Selections! (Part 4)
Don't worry there is not a great deal more you need
to know about selections. Most of these extras you will probably
have guessed how to use by now so hopefully I will not need to go
into too much detail for you to understand them.
Whenever you make a selection, Photoshop will also
allow you to make some modifications to that selection via the selection
drop down menu. Let's see a common example of this. I have selected
Mr. Duck once again. I used the magic wand tool to select around
the edge of the duck this time. We have already learnt how to easily
do this. Just select the white background behind him and then go
to Select > Inverse.
Anyway selecting the outside of the duck is not the
trick. The trick is, once you have selected the duck, you can go
to Select > Modify > and choose
one of four options below, namely: Border,
Smooth, Expand or Contract.
In this case I decided to modify my duck selection by using the
contract option on a setting of 5 pixels. Notice what has happened
in the picture below? Yep, the selection has contracted by five
pixels and is now smaller than the duck but still the same shape!
The Expand option does exactly the opposite to the
contract option and you will find that the selection will enlarge
bigger than the original image. Usually you will find that expanding
or contracting only one or two pixel will be most useful for editing
pictures and getting rid of white edges etc., which often prove
an annoying problem.
The smooth option simplifies a selection. For example,
the left picture below is a quick n jagged lasso selection I made.
After going to Select > Modify > Smooth
and again selecting 5 pixels as the
amount, you will get the more rounded selection on the right.
Rounding selections is useful for smoothing out the
kinks in complex selections or creating interesting effects like
The Border selection option turns your single selection
into a double selection. It can be useful for creating quick boarders
around images which I suppose is why its called border :o).
Okay, this is the last bit on modifying selections
I promise. Transforming a selection basically means you can rotate,
enlarge, distort or shrink your selection. Don't confuse this with
rotating your picture, we are not rotating the picture,
we are rotating the selection we have already chosen. Do do this
we select our duck again:
Then go to Select > Transform
The picture will suddenly get this weird box around
it which allows us to rotate, resize and so on. It works in exactly
the same way as the image transform tool which I will explain how
to use in a bit more detail in another short article, although its
pretty self evident anyway.
To summarize how to use it: to rotate the selection,
move your mouse to the corner of the box until the mouse pointer
turns into a curved double-headded arrow. Then hold down the mouse
pointer and rotate. To resize, move the mouse to the corner until
it turns into a straight double-headded arrow, then drag the image
to the size you need.
If you want to keep the aspect ratio, which makes
sure the image is not distorted when it is resized, then you should
hold down the shift key while you are resizing. If you wish to distort
and shear the image too just choose any one of the square boxes
and hold down the ctrl key on your keyboard. For more details on
using transform you'll need to see my transform guide.
There is one final, final, final thing to learn now
and then you will become the ultimate selections guru. I have saved
it until last because it works a little differently from the other
selection stuff although the idea is exactly the same. This option
is Color Range and it allows us to select a range of colours from
a picture as a selection. To use this option we do not need to select
anything first, we go to Select > Color
Up will pop the following dialogue box.
Cool huh! You will probably be presented with a black
picture. Don't worry this is needed to see better what you are selecting.
Notice also that your mouse pointer has turned into a ink dropper
icon. To select a colour is really simple just click on the colour
you'd like to select on your colour picture. In this case I have
clicked on the ducks head to select all yellow.
If you look up you will also notice a fuzziness slider
bar. This works exactly like the tolerance option on the magic wand
tool. The higher the fuzziness the less picky it is about what shade
of yellow it selects and vice versa.
Okay, click on the yellow of the duck; move the fuzziness
halfway up and press the OK button. You should then see something
As you can see it selects the yellow in much the same
way the magic wand tool does. The only real difference between the
two is the colour range chooses all colours on the screen while
the magic wand only chooses colours in a small area. Selecting all
colours can be very useful. For example, it could allow us to easily
change the colour of the ducks beak from red to blue. It could also
allow us to change all colour of lots of repetitive stuff like text
that would normally take ages to change with the magic wand tool.
|TIP: You can select all the colours in a small area
of your picture too if needed. Just select the area with a normal
selection tool such as the rectangular marquee tool. Then after
it is selected choose Select > Color
Range.. and it will only choose the colours inside your
Going back to our Color Range dialogue box there are
a couple of other options you may want to know. First is the 'Invert'
check box. When this is checked it will select all of the picture
except the colour you select; its a bit like choosing Select
> Inverse but its easier and faster to use this way.
Notice also the three ink droppers (eye droppers)
on the right of the dialogue box. A normal one, one with a plus
sign (+) and one with a minus sign (-). It may be that you wish
to choose more than one shade of yellow or even a couple of colours
to select at once. In this case choose the eye dropper with the
plus sign by it (+). If you need to take out a certain colour you
can use the minus eye dropper - you get the idea.
Finally, the load and save options speak for themselves,
you load and save your colour selections with them.
Phew! Rest assured that all you need to know to become
an expert with selections has now been explained to you in these
guides. I do my best to make my guides very comprehensive so the
reader doesn't think perhaps there is still hard stuff to learn,
there isn't, it's all as easy as it looks!