Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video The Quick Selection tool, part of Photoshop: Selections (2013).
The Quick Selection tool has been in Photoshop for a few versions now, and it's quite useful. It allows you to select pixels based on criteria. Now, the Magic Wand often leads to lots of clicking, and clicking to add, clicking to subtract. The Quick Selection tool on the other hand applies a bit more intelligence in its selection algorithm, and tends to do a better job of naturally detecting the edges. Let me show you how it works. In this case here, you see a couple of modified images. For example, up top here, I've made a selection of the handle and then shifted its color.
Over here, we've made a selection of the overall plane wing, and I was able to isolate that so that it was a bit more selective in its adjustment. Let me show you how it works. And I'll start with this meat hook stuck into the side of the barn. To begin with, I'll choose the Quick Selection tool. You'll note it appears above the Magic Wand tool, which indicates preference of selection. That looks pretty good. I'll tell it to auto-enhance in fact. And as I click and drag, you see there with just one click, it got the proper selection.
On the other hand, the Magic Wand tool tends to sometimes be a bit finickier. There was the first click of the Magic Wand, Shift click, shift click, Shift click, Shift click. And it took almost five or six clicks before it got a good selection. On the other hand, the Quick Selection tool with a quick click and drag did pretty well. That looks good. And I'm going to click Refine Edge to make this a bit easier. Using the smart radius we'll grow that, and apply just a little bit of feather in shifting outward.
I've got my active selection, and I can now make a hue adjustment. I'll choose Colorize, and dial in the color that I want for the handle. I can put the saturation level in. That looks pretty good. Remember, if you ever need to refine it, just click on the mask. And by clicking the Mask Edge button, you could further feather that adjustment as well as shift it. And in this case that's working quite well. Because what I'm trying to do there is pick up a little bit of the orange spill.
So you see some of the orange reflected on the wood is now gone. All right, let's close that. I don't need to save the changes. And take a look at this image. Again the Magic Wand tool leads to a lot of clicking, and then subtracting and trying again and back and forth. On the other hand the Quick Selection tool is fairly intelligent, you simply click and start to drag, and you will note how it tries to find things. If you release, you can go to another part of the document and start to drag as well.
The Option key will subtract if you need it. Here we go. And fairly quickly and intelligently, it will find and make an active selection. And by just clicking here on these little outcroppings, I can make it pretty accurate. There we go. Remember, you could adjust the size of the brush coming up and using the side slider here as well as the hardness. And if you want to use shortcuts, just use the shortcut of right or left bracket.
Right bracket for a bigger brush, left bracket for smaller. That's looking pretty good. I'm just panning around now. Looks like I've got just about everything. Left bracket, smaller brush. Let's pick up that little edge there. Very good. And to me, there we go. Looks pretty good. Looks like I got just about all the areas that I wanted. Let's Option click here to deselect that part of the wing, and Cmd or Ctrl + 0 to zoom out. Refine Edge, Smart Radius, turn that up a bit.
Looking pretty good. And now I'll add the curves adjustment. And with the On Image tool here, it's very simple to grab some of the shadowy regions, pull those down for some contrast and drama, and then come up to a highlight and lift that up to pop it. And there's my simple adjustment to really add some drama into that shot. And I like that, because the shadows are much richer. And it makes the shot look a lot better. Remember, Select > Reselect is a great shortcut.
If you want to then take advantage of that same selection to put a little bit of vibrance in. And then, Select > Reselect, Select > Inverse, would make it very easy for you to then desaturate the background, as well as darken it down a bit so it's not as impactful drawing your eye to the front. Remember, that same trick we talked about before of controlling tone and saturation.
And with one simple selection, I was able to make four isolated adjustments. Now if you're on Photoshop CC, I absolutely love the extra step of Select All. Copy merged, and paste, and then I would encourage you to take advantage of making that a Smart Object and using the Camera Raw filter. So now you can add in some additional selective contrast there with the clarity slider, as well as control the overall balance of vibrance and saturation.
And put a little post-crop vignette on to focus the viewer's eye, as well as take advantage of sharpening. And you see before, after, just that much more detail and grit and the texture of the metal is really coming through
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. We're honored to host this content in our library.
- What are selections?
- Creating masks from selections
- Moving a selection
- Selecting with the Quick Selection tool
- Transforming a selection
- Using the Refine Edge command
- Selecting a color or tonal range throughout the image
- Making a selection with the Pen tool
- Saving a selection as an alpha channel
- Creating a selection from multiple channels with the Calculations command