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Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.
The Magnetic Lasso tool is one of those tools than often gets overlooked, but it's useful when you need to select an object with a high-contrast edge like these balloons against the blue sky. With the Magnetic Lasso tool, you can get this job done without even holding your mouse down. You might say it's the lazy woman's way of selecting. I'm going to choose the Magnetic Lasso tool from the toolbox where it can be found in the flyout menu with the other Lasso tools. Then I'm going to move over to this balloon and I'm going to click once right on its edge and then I'm going to lift my finger off the mouse and I'm just moving the mouse around the balloon with my finger not pressing down on the mouse button.
As I do, the Magnetic Lasso is laying down anchor points, attaching this thread to the balloon. Now once in a while it will make a mistake, like it did here, where it's actually attaching itself to some of the pixels in the sky. Here is how you back up to fix a mistake like that. I'm going to just move this thread back and then I am going to press the Delete key, that's the Backspace key on a PC, and that will delete those anchor points and then I can continue to move around. Also, if I find a problem area like that, I can click to add my own anchor points, rather than relying on the tool to set the anchor points automatically.
When I get to an area where there really is no problem and there is nothing out to decide. I can make it easier on myself by increasing the width of the brush tip. To do that on the fly, I'm first going to press the Caps Lock key so that I can see what the current width of that brush tip is. Then I'm going to use my Right Bracket key to increase the brush size, just like I do with any Brush tool. Now as I go around the balloon here, I don't have to worry about being so close to the balloon. There is another mistake. Let me back up and start it again. So you have to keep your eye on it, but it pretty much does the work for you.
When I get to the beginning, I'll click and there is my selection. There are a couple of other options in the Options bar that I'll explain to you. The Frequency option governs how many anchor points are set down around the edge. If you're working on a bigger image then you'll need more anchor points to keep the selection through to the edge. If you are working on an object that doesn't have as much contrast with its background as this one does, you might want to increase the Contrast field a little bit too. But the Magnetic Lasso has given me that selection that I want in this case.
Even though the Magnetic Lasso tool is often hidden from view behind the other Lasso tools in the toolbox, do keep it in mind as an option, when you are working on an object with a high-contrast edge.
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