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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 Pen tool might not come to mind when you think about creating selections in Photoshop, but it actually can be used to create selections, albeit, slightly indirectly. Let's take a look at just what we can do with the Pen tool. I'll go ahead and choose the Pen tool from the Toolbox, and if you were to just click in various points within the image, then you might assume that the Pen tool is very similar to the Polygonal Lasso tool. What you can use to create selections of polygonal shapes, in other words, comprised primarily of straight lines. And that's certainly with the Pen tool, but there's a much greater capability as well and that is the ability to create Bezier curve.
If instead of clicking, you were to click and drag, you'll be able to take advantage of that feature. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+Z on Windows or Cmd+Option+Z on Macintosh a few times in order to back up and undo those steps. And then I'll click and hold, and then drag my mouse just a little bit. And now, instead of just adding an anchor point, I'm adding an anchor point with a pair of handles. Now, if I go and click somewhere else in the image, instead of connecting those two anchor points with a straight line, I'm getting a curved line. So once again, I'll click and drag.
And you can see that I'm able to adjust the shape of that curve. Specifically I can adjust the direction that that line follows as it begins its curve and I can also determine the distance away from the anchor point that the focal point of the curve will be. I can do that initially by just clicking and dragging. But of course, in most cases, you'll want to exercise a bit more control. And that's where you can hold the alt key on windows or the option key on macintosh, and adjust each handle individually. So for example, I can adjust the shape of this curve by adjusting each of the handles independent of each other and that gives me quite a bit of control over the overall shape. So I'll back up here once again in order to remove that path that I am creating with the Pen tool.
And, that path will be the basis of my selection shortly. With the Pen tool active, all I really need to do is make sure that the option is set to create a path, and then I'm ready to start creating the shape that will be the basis of my selection. In theory, I could probably create a path to define this raindrop shape in just two segments. One that goes from the top of the raindrop, around to the right, and down to the bottom, and then from the bottom back up the left side. But usually, I find that it takes so much effort to try to get such a curve perfect, that it's easier to divide things up into smaller segments.
And so I'll go ahead and click at the apex up at the top here. And then drag outward just a little bit in order to get those handles. And then I'll choose a simple segment here. And then click and drag once again. Now, initially I just want to have those handles available so that I can define the overall shape of my Bezier curve here. And then I'll simply hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh in order to fine-tune each of the handles. In this case, I just need to essentially tone down that curve a little bit. And so, I'll bring those handles inward, essentially pointing down the line that I want to define as my curve.
This one needs to come out just a little bit, and maybe push it a little further up. Somewhere along those lines, that gives you pretty good sense of how I can fine tune that shape. I'll then come down to the bottom, and I will click and drag once again to get my handles for that anchor point. And then holding the Alt key on Windows or Option key on Macintosh, I'll once again adjust those individual handles as needed in order to define the shape of that curve and right about there looks to be pretty good.
I can pull this one in just a little bit, right about there I think, and then I can continue in this fashion. So I'll go ahead and click to add one more anchor point over here and then adjust the handles as needed. So the left handle here will be going upward, and the right handle will be going downward. And then I'll adjust the overall position for both of the handles here in this case, in order to follow that shape of the raindrop. It can take a little bit of back and forth, moving each of those handles. And then go into the other handle and moving it and switching back and forth between each, until you get things lined up nicely.
I think right about there is working pretty well, just need to adjust this one just a little bit. And right about there I think will do it. And then with one last click on the anchor point that I initially created, I will close that path, but of course, I still need to modify this final segment that I created. And so I'll hold the Ctrl key on Windows or the Cmd key on Macintosh, and click on that path in order to activate it so I can get to those handles. I'll then hold the Alt key on Windows or the Options key on Macintosh one more time while I click and drag on each of those handles in order to adjust them so that that path follows along on that shape. Once I'm happy with the overall shape of my path, I can turn it into a selection simply by clicking the Selection button up on the Options bar. I'll go ahead and click that button and you'll see that I have a make selection dialog.
I generally prefer not to Feather selections initially so I'll leave that value set to 0. I do want to have the Anti-alias option turned on so that the jagged edges of my selection will be smoothed out, and in this case, I'm creating a new selection. So I'll go ahead and click the OK button, and now, I have a selection based on that path. So for situations where you need to create a selection based on straight lines or Bezier curves and the other selection tools aren't quite giving you what you need, you might take a look at the Path tool for creating selections.
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