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The most basic Selection tools in Photoshop are the Marquee Selection tools and the Lasso tool. So, let's spend a little bit of time learning how these work and how you can customize them as you are working with them. So, here they are at the top of the tools panel, the Rectangular Marquee tool and the Lasso tool. They have letter shortcuts assigned to them. If I press the letter M, that switches you to the Rectangular Marquee tool. If I press the letter L, that takes you to the Lasso tool. Let's go back to the Marquee tool by pressing M. There is more than one Marquee tool. If you hold down Shift and press M, you can cycle back and forth between the Elliptical and the Rectangular.
So, it's just a toggle. Shift+M to go back and forth. If you don't like the keyboard shortcut route, you can of course click on the tool and you will see the other tools in that slot, including some special case Selection tools where you can select just a single row or a single column if you need to do that. Let's go back to the Rectangular Marquee tool. The way the Marquee tool works, if you click and drag in a diagonal direction, you will be dragging out a random rectangle and you are drawing out the width and height at the same time. If you want to draw from the center as you are dragging, you just hold down the Option or Alt key and you will see it changes.
Instead of going from corner to corner, it goes from the center out from wherever you clicked and dragged. Now, the modifier keys are modifying the current behavior. So, if you want that modification, you need to hold down the key and let go of the mouse first. If I let go of the key first, like I am doing now, you will see it goes back to the unmodifier behavior. So, I am still having the mouse down. Hold down the modifier. It alters the behavior. Let go of the modifier. It doesn't modify it any more. So, again, when you are holding down a modifier key and you want that, let go of the mouse first then the key and it will get that behavior that you want. Okay.
So, that is just a basic regular rectangular selection. Once you have a selection started, if you put your mouse in the middle of it, you will see the cursor changes to show you that if you click and drag you will be moving that selection somewhere else. Note that you are not actually moving any pixels. You are just moving the selection marquee. To move pixels, you actually need to use the Move tool. That actually moves content. The selection tools just move the selection itself, by clicking and dragging. If you click anywhere outside of a selection, you will deselect that selection. So, selections are very temporary.
If you want to save a selection and use it another time, we will cover that later on. So, just a basic selection, you just click and drag, click inside to move it, click outside it to deselect it. Once you have a selection started, let's click and drag here. If I want to constrain it to draw a perfect square, I will hold down the Shift key. And now as I drag, it constrains it. Instead of just a random rectangle, it's going to be a perfect square. So, I will go ahead and click outside to deselect that. Now, if I want to draw a perfect square from the center of where I click and drag, then hold both modifier keys down together.
So, Shift+Option on the Mac, Shift+ Alt on Windows and click and drag. You will be drawing a perfect square from the center of where you dragged out initially. Now, once you have a selection started, if you want to add to an existing selection, you hold down the Shift key. You will see the cursor changes to a little plus sign on the main crosshair. If I want to subtract from a selection, I will let go of the Shift key here, I hold down the Option or Alt key, and it turns into a little minus sign on the cursor. So, let's go back to Shift to add. So, if I just click anywhere else in the image and click and drag again, I am adding a second selection to this marquee here.
Now, you will see that I am getting a random rectangle. I am not getting a perfect square. So, what if I wanted a perfect square at the same time? Well, here is where it gets a little tricky. The Shift key is adding to the current selection. As long as you keep your mouse button down, don't let go of the mouse. If you want that next selection that you are adding to also be constrained as a perfect square, simply let go of the Shift key as you have the active selection, then press it again. Now you are constraining that new selection to be a perfect square as well. You have got to be a little nimble with your fingers there. Okay.
Let's do that again. Let's add a third square. Again, we will hold down the Shift key to start adding to the selection. But it's not constrained. If I want that third one to be constrained, let go of the Shift key, keep the mouse button down, hold down the Shift key again, and it's back to being a perfect square again. Awesome! All right. Now, if I want to subtract from a selection, we hold down the Option or Alt key. Same principle. Click and drag and you start taking a bite out of those selected pixels here. And when I let go of the mouse, you can see I have made a kind of non-uniform selection here. So, I can actually create some pretty complex shapes just with the basic building blocks, by adding and subtracting to an existing selection.
You can also switch from tool to tool while you have an active selection. So, if I want to now do elliptical selections, I can type Shift+M to switch me to the Elliptical Marquee tool, or I can click on that tool slot and switch to it manually. Same principles apply. So if I want to add an elliptical selection to the current selection, hold down the Shift key, start dragging. Again, it's doing an oval shape at first. If I wanted to do a perfect circle, because I already have an existing selection, let go of the Shift key, press it down again, and now that new selection is a perfect circle.
Now, as I mouse over an existing selection and let go, it's going to merge and create this union shape here. Now, if I want to make a subtraction, hold down the Option key again. I am going to click in the center or the middle of this active area and take a bite out of it. So, Option+Drag, Alt+Drag. If I want that to be a perfect circle, let go of the Option key. Press it again. Hold down the Shift key, and I am doing a perfect circular bite out of that selection by holding both of those keys down at the same time.
This just takes practice to get a feel for it. I am throwing a lot of keys at you. Once you have done it a few times, it will feel a lot more comfortable. All right. Again, to deselect, just click anywhere outside of your existing selection. Well, I didn't mean to do that. I want to get my selection back. You can undo the last thing you did there by just doing Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. What does it mean to have a selection? So, a selection is basically a mask. Anything inside the selection will be affected by whatever you do, such as painting or running a filter or doing an adjustment or whatever.
Everything outside the selection is protected. It's masked. So, if I press the B key on my keyboard and switch to the Brush tool, you see I have a very small brush here. I am going to make the brush size a lot bigger by using my right bracket key on the keyboard. Just tap that a bunch of times to make it big. Now, if I start painting by clicking and dragging, you will see as I am painting outside the selection, nothing happens. But when I go into the selection, this is what I mean by just a very basic mask. Everything that's selected gets affected. Everything that's not selected gets protected.
So, I am obviously going to undo that painting, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. Switch back to a Selection tool. I am going to press L this time for the Lasso tool. Same principles apply. If I want to add to my current selection, hold down the Shift key. The Lasso tool lets me do freeform drawing. So, I can just create any random shape. If I want to subtract with the Lasso tool, hold down the Option key and drag through and take a bite out of that selection with a random shape. So, by switching between the Elliptical, the Rectangular, and the Lasso tools, you have a rich set of basic tools to create some pretty complex selection shapes, just by mixing and matching and holding down various modifier keys as you go.
Then when you are ready to deselect, just click anywhere outside the selection to make the marching ants go away.
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