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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.
Oftentimes, your initial selection won't exactly fit the image content that you're trying to select. That's when the Transform Selection command comes in handy. To show you how that command works, I'd like to select just the placard on this newsstand, so I can brighten only that area of the photograph. I'll start by selecting the Rectangular Marquee tool in the toolbox, and dragging out an initial, rough selection. Because the photograph was taken at an angle, this rectangular marquee selection doesn't exactly match the image content that I want to select.
That's okay, because I'm going to use the Transform Selection command to change the size and the shape of this initial selection. I'll go up to the Select menu, and I'll choose Transform Selection. Now, keep in mind that this command is different than the transform commands that are found under the Edit menu. Those commands are used to transform image content, but here, I just want to transform the selection border. I'll choose Transform Selection, and that adds a bounding box with anchor points around the selection border.
I can use these anchor points to change the width or the height of the selection border, or if I click on a corner anchor point and drag, I can change both the width and the height, essentially reshaping my initial selection. If I hold the Shift key, I'll constrain proportions as I resize the selection border. And if I hold the Option key, I can resize the selection border from the center point in or out. I found that one of the most useful Transform commands for reshaping a selection border is the distort command.
To access that command, I can either hold the Command or Ctrl key on my keyboard and then click and drag a corner anchor point like this, or I can right-click inside the selection boundary. That's Ctrl+Click if you're using a one-button mouse. That brings up this contextual menu from which I can choose the Distort command. Now, without holding down the Command or Ctrl key, I can move my mouse over a corner anchor point, and drag, and move it so that it just fits the content of the image that I'm trying to select.
I'll go to each of the four corners, and drag those anchor points into place, one by one. When I'm satisfied with the result, I'll go up to the Options bar and click the check mark there to commit the transform. Now I have a selection border that just fits the part of the image that I'm trying to select. With this selection in place, I'm going to add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer by going to the Adjustments panel and clicking the Brightness/Contrast icon. That adds this Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer in the Layers panel.
Notice that you no longer see the selection border in the image. That's because when you create an adjustment layer with a selection active, the marching ants are translated into a layer mask, which is basically another way of representing a selection. Now, I'm going to go up to the Adjustments panel, and I'm going to drag the Brightness slider to the right. That affects only the placard on the newsstand. So, as you can see, the Transform Selection command can be a really powerful way to fine-tune an initial selection so that it exactly fits the content of the image that you're trying to select.
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