Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video The Quick Selection tool, part of Photoshop CS6: Selections and Layer Masking.
If you've ever looked at an image and wanted to create a selection of a particular area but you really thought that selection was going to be difficult to create, then you might want to take a very close look at the Quick Selection tool. Not only is it quick to use, in many cases, it can produce a very, very good selection for you or at least a good starting point for that selection. Let's assume that I'd like to create a selection of the lens in the foreground here without selecting the background of the photo. This is actually a task that you might not expect any tool in Photoshop to do a good job at, but the Quick Selection tool actually, in many cases, can do a great job in this type of a situation. I'll go ahead and choose the Quick Selection tool from the toolbox. You might notice the Quick Selection tool has some options that look a little bit different from the most Selection tools in Photoshop. We no longer have the Intersect with Selection option, we just have a New Selection option, an Add to Selection option, and the Subtract from Selection option.
And those buttons look different than they do for the other Selection tools in Photoshop. While I normally work with the New Selection option, with the Quick Selection tool, it will actually automatically switch to the Add to Selection tool as soon as we start creating a selection. So, I normally leave it set to the Add to Selection option. I also make sure that the Hardness setting for the brush, the Quick Selection tool is in effect a Brush tool, is set to 100%. That helps to make sure that when I'm painting, I'm being as precise as possible.
I also generally turn on the Sample All Layers check box. Now, in this case, I have an image where there's only one layer anyway. But this helps ensure that I'm always creating a selection that is based on how the image actually looks. The only time I might turn that option off is if I'm working with a composite image and I want to create a selection of a particular object on a given layer. In other words, I don't want to take into account other layers in the image. I also always leave the Auto-Enhance option turned on. In theory, that Auto-Enhance option might cause a less than perfect selection, but in my experience, it generally creates a better result than with Auto-Enhance off. And so, I've never had to turn off Auto-Enhance when creating a selection. Those options are sticky which means all of these settings will stay as they are the next time I'm working on an image in Photoshop.
And so I really don't have to worry about the Options bar too much when working with the Quick Selection tool. I'll take a quick glance to make sure everything is as I left it, but otherwise I can just start working in the image and that part is actually incredibly quick and easy. I'll adjust the size of the brush using the Left Square Bracket key to reduce the size of the brush or the Right Square Bracket key to increase the size of the brush. And then, I'll simply Click and Drag throughout the area that I want to select. You'll see that I get a pretty good result from the start.
I'll go ahead and press the Left Square Bracket key a few times to reduce the size of the brush. And then paint in some additional areas that got missed. I'll paint as accurately as I can and never try to make it easy as possible for the Quick Selection tool to produce a good result for me. And that looks to be pretty good. I'll paint along the top of the lens here and I think we're in pretty good shape. But notice that I have an area down below that got included in the selection though it should not have been. Somewhere that area was just determined to be close enough in terms of the overall Tone, Color, and Texture relative to the areas that I painted on. But I can very easily remove that portion of the image from the selection. I'll hold the Alt key on Windows or the Option key on Macintosh, in order to access the Subtract from Selection option.
And then, I'll simply paint across this area of the image to subtract it from the selection. In this way, I can continue adding and subtracting so I'll release the Alt or Option key to get back to my Add to Selection option which was active initially. And I'll add that small area to the selection, but otherwise I think I'm in pretty good shape here. I have a selection that was created very, very quickly and yet is quite accurate. I would still want to zoom in to areas of the selection to make sure it's as accurate as possible. For example, I can see a small area here that is a little less than ideal.
I could continue working with the Quick Selection tool, but, of course, I can also use other tools in order to fine tune that selection, cleaning things up to make that selection as accurate as possible. So as you can see, that Quick Selection tool is very quick to work with and produces very good results quite easily.
- Anti-aliasing and selections
- The case for not feathering selections
- Adding, subtracting, and intersecting
- Inverting a selection
- Mixing and matching selection tools
- Advanced selection techniques
- Creating composite images
- Applying targeted adjustments