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A lot of the time when you're working in Photoshop, you're going to want to make changes to an isolated section of an image, and selections and masking help us do this. Probably, the most common selection tools in Photoshop are the Marquee tools and the Lasso tools. You can access the Marquee tool by tapping the M key and the Lasso tool by tapping the L key. Let's start with the Marquee tool and I'm going to open a New document at the Default Photoshop Size. We'll zoom in to fill the screen with white to make sure that we can see the selection or the marching ants that we're going to draw.
With the Marquee tool selected, if you click- and-drag out, you'll drag out your selection. If you position your cursor inside of the selection and click-and-drag, you can reposition the selection and you're not moving any of the pixels underneath the selection. You're only moving the marquee. To deselect, you can click anywhere inside or outside of the selection with the Selection tool. If we want a square, we can click to start dragging the marquee and hold down the Shift key.
That will constrain our selection to a square. Likewise, if we were dragging with the Elliptical Marquee tool, it would constrain our selection to a circle. If I want to drag a selection from the center, I can hold down the Option or the Alt key and then start dragging. You can see here how the selection is dragging from the center outwards. Of course, we combine that with the Shift key and get a perfect square. If we wanted to add to this selection, we can either hold down the Shift key or we can select the second icon in the Options Bar.
Now if I click-and-drag out, I can add this additional area to my selection. I can click-and-drag again to add additional area. If I wanted to subtract a portion of the selection, I can select the third icon. You'll notice that each time I select one of these different icons, the actual icon in the image area changes. Here I have the crosshairs with the minus (-) which is telling it's going to subtract. If I choose the second icon, then I get the crosshairs with a plus (+) telling me that I'm going to add to my selection.
So let's go ahead and subtract out this area from the selection. I can click-and-drag again to subtract out that area. What we're doing when we create these selections is we're creating a mask, so that if we do something to our image, whatever we do will only happen within the selection or within those marching ants. For example, if I go to the Edit menu and I choose Fill, I can fill this with a color, maybe yellow. Click OK and OK again, you can see that the whole canvas wasn't filled; only the area inside the marching ants or inside of the selection was changed.
Now in order to deselect with this third icon selected, I can't just click in this area because Photoshop is expecting me to click-and-drag, but I can use the keyboard shortcut Cmd+ or Ctrl+D, or I can use the Select menu to Deselect. If you accidentally deselect a selection, you can use the Select menu again in order to Reselect it. For now I'll leave it deselected and I'm going to switch over to the Elliptical Marquee tool. If I wanted to punch a hole in this rectangle here, I could click-and-drag in order to create a circle. Watch how I drag.
I'll start my point of origin up in the corner here of the rectangle and click-and-drag. If I hold down the Shift key, we'll get a perfect circle. What I wanted to show you was that when you draw with the Elliptical Marquee tool, you're not going to start drawing from here. You want to imagine that there are parallel lines here to the top and to the side and you need to start your point of origin there. If we want to add another circle, we can select the second icon and click-and-drag in order to add another circle.
Again, hold down the Shift key to constrain it. At this point if I like the selections but they're just a little bit too large, I would want to transform them. However, you don't want to use the Edit menu, Free Transform because this would transform the pixels. Instead, we'll go under the Select menu and we'll choose Transform Selection. Then I can hold down the Option and the Shift key to transform from the center, reposition them, and when I tap Enter or Return, you'll see that none of the pixels were transformed, only the selection marquees.
So I can select Edit and then Fill, and we could fill this with another color, or in this case White, in order to punch a hole through the rectangle. If we wanted to draw some free-form lines, then we can select the Lasso tool. You'll notice that as I draw, I can create any kind of shape that I want. If I want a sharp-edged shape, then I'll move over to the Polygon Lasso tool. I'll click once to deselect and now if I click, click, click, and click, you can see that Photoshop is drawing straight lines in between each one of my clicks.
When I'm finished, I can either double- click to close the selection or I can position my cursor over the start of the selection, I get the little circle that tells me that it would close that selection and I can click. So the Marquee tools are excellent for drawing your geometric shapes. The Lasso tool is much better for free-form shapes. And of course, you can use any of these in combination with each other to make more complex selections.
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