colors in the Green Channel. And then if I press Ctrl+5 or Command +5, I can see that I have utter and complete darkness here inside the Blue Channel, which means I'm really relying on the Red and Green Channels to get this work done. Anyway, I'm going to press Ctrl+2 or Command+2 to return to the RGB composite, and then I'll click there in that frog shoulder in order to select a pretty good range of greens without extending too far down into the mouth.

Now I'm going to reduce the Tolerance value by pressing the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, and I'll change that value to 40. And then I'll go up to the Select menu and choose the Similar command. Now, the reason I went ahead and reduced that value in advance of choosing Similar is that Similar jumps the gaps, and that means it's going to select a lot more greens throughout the image. And if I don't crank down that Tolerance value in advance, then I'll end up selecting way too many colors. Now I'll go ahead and choose Similar, and notice that we've selected a wide range of greens.

I've got a few selection flickers down here in the ground level as well. Ultimately, I don't want to select the ground, but we'll end up resolving that away using this awesome option that's available to us in the Masks panel. And you'll see how that works shortly. All right. From here on out we're going to Shift+Click a few times. So we can go ahead and take that Tolerance value back up. So I'm going to press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, change the Tolerance value to 80 once again, press Enter or Return in order to accept that value. Then I'll Shift+Click in the animal's nose, right about there, that bright green portion of the nose.

And then I'll drop down into kind of this bright area of mussle right there, and I'll Shift+Click right about there as well. And that pretty much takes care of the animal's face. The only thing left is to get a little bit more of this elbow over here, and I'm going to Shift+Click in this bright region of elbow, like so, in order to extend the selection, and that establishes my base selection. Now, it's not really anything to write home about. If you want to see what the selection looks like and evaluate its edges, then go ahead and switch over to the Channels panel and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that Save selection icon down there at the bottom of the panel, and let's go ahead and call this new Alpha Channel wand work and click OK.

And now I'll click on that wand work channel so we can see what it looks like, and I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac just to hide my selection for a moment. And now let's go ahead and Zoom on in and you can see that we have some pretty rough transitions inside this selection. So while we do have a few little gray pixels around the edges here and there, which are the signs of our Anti- aliasing, it's not as clean as a kind of Anti-aliasing we would get with the Elliptical Marquee tool or the Lasso tools. Anyway, that's the way it is. Let's go ahead and switch back to RGB.

I am going to press Ctrl+0 or Command+ 0 on the Mac in order to Zoom back out. And I'll switch over to the Layers panel. I still have my selection outline intact, I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+ H on the Mac to bring it back. So that means it will automatically be converted into a layer Mask when I add an adjustment layer. So now I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click that black line icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. Then I'll choose the Hue/Saturation command, and I'll go ahead and call this new layer gold skin, and then I'll click OK. And notice that Photoshop has gone ahead and automatically converted the selection outline to a layer Mask.

Now let's go ahead and dial in some values here. I'm going to change the Hue to -30, and then I'm going to take the Saturation value up to 50, and I am going to leave the Lightness value set to 0. Now, this looks pretty awful, and that's by virtue of the fact that we have some very rough edges and our selection is extending into some non-green areas, and as a result some of these regions are turning red. But we're going to resolve that by switching to the Masks panel. So go up to the Window menu and choose the Masks command, and that will go ahead and bring the panel up on screen.

Your layer Mask thumbnail should be selected in the Layers panel. If so, the various options inside the Masks panel will be available to you, and I want you to go ahead and crank up the Feather value. What this allows us to do is soften the selection on the fly. So this is what's known as a parametric modification. What that means is we're changing a parameter, hence parametric, and we can always come back and change this parameter again anytime we like. So it's an entirely nondestructive modification to this mask.

I'm going to go ahead and take that value down to 20 pixels is what I'm looking for, in order to create the effect that you see here. And now we're ending up with some nice smooth, even soft transitions that give us a naturalistic effect. And that my friends is how you make good use of the Magic Wand tool here inside Photoshop.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals
Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

128 video lessons · 29207 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 15m 25s
    1. Welcome
      1m 12s
    2. Loading my custom dekeKeys shortcuts
      3m 45s
    3. Adjusting the color settings
      4m 29s
    4. Setting up a power workspace
      5m 59s
  2. 1h 0m
    1. The channel is the origin of masking
      1m 54s
    2. The Masks and Channels panels
      4m 48s
    3. How color channels work
      7m 7s
    4. Viewing channels in color
      3m 24s
    5. How RGB works
      4m 12s
    6. Single-channel grayscale
      5m 12s
    7. Mixing a custom "fourth" channel
      5m 15s
    8. The other three-channel mode: Lab
      5m 45s
    9. A practical application of Lab
      4m 55s
    10. The final color mode: CMYK
      7m 5s
    11. Introducing the Multichannel mode
      5m 56s
    12. Creating a unique multichannel effect
      5m 18s
  3. 44m 27s
    1. The alpha channel is home to the mask
      1m 40s
    2. The origins of the alpha channel
      3m 40s
    3. How a mask works
      7m 10s
    4. Making an alpha channel
      4m 2s
    5. Using the new channel icons
      6m 27s
    6. Saving an image with alpha channels
      4m 23s
    7. Loading a selection from a channel
      4m 7s
    8. Putting a mask into play
      3m 55s
    9. Loading a selection from a layer
      4m 27s
    10. Loading a selection from another image
      4m 36s
  4. 1h 0m
    1. The mask meets the composition
      1m 8s
    2. Viewing a mask as a rubylith overlay
      6m 13s
    3. Changing a mask's overlay color
      5m 34s
    4. Painting inside a mask
      6m 3s
    5. Cleaning up and confirming
      5m 18s
    6. Combining masks
      5m 10s
    7. Painting behind and inside a layer
      5m 27s
    8. Blending image elements
      6m 1s
    9. What to do when layers go wrong
      6m 3s
    10. Hiding layer effects with a mask
      4m 22s
    11. Introducing clipping masks
      5m 29s
    12. Unclipping and masking a shadow
      3m 50s
  5. 1h 35m
    1. The seven selection soldiers
      52s
    2. The marquee tools
      6m 31s
    3. The single-pixel tools (plus tool tricks)
      6m 48s
    4. Turning a destructive edit into a layer
      5m 34s
    5. Making shapes of specific sizes
      7m 7s
    6. The lasso tools
      5m 49s
    7. Working with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      7m 19s
    8. The Quick Selection tool
      8m 13s
    9. Combining Quick Selection and Smudge
      4m 52s
    10. The Magic Wand and the Tolerance value
      6m 55s
    11. Contiguous and Anti-aliased selections
      6m 58s
    12. Making a good selection with the Magic Wand
      6m 34s
    13. Selecting and replacing a background
      6m 55s
    14. Resolving edges with layer effects
      7m 52s
    15. Adding lines of brilliant gold type
      7m 28s
  6. 1h 11m
    1. Selections reign supreme
      55s
    2. Introducing "selection calculations"
      4m 19s
    3. Combining two different tools
      7m 29s
    4. Selections and transparency masks
      5m 17s
    5. Selecting an eye
      7m 1s
    6. Masking and blending a texture into skin
      5m 1s
    7. Painting a texture into an eye
      4m 19s
    8. Combining layers, masks, channels, and paths
      4m 54s
    9. Moving selection outlines vs. selected pixels
      5m 36s
    10. Transforming and warping a selection outline
      7m 45s
    11. Pasting an image inside a selection
      7m 26s
    12. Adding volumetric shadows and highlights
      6m 54s
    13. Converting an image into a mask
      4m 42s
  7. 1h 5m
    1. The best selection tools are commands
      1m 5s
    2. Introducing the Color Range command
      5m 59s
    3. Working in the Color Range dialog box
      7m 7s
    4. Primary colors and luminance ranges
      4m 12s
    5. A terrific use for Color Range
      4m 57s
    6. Introducing the Quick Mask mode
      7m 43s
    7. Moving a selection into a new background
      5m 43s
    8. Smoothing the mask, recreating the corners
      8m 43s
    9. Integrating foreground and background
      4m 44s
    10. Creating a cast shadow from a layer
      2m 51s
    11. Releasing and masking layer effects
      3m 11s
    12. Creating a synthetic rainbow effect
      4m 30s
    13. Masking and compositing your rainbow
      4m 46s
  8. 1h 17m
    1. The ultimate in masking automation
      1m 6s
    2. Introducing the Refine Mask command
      6m 58s
    3. Automated edge detection
      8m 23s
    4. Turning garbage into gold
      6m 19s
    5. Starting with an accurate selection
      7m 11s
    6. Selection outline in, layer mask out
      7m 48s
    7. Matching a scene with Smart Filters
      4m 29s
    8. Cooling a face, reflecting inside eyes
      4m 45s
    9. Creating a layer of ghoulish skin
      4m 28s
    10. Adding dark circles around the eyes
      5m 20s
    11. Creating a fake blood effect
      5m 38s
    12. Establishing trails of blood
      7m 40s
    13. Integrating the blood into the scene
      7m 3s
  9. 1h 48m
    1. Using the image to select itself
      1m 37s
    2. Choosing the ideal base channel
      5m 7s
    3. Converting a channel into a mask
      6m 34s
    4. Painting with the Overlay mode
      7m 27s
    5. Painting with the Soft Light mode
      5m 55s
    6. Mask, composite, refine, and blend
      4m 40s
    7. Creating a more aggressive mask
      7m 2s
    8. Blending differently masked layers
      7m 0s
    9. Creating a hair-only mask
      6m 0s
    10. Using history to regain a lost mask
      3m 42s
    11. Separating flesh tones from hair
      8m 28s
    12. Adjusting a model's color temperature
      4m 30s
    13. Introducing the Calculations command
      7m 22s
    14. Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
      6m 34s
    15. Integrating a bird into a new sky
      5m 40s
    16. Creating synthetic rays of light
      6m 4s
    17. Masking and compositing light
      7m 39s
    18. Introducing a brilliant light source
      7m 5s
  10. 1h 34m
    1. The synthesis of masking and compositing
      1m 36s
    2. White reveals, black conceals
      6m 45s
    3. Layer masking tips and tricks
      5m 8s
    4. Generating a layer mask with Color Range
      5m 38s
    5. The Masks panel's bad options
      5m 18s
    6. The Masks panel's good options
      3m 50s
    7. Creating and feathering a vector mask
      3m 42s
    8. Combining pixel and vector masks
      3m 50s
    9. Working with path outlines
      7m 10s
    10. Combining paths into a single vector mask
      7m 52s
    11. Sharpening detail, reducing color noise
      4m 27s
    12. Recreating missing details
      8m 49s
    13. Masking glass
      5m 50s
    14. Refining a jagged Magic Wand mask
      5m 53s
    15. Masking multiple layers at one time
      5m 15s
    16. Establishing a knockout layer
      6m 6s
    17. Clipping and compositing tricks
      7m 37s
  11. 1m 17s
    1. Next steps
      1m 17s

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