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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
I'm still hard at work inside of ManlySawimage.jpg which is found inside of the 08_selection folder. And in this exercise, we are going to take a swing at selecting the saw blade using the Quick Selection tool, but even given that we are using a tool with a moniker quick, this isn't likely to be a fast process, because there's not much contrast between the blade and the background. So it's going to be pretty hard for Photoshop to see. At any time you're thinking of wandering into either strange or dangerous territory, you're not sure how well things are going to work, it's always a good idea to get in the habit of visiting the History panel.
I'll show you what I mean. You can click on the History icon here, or if you want to, you can go to the Window menu, choose the History command or if you loaded dekeKeys, press Alt+F9, Option+F9 on the Mac. And you'll see your entire selection history right there. I am going to go ahead and click on this little Camera icon or even better press the Alt key or the Option key and click on it, and that way, you force the display of the New Snapshot dialog box so you can name the snapshot as you create it. And I'll call this selection safety or something along those lines, meaning that I can of course come back to it, and it will appear right there at the top of the History panel, and it'll retain not only the image, but also the selection outline in progress.
Now, I hasten to add, this is a great safety. It is a backup, but just don't crash, because then you'll lose it, because you can't save history to a file on your hard drive. It only exists in Photoshop's memory for the links that the image is open. Fortunately, there are ways to permanently save selection outlines. I'll tell you about them later. But for now, I am going to go ahead and close the History panel and let's go ahead and zoom in on that saw blade. I am pressing Ctrl+Spacebar, Command+ Spacebar on the Mac and dragging to the right to zoom in like crazy there.
And then, I'm going to over a little bit and press Ctrl+Plus or Command+Plus to zoom in into 200%. So we are seeing the blade up close and personal. Since we already know the Magic Wand tool is just not going to select this guy. Let's switch over to the Quick Selection tool and you can do that by pressing the W key if you like. Now notice that we don't have many options to work with. We do have Sample All Layers that behaves the same way as it does with the Magic Wand tool. We've got Refine Edge this, thing has become an enormous command inside of Photoshop CS5.
So big that I am devoting an entire chapter to the topic in my Advanced series. So we'll come back to that later. But meanwhile, we just have this brush setting here and Auto Enhance. Now, based on my experience, it's always a good idea to turn on Auto Enhance. I have become a fan of leaving that checkbox on at all times, because it does a great job of smoothing out the really crummy selection outlines that are otherwise created by this tool. It does make the tool behave slightly erratically sometimes, but between you and me, it always behaves slightly erratically.
So the erratical factor just goes up incrementally. And then we have this Brush Size option. What I'd like you to do is click this down pointing arrowhead. And I am going to go ahead and leave the Size value at 30 pixels for right now but I'm going to crank the Hardness value all the way up to 100%. That helps prevent the tool from leaking the selection out beyond the edges of the saw blade. All right, I'll go ahead and press the Enter key a couple of times there. And now, I'm going to drag over this deselected region right there. And somehow, in playing around with the settings, I change the behavior of the tool.
So notice I just created an absolutely new selection and deselected everything else. I am going to press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that. We want to make sure that this option right here Add to selection is turned on as it is by default, but for some reason, it just went off for me. And now I'll try dragging again and this time I do add to the selection, nice. And notice that I'm not really going to be able to drag up toward the tip of the saw blade, because my brush is too big. If you want to change the size of that brush on the fly, couple of things you can do.
One is that you can go to this down pointing arrow head and change the Size value right there. But it can be a little tiresome to have to keep going back to that same option over and over again. So you have a keyboard shortcut. If you want to increase the size of the brush, you press the right bracket key like so, and if you want to decrease the size of the brush you press the left bracket key. And I mean the square bracket keys that are to the right of the P as in Paul key on an American keyboard. And I'm going to reduce that brush size to about 15.
And I can see a brush preview up here in the Options Bar. All right, now I am going to drag across this saw blade like so and release and let it do its calculation. Now, what I mean by that is, let me go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that maneuver so you can see it again. Watch what the selection outline looks like as I draw it. And then as soon as I release, notice there is some garbage up there, Photoshop goes ahead and fills in those gaps and that's the function of the Quick Selection tool, just looking for the edges inside the image.
It's also a function of Auto Enhance redrawing the selection after the fact. So Auto Enhance also slows things down but very slightly. It just means that there's another calculation it has to go on. I am going to drag over this deselected area of the image as well. Now, for the saw blade right here, this is going to be tricky. I'll try to drag along it, but notice as often as not, it goes too far out, then it clutches back. Actually that worked out pretty nicely that time. Let's see how well it fares over here.
In this case, it ends up selecting down into the blue region. So in other words, it kind of softened the corner on us. Now, if that happens to you, a great tool for restoring a sharp corner inside Photoshop, although it's a little tricky, but it works well is this guy right here, the Magnetic Lasso tool. So I am going to go ahead and select it, and then I am going to press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, which allows me to deselect the image and notice that I get a little minus sign next to my cursor. Now, I am going to press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and I'm going to click like so.
And now, I have released. I have released the key, I have released the mouse button because I only needed the key down long enough to tell Photoshop I was subtracting, and you don't drag with this tool. You just click with it. Now I am moving my cursor into this region like so, and I am going to click in this corner. So go slowly around this area and then come back like so and double click. And that should deselect that little corner right there. All right so the question becomes, is this selection outline any good? Looking at it, it's hard to know, because all we are seeing is marching ants.
That doesn't give us much clarity, because we're just seeing basically the threshold between the most selected pixels and the least selected pixels in the image. We don't know what the edges look like at all. We can't tell something is going on kind of garbagy up here. So we might want to take care of that by further painting with the Quick Selection tool like so. You can also do just a little bit of spot clicking like this. And by the way, if you go too far, like so, and it ends up selecting into the sky, then press and hold the Alt key or the Option key, and you'll see that you get a little minus sign inside your cursor.
And then go ahead and paint that region away. But anyway what about the rest? Now that nothing obvious I guess is wrong with this selection outline, how do we gauge whether we've done a good job and how do we fix any problems? I will answer those questions in the next exercise.
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