Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Why select?, part of Photoshop CS4: Selections in Depth.
You're going to learn all kinds of ways to make selections in this course, but just as important as knowing how to make a selection is knowing when and why to make a selection. So I put together this overview of some common situations that call for making a selection. This is one of the few movies in the course in which I'm going to invite you to sit back and just take it all in, rather than work along with me. This photo represents one common selection situation and that's when you want to change the appearance of just part of a layer. Here, if you look in the Layers panel, you'll see that I have a photo that's all on one layer.
I would like to change the color of just the egg and leave the green background as it is. I could try to do that by selecting the Brush tool in the toolbox and with whatever color is in the foreground color box, in this case pink, I could try to paint just inside of the egg. But that's really difficult to do, unless you've made a selection first. So, I'm going to undo that by pressing Command+Z on the Mac or Ctrl+Z on the PC and through the magic of movies, I'm going to bring up a selection that I've already made. In this video I won't be showing you how to make this selections I use, but rather, I'll be talking about what to do with those selections.
So, with this selection active around the egg, now if I come in and paint anywhere in the image, the paint only falls inside of the selected area. Another way to add color inside a selection is to fill with color. So, I'm going to undo again by pressing Command+Z on the Mac, or Ctrl+Z on the PC and to fill with pink, I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and down to the Fill command. In the Fill dialog box that opens, I'll choose to use the Foreground Color, which is that pink I have in the Foreground Color box.
I'm also going to go down to the Blend Mode menu, because rather than fill with solid pink, I'd like to fill with a pink that retains the tones and the drawing on the egg on the photo layer. So, I'm going to change the blending mode of this fill from Normal to Multiply, and then I'll click OK. To eliminate this animated outline around the selection called the marching ants, I'm going to press Command+ D on the Mac, or Ctrl+D on the PC. And I'll be telling you more about how to deselect a selection in another movie.
But for now, I wanted you to see that the selection that I've made has limited the area of the pink fill. Another situation in which a selection comes in handy is when you want to change the appearance of the background of an image. Here I would like everything except for this hat to look more painterly and so I've gone ahead and selected everything except the hat. I'll bring up that selection and now I'm going to apply a filter to the selected area. So I go up to the Filter menu at the top of the screen and I'm going to choose a filter from the Texture category. I'll choose the Texturizer filter.
That opens the big Filter Gallery dialog box. I'm going to leave everything here at its default, but I do want you to take a look at the preview over here, which will show you how the filter is going to effect everything that's selected, which is in this case the background, rather than the object that's the focal point of the image. I'll click OK and back in the document window, I'll deselect by pressing Command+D on the Mac or Ctrl+D on the PC, and you can see the results of using a filter on just the selected background of an image. Here is another example of a common situation in which you'll find yourself using selections, and that is when you take a photograph and you want to fix the brightness, the contrast, or maybe the color of just part of the photograph.
Before adjusting, make a selection to limit the area that's going to be affected by that adjustment. In this case I'd like to impact just the foreground, adding a little brightness and contrast to that area only. So I've made a selection of the foreground of this photograph, and with that selection active, I'm going to make an adjustment layer. To add an adjustment layer, I'll go to the Adjustments panel and I'm going to click on this thumbnail right here to add a Levels adjustment layer to the Layers panel. Notice that in the image, there is no longer a selection.
And the reason for that is that when you have a selection active and you make an adjustment layer, your selection is automatically converted into a layer mask. To show you that layer mask, I'm going down to the new Levels adjustment layer that's been automatically added to the Layers panel. I'm going to hold down the Option key on a Mac or the Alt key on a PC and click on that layer mask thumbnail. Now in the document window, you can see that layer mask. The layer mask is another way to represent the selection that I have made. The selected area is represented here in white, the non-selected area is represented in black, and where the edge of the selection was soft you can see some gray pixels representing a partially selected area.
There are also some little bits of gray and black where I have come in and painted on this layer mask to fine- tune the area that's going to be affected by this adjustment. And now to bring the view of the image, I'll go back to the Layers panel, I'm going to hold down the Option key on a Mac, or the Alt key on a PC, and once again, click on the layer mask on the Levels adjustment layer. Now I'm going to actually make the adjustment by going back to the Adjustments panel and I'm going to click on this white input slider in the Levels adjustment controls and I'll drag to the left, until I come to just under the mound of pixels in the histogram here in the Levels adjustments controls.
That sets the brightest parts of the selected area to pure white. I am also going to take the gray slider and move that slightly to the left, which will brighten up just the selected area of the image. And to show you a before and after, I'll come down to the eye icon at the bottom of the Adjustments panel and I'll click to hide the adjustment and then I'll click again to show you the adjustment. And as you can see, only the area that I'd selected, which is the foreground of this image, has been affected by this adjustment. To show you one more situation in which a selection comes in handy, I'm going to click on this lighthouse image.
I like the foreground of this image, but I think the sky is rather bland. So what I'm going to do is to take just the foreground and combine it with this image of a cloudy sky. So, I'll go back to the lighthouse photograph and I'm going to load a selection that I made in advance of just the foreground area. To combine the selected portion of this photograph with the sky photograph, I'll go to the toolbox and I'll select the Move tool. Then I'll click inside of the selected area of the lighthouse image and drag up to the Document tab for the sky image.
I haven't released my mouse yet. I'm just hovering over the Sky tab, until the sky image appears in the document window. And with my mouse still held down, I'm going to move down into the sky image. When I see this gray rectangle, I'll release my mouse and the selected foreground area of the lighthouse image is brought into the sky image. You can see in the Layers panel that there is a brand new layer containing just that foreground portion of the lighthouse image. And with the Move tool still selected and the new Layer 1 selected in the Layers panel, I'm going to come into the image and drag the lighthouse into place where I want it on top of the Sky layer.
Now that you have a sense of some common situations in which you'll find yourself making selections, I think you've got some important context for the movies to come, in which I'm going to show you all about how to make and use selections.
- Selecting manually with the Marquee, Lasso, and Pen tools
- Saving time with automatic selection methods like the Quick Selection tool and the Magic Wand tool
- Fine-tuning selections with Refine Edge
- Working with selections in Quick Mask mode
- Moving, modifying, and combining selections
- Saving selections as alpha channels
- Making complex selections from color channels
- Using the Background Eraser tool to replace a background
- Installing and using the legacy Extract plug-in to isolate an object from its background