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In Photoshop CS5: Selections in Depth, author Jan Kabili offers a comprehensive tour of Photoshop CS5's selection features. Selection options are the key to performing creative imaging tasks, such as isolating photo adjustments and making image composites. This course covers selection basics as well as the nuances of selections, including selecting hair, refining masks, saving and recalling selections, working in Quick Mask mode, and creating selections based on image properties, such as luminosity and color channels. Exercise files are included with the course.
The Color Range command is a way to make a selection based on color that gives you lots of interactive control as you make your selection. In this case, I'd like to change the color of just this purple thistle in the foreground, adding some yellow to it to make it stand out. I'll go up to the Select menu, and I'll choose Color Range. That opens the Color Range dialog box. Notice that my Localized Color Clusters control is unchecked. If you're following along, uncheck yours for now too. I am going to start making a selection of that foreground thistle by using the Eyedropper tools.
I'll click once with the default eyedropper, and that begins by selection. And I can see a preview of the selection as it currently stands, here in the Preview area of the Color Range dialog box. To add to that selection, I'll get the next eyedropper, the Add to Selection eyedropper, or I can just hold the Shift key on my keyboard. And with that eyedropper, I'm going to click and drag over the other parts of this purple thistle. And that's adding them to this selection. It could be difficult to see exactly what's selected over here in this small preview, so I am going to go down to the Selection Preview menu, and I'm going to change that from None to Black Matte.
And that gives me a preview of what I have selected over here in the document window. The selected areas are in color against this black matte. Here, I can clearly see that I don't have all of this thistle selected, and that I have some thistle selected up here that I don't want to include in the selection, and that I have a few rocks included down here. So I'm now going to click several more times on the purple thistle that I do want to select, trying to include more of it in my selection. And then I'm going to go to the Fuzziness slider, and I am going to drag that slightly to the right.
As I do so, I'm increasing the range of color that's included in my selection. And I am also telling Photoshop how it's selected to make partially selected pixels, because the Color Range command does allow for partial selection of pixels. Now I want to eliminate these other purple areas from the selection and the stones down here at the bottom. And this is where the Localized Color Clusters command comes into play. I am going to click in its check box, and that makes the Range slider available. I'll drag the Range slider over to the left, and as I do, you can start to see the other thistles and the stones disappear from my selection.
What I'm doing with the Range slider is telling Photoshop that those areas are too far away from the areas where I initially clicked with the eyedroppers to be included in the selection. Now that I have the selection that I want, I'd like to show you a few more commands in this dialog box. There is an Invert command here. If I click in its check box, I've got everything selected except the purple thistle. I'll click it again. I am going to go back to the Selection preview and set that to None, so that I can see my image in the document window.
I'd like to show you another way that I can select colors, other than using the controls I just showed you. And that is to go up to the Select menu, and from here I can choose a preset color. So if there were blues in this image, and I wanted to select all of the blues that fall within this preset category, I could try choosing blues from this menu. The problem with that is that it makes the other sliders unavailable. And I like to use those to fine-tune my selections. So I usually don't use these presets; instead, I use Sampled Colors.
There is one more choice here to take note of, and that is this Highlights option. If I choose that, I'm just selecting all of the highlights in the image, which offers one way to make a luminosity selection in an image. But I'm going to go back and set that to Sampled Colors, and I'm going to accept the selection that I made by clicking OK. And now you can see that selection here in the document window. I am going to use that selection to add some yellow to this purple thistle. I'll make a photo filter adjustment layer to do that, going to the Adjustments panel and clicking this icon which adds a photo filter adjustment layer in the Layers panel.
Notice that there is a layer mask on this adjustment layer, just as there is on every adjustment layer. Because I have a selection active when I made this adjustment layer, the marching ants are no longer visible in the document window; instead, they've been converted into this layer mask, which as you know from other movies, is just another way to view a selection. To see that layer mask, I am going to hold the Option key on the Mac, or the Alt key on the PC, and click on the layer mask thumbnail on the photo filter adjustment layer. The black areas of the mask are going to hide my photo filter adjustment, but the white and gray areas of the mask will allow the photo filter adjustment to show through.
I'll Option or Alt click again on that photo filter adjustment layer thumbnail. And then I'll go up to the Adjustments panel, which is now changed to show controls for the photo filter adjustment. I'll go to the Filter menu, and I'm going to choose deep yellow as the color of the filter. And then I'll go to the Density slider, and I move that to the right to increase the strength of this photo filter adjustment. And you can see that I've now changed the color of just the selected foreground thistle in the document window.
So as you can see, the Color Range command that I used to select parts of this foreground thistle really lets you get down to a macro level, selecting just the colors that you want, so that you can make changes to them in your image. Give this a try the next time you want to make a color-based selection.
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