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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 Quick Selection tool is easily my favorite Selection tool in Photoshop. In fact, I often refer to it not just as the Quick Selection tool, but as the quick and easy selection tool. And it really does make easy work of many selections. Let's take a look at how we can use the Quick Selection tool. I'll get started by choosing the Quick Selection tool from the Toolbox. And then, just so we can see exactly how it works, I'll simply click and drag across an object that I want to select, and as you can see, it's done a remarkable job of identifying the edges of that object.
It's not a perfect selection. You can see, for example, there's a portion of this life ring that was not selected, and the rope was not selected. That could be good or bad depending on what I'm looking for here But the point is it did a remarkable job of creating that initial selection. Let's take a look at the various options that are available for the quick selection tool upon the options bar. The first is a slight variation of what we normally see for the other selection tools in Photoshop. Normally, we have a new selection option, the add to selection option, the subtract from selection option. Option and the intersect with selection option.
In the case of the Quick Selection tool things are slightly different. First off, there's no intersect option and that's largely due to the nature of the Quick Selection tool in terms of how it works. It just doesn't make much sense to intersect when you don't really know what you're intersecting with, considering that Photoshop is identifying the edges of the selection for For you. The other interesting thing is that if we choose the New Selection option, that's only effective once. As soon as I start to create a selection, I'll go ahead and just start a random selection here, I am creating a new selection that is replacing the existing selection.
But, as soon as I release the mouse, the tool automatically switches to the Add to Selection option. And because the settings are sticky, if I switch to a different tool and then come back to the quick selection tool, it will still be set to the Add Option. And what that generally means is that in most cases I'm always working with the options Set to Add. And that usually works perfectly fine because typically you'll switch to the Quick Selection tool. Because you don't yet have a selection created. And so you're going to start creating a selection. And if you're starting with no selection, adding still works just fine.
It essentially works as though it were a new selection. But it also means that you won't upset an existing selection if you switch to the Quick Selection tool. If you need to choose the subtract option, you can click on the subtract option. But you can also simply hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, in order to access that subtract from selection option. Because the Quick Selection tool is essentially a brush tool, we're painting over the object that we want to select, there's also a brush size. We can establish the brush settings on the Options bar, but generally speaking I'll just adjust the brush size on the fly using the Right Square bracket key to increase the brush size, or the Left Square bracket key to decrease the brush size.
The Sample All Layers checkbox enables you to essentially not worry about which layer is selected in most cases. If for example I already had an adjustment layer active for this image, I don't need to worry about selecting the background image layer in order to create a selection sampling from that layer. I can simply work on whatever layer is active. Just keep in mind that this literally means to sample all layers that are actually visible at the moment, and so if you're working on a composite image and you want to create a selection from a specific layer, then you might want to turn this option off. But in most cases I leave the Sample All Layers checkbox turned on. I also leave the auto enhance check box turned on. This tends to be a relatively subtle setting.
With this check box turned on Photoshop will perform some additional analysis of the selection edge that was initially created and it will fine tune it. Usually, I find it with the Auto-Enhance checkbox turned on, I get a higher quality selection that better follows the edge of the subject. The only other indication that it's even on is that you'll see a slight (no period) And jittering of that selection edge just before it's finalized. So you'll paint along an object, and you'll see the selection edge bounce around just a little bit before it's finalized. So I typically use these settings always for the Quick Selection tool.
I'll go ahead and press control d on Windows or command d on Macintosh to deselect, and you'll see I can simply click and drag across the life ring here. To create that initial selection, and then of course I can zoom in on the areas that were less than perfect and reduce the brush size using the left square bracket key. And then I will click and drag near this area that was problematic. You'll notice that initially that selection edge doesn't look to be following along the edge very well. But then I'll release the mouse, and you'll see it adjusts just a little bit but I'm still having an issue over here.
That's probably because this portion of the light frame has a color and tonal value that very closely matches this area out here. But I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh and then paint over that area that I want to subtract. And once again you'll see an initial selection shape. But when I release the mouse, that selection will be cleaned up just a little bit. So I can continue in this manner working to fine tune the selection. I'll go ahead and reduce that brush size for example. And then paint on that rope, you see that I get part of the wall here included in the selection. And so I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or Option key on Macintosh, and then just click and paint just a small amount inside that area. And then once again tidy up in a couple of other areas. But as you can see, the Quick Selection tool is incredibly easy to work with, and it makes quick work of many selections.
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