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In this first chapter on selecting colors, we are going to use the Magic Wand tool, the old faithful. It's been in Photoshop forever. It is right there on the Tool panel. Its purpose is to select pixels that are like the pixel that you click on, and it does so based not upon color similarity, but upon the similarity in brightness values, and it does so according to its Tolerance setting. Remember, we have levels on a scale of 0 to 255. The Tolerance setting also goes from 0 to 255. 32 is the default.
Higher numbers will result in bigger areas being selected, lower numbers in smaller areas. A Tolerance level of 32 means that it's going to select 32 levels brighter than the pixel that you click on and 32 levels darker than the pixel that you click on, so a range of 64 levels. When I click right there, we see that we get most, but not all of the sky selected. You've probably got a similar result, but a slightly different result and that's because you clicked in a slightly different place, no matter.
So I could, at this point, realizing that I've not selected, although I wanted to select, increase the Tolerance. But rather than do that, what I am going to do is I am just going to hold down the Shift key and come and click on the area that didn't get included first time around. And now I have a full selection of the sky. How come it works so well? Well, it works so well because we have very well-defined contrast with the buildings against the sky. So what I can do next is select the buildings, which is really what I'm after and I do that by inversing the selection.
So I've started by selecting the inverse of what I want and then inversing it to get what I really want which is the buildings. What I do with the buildings, well, that's up to me, but now that I have that active selection, the change that I make, whatever change that is will only affect the buildings. Let's look at a slightly more involved scenario here and we want to do the same thing; we want to select the sky, maybe because we want to mask the sky, we don't want to see the sky any longer or we want a different sky. Whatever we want to do, we need to begin by selecting the sky.
And I'll click on the sky and we see that what happens is we get a full selection of the sky until we come up against a barrier, until the pixels aren't alike enough. Now I could, based upon what we did in the previous example, hold down the Shift key to get all these trapped areas of sky. But that's going to be really dull and it's going to take me a very long time to do that. And the result wouldn't be very good. So instead, what I am going to do is come to the Select menu and choose Similar.
And then that's going to select all of the pixels that are like the one I initially clicked on regardless of whether they are separated from the original area by a color barrier or not. So, that's fine except that I now have more stuff selected than I actually want because I've got some areas down in the foreground that have become part of my selection and I don't want them to be part of my selection. So what I am going to do is get my Polygonal Lasso tool and remove these. Let me just mention that in the previous step, as an alternative to using Select Similar, I could have anticipated the problem and turned off the contiguous option, so a couple of different ways to get that.
But, I now need to remove these foreground pixels from the selection. And to do that, I am going to hold down the Alt or the Option key and then just draw a marquee around them very roughly and they are now removed from that selection. I can now inverse the selection, Command+Shift+I, I now have the Waltzer sign selected rather than the sky and whatever I want to do with that. Well, I'll probably want to refine the edge of it and then use this selection as the basis for a mask.
But I am going to skip the Refined Edge part; I am just going to go straight to making it into a mask. I'll double-click on the background layer to unlock that and then click on the Add layer mask and there we have the mask. And this is going to require some refinement just by painting on the mask itself. So that's our starting point, needs a bit of refinement. But this was achieved using the Magic Wand tool to select the color, or more accurately, the brightness of the sky, inverse that, make that selection into a mask.
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