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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

The Quick Selection tool


From:

Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals

with Deke McClelland

Video: The Quick Selection tool

In this exercise, I'll show you how to both use and control the behavior of the Quick Selection tool, and then in the next exercise we'll see a potential use for it. I've saved my progress as Matching frog eyes.psd, and you get to the Quick Selection tool by clicking and holding on the tool below the Lasso tool, which may in your case either be the Quick Selection tool or the Magic Wand, which is why the tools have a keyboard shortcut of W. After all, the Wand is an older tool, it got its keyboard shortcut first, and then Quick Selection was added later. I hasten to add here that the tools are utterly and completely unrelated to each other, they work in remarkably different ways, and they have different purposes as well.
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  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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Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals
11h 35m Intermediate Nov 04, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop Masking and Compositing: Fundamentals is the introductory installment of Deke McClelland's four-part series on making photorealistic compositions in Photoshop. The course shows how to make selections, refine the selections with masks, and then combine them in new ways, using layer effects, blend modes, and other techniques to create a single seamless piece of artwork. Deke introduces the Channels panel and the alpha channel, the key to masking and transparency in Photoshop; reviews the selection tools, including the Color Range tool , Quick Mask mode, and the Refine Edge command; and shows how to blend masked images so they interact naturally.

Topics include:
  • Setting up a workspace
  • Working with the seven key selection tools
  • Using the Color Range command
  • Automating masking
  • Matching a scene with Smart Filters
  • Choosing the ideal base channel
  • Converting a channel to a mask
  • Painting with the Overlay and Soft Light modes
  • Using History to regain a lost mask
  • Working with the Calculations command
  • Extracting a mask from a Smart Object
  • Masking and compositing light
  • Masking with black and white
  • Working with path outlines
  • Combining pixel and vector masks
  • Creating and feathering a vector mask
Subjects:
Design Masking + Compositing
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

The Quick Selection tool

In this exercise, I'll show you how to both use and control the behavior of the Quick Selection tool, and then in the next exercise we'll see a potential use for it. I've saved my progress as Matching frog eyes.psd, and you get to the Quick Selection tool by clicking and holding on the tool below the Lasso tool, which may in your case either be the Quick Selection tool or the Magic Wand, which is why the tools have a keyboard shortcut of W. After all, the Wand is an older tool, it got its keyboard shortcut first, and then Quick Selection was added later. I hasten to add here that the tools are utterly and completely unrelated to each other, they work in remarkably different ways, and they have different purposes as well.

Now, let's say I want use the Quick Selection tool to select this forward foot down here. So I'll go ahead and Zoom in on it. And you use the tool by brushing in a selection, and notice as you brush, Photoshop goes ahead and automatically grows the selection to what it considers to be an edge. And again, an edge is an area of rapid luminance transition; that is bright to dark inside the image. Now, it may be a subtle edge, or it may be an obvious edge, either way the Quick Selection tool is determined to find it. Unfortunately, you can't help it out, you don't have any edge control up here in the options bar, the way you do with the Magnetic Lasso tool.

And whereas, it's not very helpful where the Magnetic Lasso tool is concerned, it might turn out to be very useful for this tool. But Adobe, whether right or wrong, has chosen to keep this tool as simple as possible, so they've hidden some of the tool's behavior, which is too bad in my opinion, because I think if we did have some more controls, this tool would be a lot more useful. All right. After you get done brushing in a selection, you can add to it just by brushing in some more. And notice that tiny click and drag there, ended up selecting this entire toe. So the tool is automatically set up to add to an existing selection outline, and that's a function of these options over here on the left-hand side of the options bar.

So notice that Add to selection is active by default. But I've got a problem here, notice that I've selected a little too much of the ground, because the selection has kind of oozed into the shadow. I don't want that, so I want to paint away the selection. And you can do that by clicking this next option over, Subtract from selection, or you can get to that option on the fly by pressing and holding the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. And notice as you do so, I'll go ahead and release the key for a moment, notice that we've got a little + sign inside of the brush cursor. If you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, it changes to a little - sign, and now you paint in order to paint away the selection, then you release your cursor, and you release the key. All right.

Because this is a brush, you can change its size, and you do that either by clicking this down-pointing arrowhead and changing the Size value. Notice that we have a bunch of other controls that really aren't going to make any difference, with the exception of Hardness, which I'll show you in a moment, but you can change the Size on the fly if you like by pressing those Bracket keys. So the right bracket key will make the brush incrementally larger and the left bracket key will make it incrementally smaller. Now, ostensibly, a larger brush is going to get more done at any given point in time, so you'll be able to generate a larger selection with less work, and then a smaller brush will go ahead and get into those little crevices.

But my experience is that it really doesn't matter much how big your brush is, as long as you can get into those regions that you want to paint, otherwise the tool pretty much behaves the exact same way, whether you have got a large brush or a small one. All right. I'm going to press the Alt or Option key and just click right there in order to paint away a little bit of that shadow once again, and now let's see what the selection looks like, by switching over to the Channel's panel. And I'm going to Alt-Click or Option+ Click on the Save selection as channel icon, in order bring up the New Channel dialog box.

And I'm going to call this guy gummy, because we've got a gummy selection outline so far, and I'll show you what I mean. I'll click OK and go ahead and click on that New Channel to take a look at it. Press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac. You can see that perhaps it's not so much gummy, it's choppy, we have a lot of weird choppy edges going on. And they can be made significantly better by turning on a single check box, but it's going to require us to repaint the selection unfortunately. So let me show you how that works. I'll switch back to the RGB image and I'll go up to the options bar, and notice these two check boxes; Sample All layers will pay attention to the contents of all layers as you paint.

And that's great if you're trying to analyze the composite image. However, note that you can only use that selection on one layer at a time. Auto-Enhance is going to do what it says. It's going to actually make those edges way better, as you're about to see, and in my opinion, Auto-Enhance should always be turned on. It's not like it slows the tool down measurably, and it produces much better results. So I'll increase the size of my cursor and paint over that right-hand toe, and I'll go ahead and paint along the forward toe and this left-hand toe as well, up into this sort of knuckle region, whatever it is, I'm not a biologist.

Anyway, I'll paint this guy right there, just click in order to expand the selection ever so slightly, and then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and paint into the shadow to paint it away. I want to click right about there as well in order to add a little bit to the selection outline. All right. Let's check this one out. I'll go ahead and drop down to that Save selection icon, Alt+Click or Option+Click on it, and let's call this one smoother, and then click OK, so we can get a sense of what it looks like. So I'll press Ctrl+D, Command+D on the Mac, first I'll click on gummy, so we can see that gummy/choppy mask, and then I'll click on smoother and you can see how much smoother the results are.

So it has done a much better job of generating the smooth outlines. All right. Now, let's see the results of one more attribute here. I'm going to switch back to the RGB image, Zoom out a little bit, so I can take in the image at 100%, and I'll click that down-pointing arrowhead, and notice that Hardness value right there. What it allows you to do is paint with the soft brush and it can sometimes be useful, where mimicking the natural softness of the focus of the images concerned. So I'll crank that value all the way down to 0%. Now, you can also change that value from the keyboard if you're so inclined, I'll press the Enter or Return key once in order to accept that value.

Then I'll press the right bracket key a couple of times in order to increase the size of my cursor. Now, if you want to increase the Hardness from the keyboard, then press Shift+], and each time you do so, you'll increase the Hardness in 25% increments. So I press that keyboard shortcut twice in a row, which means, if I go ahead and click on the down-pointing arrowhead, I've increased the Hardness value to 50%. If I want to take it back down to 0%, then I'll press Shift+[ twice in a row.] And because it works in 25% increments as well, when I click the down-pointing arrowhead, I'll see my Hardness value is now 0%.

And that works with any brush inside of Photoshop, by the way. All right. Now, I'm going to go ahead and paint inside the foot, as I have so many times now. And I grew the selection a little bit more than before, that's fine. I'm going to Alt+Drag down here in the shadow in order to take some of that shadow away. Now, because I'm painting with a soft brush, Photoshop is eeking into the edge a little differently than it did before. So I'm going to have to add that toe back in. I'm really not going to be able to get the results I'm looking for, but I'll keep working at it here.

First, I'll Alt or Option+Drag, and then I'll just go ahead and click inside the foot. Anyway, let's see what I've come up with. I'll drop down once again to that Save selection icon, Alt+Click or Option+Click on it, and we'll call this New Channel softer, and I'll click OK. Now let's take a look at what we've got. I'll Deselect the image by pressing Ctrl +D or Command+D on the Mac and click on that softer selection, and you can see where things went wrong, thanks to the fact I was working with that soft brush, we ended up getting some very strange transitions around that right-hand toe.

But we also get more of a naturalist blur up here in the top region. But tell you what, in my opinion, you're better off sticking with a hard-edged brush, which is what we use to achieve the superior smoother mask, and then if need be, go ahead and soften the results using something like Gaussian Blur after you've generated the selection outline. All right. So that's how the tool works. In the nice exercise we'll actually do something with it.

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