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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 Polygonal Lasso tool allows you to create selections in the shape of polygons. In other words, comprised of straight edges. While that might seem to be a bit of a limiting factor, there are also some options that make the Polygonal Lasso tool a bit more flexible. Let's take a look at the basic use of this Selection tool. I'll start off by clicking and holding my mouse on the button for the Lasso tool on the toolbox. That will bring up a fly out menu, and from that menu, I will choose Polygonal Lasso tool. Creating selections with the Polygonal Lasso tool involves clicking to define anchor points. So I can click to create my initial selection point. And then move my mouse without holding the mouse button into the position for my next anchor point.
And then click again. And again, and again, defining essentially all of the corners for my polygon. When I'm finished defining my shape I can move the mouse over the initial point that I clicked. You'll notice that my mouse pointer has an indication of the Polygonal Lasso tool. With a circle, in other words, a closed shape to the bottom right of it that indicates that clicking in that spot will close my selection actually creating the selection for me. But, of course, there are additional options available to us. I'll go ahead and deselect by pressing Control+D on Windows or Command+D on Macintosh.
Let's take a moment to first understand the options that are available on the options bar. There aren't many of them. We can create a new selection, add to an existing selection, subtract from an existing selection or intersect with an existing selection. If we leave the option set to new selection we can also access the Add to Selection option by holding the Shift key. We can access the Subtract From Selection option by holding the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh. And we can access the Intersect option by holding both the Shift and Alt keys on Windows, or both the Shift and Option keys on Macintosh.
We can adjust the feathering, but I recommend leaving that set to zero pixels. Instead, applying the same effect as feathering later in your work flow. And I do recommend leaving the anti alias check box turned on, in order to smooth out those selection edges. Which in this case primarily relates to the portions of the selection that are not comprised of perfectly vertical or horizontal lines. So, having looked at those options, let's continue exploring the Polygonal Lasso tool. Since we use anchor points as the basis of the selections we create, of course, you'll simply be clicking to define the overall shape.
But what happens if you decide part way through that you haven't created just the right shape? You could press the Escape key if needed in order to cancel out that selection. In other words, to not create the selection at all. But there's also an additional option. I'll go ahead and click and then click and click and I'm just creating a random shape in this case. Let's assume that I was on the right track to begin with and then. Created a problem. Well, I can also back up. Keep in mind that each time I click I'm creating an anchor point and at all times, that last anchor point is connected to my mouse with a straight line. But I can also back up, in other words remove, previous anchor points by pressing the Delete key.
So I'll go ahead and press delete and the preceding anchor point is removed and delete one more time, and again, and again, and again and each of those preceding anchors points is removed with each press of the delete key. I'll go ahead and press Escape to cancel that selection, and let's assume that I wanted to select the rectangle of the white boards around the shuttered windows here. I could click in a corner and then click at the next corner and then click at the following corner. And the next corner and then finally back to my original starting position. And of course, in this case, you might have originally assumed that the rectangular Marquee tool would be an effective tool, but things are a little bit crooked here.
The windows aren't exactly parallel with each other, and because of perspective distortion, the shapes are not True rectangles either. So, the polygonal (UNKNOWN) proves to be very, very helpful, but what about a situation where the polygon you want to select isn't exactly a polygon. Let's take a look at the left window, for example, and I am going to zoom in just a little bit so that we can get a close look at the corner here, and you will see that the shape of the white portion here is not exactly squared off.
So, let's assume that we are creating a selection of this white area. But we ran into that corner, and we want the selection to follow the actual white shape. I'll go ahead and just start a selection midway through. So I'll start over here and I'll simply click. And then I'll click again at the end of that straight line. But at this point, I don't want a straight line. In theory I could use lots of small straight lines until I get back to the portion of this shape that is straight. But it will actually be easier to take advantage of an additional option that's available with the Polygonal Lasso tool.
At any time when I'm in the middle of creating a selection, I can actually switch on the fly to the regular Lasso tool so that I can trace a particular random shape. To access taht feature, you'll the Alt key on Windows or the Option key in Macintosh. So, I'll get my mouse back to the point where I want to start tracing freehand. And then I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or option key on Macintosh and then click and drag with the mouse in order to define that shape. Once I get back to the portion that's straight, I can release the mouse button and release the alter option key and now I'm back to creating a polygonal selection, in other words I am adding anchor points and defining straight lines. So as you can see, working with the Polygonal Lasso tool is rather straightforward.
We're just defining anchor points and connecting the dots as it were to create a selection. But we also have the flexibility of being able to add random shapes along the way by taking advantage of the Lasso tool. As part of the polygonal lasso too. It all adds up to a rather flexible tool. You might not use it all that often because you may not find situations all that often where the selection you need is comprised primarily of straight edges. But when you do need to create a selection that is comprised of mostly straight lines the Polygonal Lasso tool can't be beat.
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