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Adobe Photoshop CS3

Selecting an Area

Photoshop has multiple selection tools to accommodate the different types of selections. All of these tools are found in the Toolbox.

This document contains information on:

return to topSelecting with the Marquee Tools

Marquee tools make rectangular, elliptical, and single row or single column selections. The Marquee tools are found in the uppermost left corner of the Toolbox.  

To recognize this tool, look for one of these buttons: Rectangular Marquee ToolElliptical Marquee ToolSingle Row Marquee ToolSingle Column Marquee Tool

  1. From the Toolbox, select and hold the Marquee Tool
    The hidden Marquee tools appear.
    marquee tools

  2. Select one of the tools
    HINT: You can switch between the Rectangular Marquee Tool and the Elliptical Marquee Tool by pressing [Shift] + [M].

  3. To select an area, click and drag the the crosshair pointer to surround your desired selection
    HINTS:
    To obtain a perfect square or circle, press and hold [Shift] before clicking and dragging the mouse.

  4. To finish the selection, release the mouse button
    NOTE: The selected area is now surrounded by animated dashes.
    HINT: If your selection is not quite right, press [Ctrl] + [D] and repeat steps 2-4.

  5. Complete the desired action (e.g., copy, add color)
    NOTE: The area remains selected.

  6. To prevent inadvertent changes to the selected area, when complete, deselect the area

return to topSelecting with the Lasso Tools

Lasso tools make free hand selections of irregularly shaped areas, with or without straight edges. When working with these tools, the pointer takes the shape of the tool. To make the selection process more precise, you can convert it to a crosshair pointer by pressing [Caps Lock].

HINT: You can switch between the Lasso tools by pressing [Shift] + [L].

Making Free Hand Selections

Selecting with the Lasso Tool is similar to drawing a line around an area with a pen.

NOTE: The method used is click and drag. When you release the mouse button, the selection is completed.

  1. From the Toolbox, select Lasso ToolLasso Tool

  2. Click and drag around the contours/border of the area you want to select

  3. Release the mouse button
    The point at which you release will be connected with the beginning point to enclose the area.
    NOTE: The selected area is now surrounded by animated dashes.
    HINT: If your selection is not quite right, press [Ctrl] + [D] and repeat steps 2-3.

  4. Complete the desired action (e.g., copy, add color)
    The area remains selected.

  5. To prevent inadvertent changes to the selected area, when complete, deselect the area

Making Straight-Edged Selections

The Polygonal Lasso Tool allows you to select oddly shaped areas of an image. You can use this tool if you want to select a triangular or other polygonal area of an image. 

  1. From the Toolbox, select the Polygonal Lasso Tool polygonal lasso tool
    NOTE:
    The Polygonal Lasso Tool is a hidden lasso tool. Click and hold the Lasso ToolLasso Toolbutton on the Toolbox to select the Lasso tool of your choice, e.g., the Polygonal Lasso Tool.

  2. Position the polygonal lasso pointer where you want to start selecting and click the mouse

  3. Move to the next corner of the area you want to select and click
    HINT: To ensure a straight line selection, press [Shift] before clicking.
    A line and an anchor point appear.

  4. Repeat step 3 until the desired area is selected 

  5. To finish the selection, double click on the last point
    OR
    Move the pointer to the starting point of the selection and click
    NOTE: The last point you double clicked will connect to the first point you created.
    HINT: If your selection is not quite right, press [Ctrl] + [D] and repeat steps 2-5.
    The selected area is now surrounded by animated dashes.

  6. Complete the desired action (e.g., copy, add color)
    The area remains selected.

  7. To prevent inadvertent changes to the selected area, when complete, deselect the area

Making Irregularly-Shaped Selections

The Magnetic Lasso Tool allows you to select particular objects out of your image without having to free hand it. The Magnetic Lasso works by detecting differences in color pixels between the area that is being selected and what surrounds it. Therefore, it works best when the color difference is significant. The Magnetic Lasso Tool works less well if the object being selected is similar in color to its background.

  1. From the Toolbox, select the Magnetic Lasso Toolmagnetic lasso tool
    NOTE: The Magnetic Lasso Tool is a hidden lasso tool. Click and hold the Lasso ToolLasso Toolbutton on the Toolbox to select the Lasso tool of your choice, e.g., the Magnetic Lasso Tool.

  2. Position the lasso pointer where you want to start selecting and click to set the first Fastening Point
    HINT: If the pointer is not in the form of a magnetic lasso, press [Caps Lock]
    NOTE: Fastening Points anchor your selection border in place.
    Magnetic Marquee Tool in action: Fastening Points annotated

  3. Move the mouse along the edge of the area you want to select
    It automatically draws a moveable line that "clings" to areas of similar color between Fastening Points.

  4. To add a straight-edge selection,
    1. Release the mouse button
    2. Press [Alt] + click at the starting point of the straight-edge selection
      This sets the Fastening Point for the start.
    3. Release [Alt] and the mouse button
    4. Move the mouse to the endpoint of the straight-edge
    5. Click the mouse button
      This sets the Fastening Point at the end of the straight-edge selection. Your cursor returns to the Magnetic Lasso and you can resume free hand selection.

  5. If the border does not automatically snap to the desired edge, click the mouse button once to add a Fastening Point manually

  6. To erase recently drawn segments and Fastening Points, press [Delete]

  7. To finish the selection, double click on the last point
    OR
    Move the pointer to the starting point of the selection and click
    NOTE: The last point you double clicked will connect to the first point you created.
    HINT: If your selection is not quite right, press [Ctrl] + [D] and repeat steps 2-6.

  8. Complete the desired action (e.g., copy or add color)

  9. To prevent inadvertent changes to the selected area, when complete, deselect the area

return to topSelecting with the Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand Tool selects areas of similar color. To increase or decrease the range of color selected, you can adjust the Tolerance, or color range, of the Magic Wand Tool.

To select an area:

  1. From the Toolbox, select the Magic Wand Tool magic wand selection tool
    HINT: If the Magic Wand Tool is not visible, you may need to click and hold on the Quick Selection Tool to find it.

  2. From the Objects toolbar, in the Tolerance text box, specify a value
    NOTE: Low levels of Tolerance result in a smaller selection area. High levels of Tolerance result in a larger selection area.
    Magic Wand Options Bar

  3. To select only like-colored pixels that are next to each other, select Contiguous
    OR
    To select all like-colored pixels in the image, de-select Contiguous

  4. In your image, click a spot within the area that you want to select
    Similar colors around the area where you clicked are selected.

  5. OPTIONAL: Enlarge or reduce the selected area:
    NOTE: These selections are also based on similar colors and may result in unintentional additions or subtractions. 
        a. To add to the selected area, press [Shift] while clicking areas not included in the original selection
        b. To subtract from the selected area, press [Alt] while clicking areas you want to exclude

  6. Complete the desired action (e.g., copy, add color)
    The area remains selected.

  7. To prevent inadvertent changes to the selected area, when complete, deselect the area

return to topSaving a Selection

Focusing on a particular area of an image is done using the selection tools; however, many times you need to work with different areas at different times. Photoshop allows you to save selection areas to make re-selecting these areas more efficient.

  1. Select the desired area

  2. From the Select menu, select Save Selection...
    The Save Selection dialog box appears.
    Save Selection dialog box

  3. In the Name text box, type a name for the selection
    NOTE: A Channel is how Photoshop saves the selection information. You can view your saved channels by clicking on the Channels tab next to the Layers tab in the Layers palette.

  4. Click OK

return to topLoading a Selection

In order to work with a saved selection, it needs to be loaded.

  1. From the Select menu, select Load Selection...
    The Load Selection dialog box appears.

  2. From the Channel pull-down list, choose the desired selection

  3. Click OK
    The selection is loaded.

return to topDeselecting an Area

To prevent inadvertent changes to a selected area, you should deselect it.

WARNING: If you have not saved the selection, you will need to re-select the area in order to work with it again. For information on saving selections, see Saving a Selection.

  1. From the Select menu, select Deselect
    OR
    Press [Ctrl] + [D]

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