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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
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Post by David Löfqvist on March 1 at 08:50:16 AM

Hi! The subtitles in this video is sometimes really hard to read because there are so many lines. One or two lines at the time on the screen is enough. I loved this introduction! I never realised how important masks are before!

Introduction to Selections

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:07
  • Creating Selections 1:04
    • Creating Selections Overview
  • Principal Selection Tools & Options 4:40
    • Marquee Tools & Feather
    • Lasso Tools
    • Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and Selection Brush
    • Layer Masks
  • Basic Selection Shortcuts 9:02
    • Tools Shortcut
    • Add & Subtract Selection
    • Hide Selection
    • Deselect & Select All
  • Selection Demonstration 1: Landscape 11:33
  • Selection Demonstration 2: Commercial Composite 18:49
  • Selection Demonstration 3: Portrait 21:46

Transcription: Introduction to Selections

Hi, everybody--Mike Brown back with you again, with another lesson in Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 from!0000

Well, in the last two lessons, we dealt with exposure and color--making exposure and color corrections overall, to an entire image.0007

It worked pretty well; however, we could still have done much better than that by isolating specific areas for correction.0016

In this and the following two lessons, we're going to deal with the most important technique in Photoshop Elements.0026

If you remember my four categories--selections, corrections, retouch, and manipulation--you have now learned the corrections, which are exposure and color, but selections are the most important technique in Photoshop Elements.0032

We're going to talk about what they are, the importance of selections, the primary selection tools, panels, and options in overview, and selection shortcuts, and I'm going to show you a few samples that will show you precisely the value of using selections.0047

So, let's get started!0062

Creating selections is the most important technique in Photoshop Elements.0066

What is a selection? A selection allows you to precisely isolate an area of your image for making specific and precise modifications or corrections.0072

When I mean precise, it doesn't mean necessarily a very sharp edge; sometimes you need a broad, soft selection to blend slowly into something; sometimes you need a very sharp-edged selection to cut out a specific element.0084

Accurate selections immediately provide you the means to take your images to a quality and creative level far beyond just making the overall adjustments.0100

This feature alone sets Elements apart from any of the many plug-ins and apps that claim to be able to work wonders to your images.0111

In today's world, we have smartphones; we have tablets; we have laptops; we can even have iWatches coming out pretty soon; all of these have photographic capabilities, and they all have little apps that you can buy to take your photographs and retouch them and fix them up, and then put them up on the Web or print them.0121

But, they really only do generalizations; they are not super precise, because you are dealing with--first of all, the tablets are pretty small, and you're dealing with your fingers, not working with graphic tablets to make precision stuff; they're not really what...but they do a decent job; but if you're working seriously in photography, and you want your stuff to look absolutely flawless, even better than you can do with any of these apps, that is what Photoshop Elements is all about.0142

That involves selections--the most important technique--my mantra is very simple.0171

Even if some of those apps, by the way, can do a decent job of improving, none of them are able to make the quality precision selections you can here in Elements.0178

If you can't select it, you can't correct it: it's that simple.0187

If a selection is not perfect, and blends perfectly, the effects or corrections that you apply to the selected area will not blend flawlessly into the image, and will immediately scream, "Photoshop!"0192

You have all seen it; you have seen pictures where somebody has stripped a person into an image, and the edges are not perfect; you can see the little outline around it; you know perfectly well that it was fake.0206

You have seen all sorts of stuff--hands; everything you look at; "Oh, yes, that's Photoshop"; that is why "Photoshopped" is a term in the dictionary--because of mistakes, not because of how great it is.0217

In this series of lessons, I'm going to be showing you the entire array of tools and techniques of selecting, and how to use them to create perfect selections for any situation.0230

You're going to learn to do this easily and efficiently, and that is the key; if you get bogged down, spending a lot of time trying to make an accurate selection, you're going to give up and just move on.0241

But, if I make it easy, quick, and flawless, you're going to use it, and what is going to happen then is, once you understand what type of selection you need for a situation, and how to quickly and accurately create it, the quality level of your images will go up dramatically, and the creative possibilities become endless; because now, you know what you can do to your image, and how well you can do it, it allows you to visualize photographically entirely differently.0251

So, let's get started looking at selections!0280

Let's go over the principal selection tools, and their options, very quickly; in the next lesson, we'll attack them specifically.0284

All of these selection tools are gathered under the Select category in the Toolbar.0292

We have the Marquee tools up here in the upper right, and if you'll hover, you will see the shortcut: the letter M, for Marquee tools.0297

We have an elliptical or a rectangular; the elliptical draws ellipses or circles; the rectangular does rectangles.0308

You have an option for feather, which is the thickness and softness of a selection edge; and feather is so vitally important--we will probably have a lesson on it specifically, because that is the blend area where things blend in and make it perfect.0316

There are your Marquee tools; under the Lasso tools, which are right below the Move tool: we have three of them.0332

We have the Freehand lasso, which does freehand selections; we have the Polygonal lasso tool, which allows you to make precise straightedge selections; and the third one is the Magnetic lasso, which I am not a believer in, because it tries to find edges, and ostensibly it does a wonderful job--but if the edge isn't absolutely perfect, it searches around, and it's going to drop points all over the place, and you're going to spend more time correcting it than you will making it.0340

The other two tools will do a better job 99% of the time.0370

And, with the Lasso tools, we have the Refine Edge dialogue box, which, by the way, appears with all selection tools.0376

That takes care of the Lasso tools.0386

Now, the Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and Selection Brush--all three of these are under the lower-right-hand one.0390

Here is the Quick Selection tool, the Selection Brush, and the Magic Wand.0398

If you are working in Adobe Photoshop Elements 10, the shortcut for the Magic Wand is W, and it sits separately as a singular tool.0403

The Quick Selection and Selection Brush are grouped, and their shortcut is the letter A.0414

Now, the wand also is grouped in here, and it has the shortcut of A, not W.0424

Now, the Quick Selection tool looks for edges of contrast and color--that is how it does its selection; so it defines edges.0431

The Magic Wand tool: what it does--it works on areas of similar color--for example, the sky--and you can adjust the range of color by adjusting what is called the tolerance slider.0441

The larger the tolerance, the wider the range of color; so, you can tighten it or broaden it to suit your needs.0454

The third one is the one that you're going to use an awful lot; this is the Selection Brush.0462

It allows you to just simply paint selections and masks (masks are the blocked-out area; selections are the active area).0466

You can actually painting, and see what you are painting, of a mask, and then, once you have made the mask, just simply reverse it, and it's now a selected area--very cool tool.0477

There you have all of them; and the fifth and final one would be layer masks, which we will be dealing with when we attack layers.0488

A layer mask is a saved selection that is attached to a layer, so that it affects whatever the function is, only of that layer; very cool, but it's basically just a selection.0500

So, Marquee, Lasso, Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and Selection Brush are your selection tools, and we have feather, the tolerance for the Magic Wand, and the Refine Edge box, which allows all sorts of modifications--softening the edges, making it expand and contract--all sorts of cool stuff--and it allows you (this is new for Photoshop CS6) to select hair and fine details accurately--it's absolute magic.0513

All right, let's take a look at our selection shortcuts very quickly.0542

I'll be putting these in the Quick Notes for this lesson.0546

The tools: Marquee tools--the shortcut for Marquee tools (which starts with the letter M) is the letter M; all you do is hit the letter M, and you notice that the Marquee tool highlighted and popped up.0550

The shortcut for the Lasso tools is the letter L; if I hit L, notice it highlighted and popped up the options for the Lasso tools.0564

Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and the Selection Brush are all the letter A, and there you see: when I hit A, up came those options.0574

The operations (we'll deal more with this in detail) that make making selections so easy: if you are making a selection, and you need to add a piece, you very simply hold down your shift key and keep going with the tool.0583

If you make a mistake and go too far, and need to subtract something, you hold your Option key on a Mac/Alt on a PC, and fix it; so, you can just do this on the fly.0599

To hide the crawling ants--and let me identify what crawling ants are--I made a selection here, and you see the little dashed line that keeps moving around here?--the colloquial term for this is "crawling ants."0609

What that is defining is just the edge of your selection--not the thickness of the edge; just the broad border of a selected area.0625

So, you can tell where the selection is.0635

To hide these crawling ants (because, if you're making an adjustment, you really don't want to see that edge--you want to see that blend), you do Command on a Mac/Control on a PC, and the letter H (which I'm going to do--Command+H).0640

Now, you saw that it went away; it did not deselect the selection; it's still there; it just hid the crawling ants; Command+H brings them back.0653

If I want to deselect a selection, what letter do you think we might use in combination with Command on a Mac/Control on a PC?--D for deselect, H for hide, A for all.0662

Command/Control+D deselects; Command/Control+A (notice the crawling ants are around the entire image) selects all; Command/Control+D...these are your basic shortcuts that you use while you are working with selections.0676

That sums up the generalities; let me show you the value of selections, using three different types of pictures: a landscape, a commercial composite with very fine detail, and a portrait.0691

We're going to start with a landscape; this is the landscape that you guys remember (I want to get rid of this right now) from our last lesson in exposure and color.0705

We first took this raw image, and we applied overall Brightness and Contrast--did that; overall Levels--did that--it looks a lot better; but it was still a little bit bright in the rocks and the sky and the water, so we went to Shadows and Highlights.0717

Now, the water looks pretty decent; so does the shoreline; but it flattened things out, because it brought the highlights down and the shadows up; it looks good, but it's a little flat.0734

We would like to fix some of those things.0744

Then, we took the Shadows and Highlights, and we added Levels, which popped it just a little bit, and it looks nice; but watch how easily and how quickly we can make it even better by using selections.0746

I'm going to go to the Selection Brush tool, and I'm going to put it as a mask.0760

I'm going to have a soft brush, with a hardness of 0, because we'll paint, and the first thing we're going to attack is the river.0766

We're going to just select the water area by painting, and notice--soft-edge brush--all I'm doing is painting very generally--I don't care if the edge goes over just a little bit--because it's going to blend in pretty well.0774

Make the brush a little smaller to pick up that area, and pick up that in there, and that is it.0788

Now, I'm going to go open the options, and I'm going to turn the mask--now, the mask--in a selection, masking blocks the effect; if I apply an effect right now, it's going to affect everything but the water.0794

I turn it into a selection, and the way you can tell that it's not going to be affecting the water is--see, out on the outer part of the image--the crawling ants are there, and around the water, and if I bring the mask back, you see that the water is masked; everything else is not.0809

You say, "Well, how do I fix that?"; I have the selection--I simply reverse it by doing Inverse, and now, you can see, everything else is masked--very simple.0829

You have the water ready, so I'm going to leave it as a selection, and I'm going to make an enhancement, but I'm going to do it with what is called a layer adjustment.0839

The same controls for lighting and color are right up here on the top, and apply as layers.0849

This is the power of Photoshop Elements that we will be dealing with; right now, I'm going to take our Levels and apply it.0854

I want you to look right up at the top; a layer appeared for Levels, and you notice (I'm going to just turn off the box) the thumbnail that is black and white; if I hold my Option/Alt and click it, there is the selected area, right there, that we made by painting.0863

The black area is protected, and the white area is the only place where the adjustment will occur.0883

Now, let's take that Levels, and let's work it.0890

Watch the water; I'm going to snap the contrast, and notice that it only affects that water area where I made the selection; so I'm going to snap the contrast, which darkened it, and then I'm going to take the white point and brighten it up just a little bit.0894

Snap it just a little bit more, and we'll turn it off and on; there was the water before--kind of flat and blended in with everything; and now, I popped it a little bit--it got dark.0910

But, we're not done yet: we're going to reload that same selection; there it sits; and now, I'm going to do an adjustment for hue saturation that will only affect the water.0922

We're just going to bring up the color in the water, and there we have it; so now, look at the difference: here is where we were from our overalls--it looks kind of cool: we put in exposure and hue saturation, and look at the river now--a distinctive difference from what we could do with just the generals.0934

Now, we have that; so now, let's work on the trees and pop them a little bit.0956

Make another mask by painting with the selection brush, very quickly--just the greenery is all we're going to work with on this.0960

The trees right there--we painted that--and I'm doing it generally, because we can let it blend right in with everything else.0972

I'm going to take these trees and greenery right here, and see how easy that was?--we have it; I'm going to come back, and I'm going to now open up the Options, make a selection--see, it's on the outside; we'll invert the selection; I'll show you again by making a mask.0979

Now, I'm only working on the greenery.0995

Go back to the selection; let's go up here, and we'll use our Levels again, and snap the contrast in the trees, and bring up the color.0999

Look at the dramatic difference there; I snapped it from just kind of flat to snap--we could even pop that just a little bit more, bring it on up...look at that--wow!1009

That really brought it out; so, look at the distinct difference in the greenery--it just jumps at you and has some depth to it.1021

The only other thing we're going to deal with (we can deal with the sky, and we could also deal with the mountains, but just in reference to time here)--I'm going to work on the shoreline very quickly--once more, with a mask.1027

We're going to paint the shoreline--just go in and just do the same thing with a soft-edge brush.1040

I'm going to avoid the dark rocks, because I don't want to make them any darker; we have that; go to the Options; make a selection; invert it; and I'll show you again that now, the protected area is everything except just the rocks and the shoreline.1046

Now, we're going to do the same thing again; let's get rid of that; let's go do a Levels exposure control, snap the contrast--and look at the color that came up with that!--up the white just a little bit, and now I'm going to reload that selection and do a hue saturation, and we're going to pop the saturation in the earth; and look at all the color that came out in that, right now!1063

What we did: (let's turn it all off) this is where we are right now--look at the drama in that image; I can do a little more here in the sky, but watch.1088

This is where we had worked it to, overall--it looks nice; then, we put Levels and color in the water; then we adjusted the greenery, and then we adjusted the foreground area.1095

Look at the dramatic difference: before...and after--all taking selections to make some additional modifications after we had done all of our overalls.1107

A really dramatic result, and very easy.1120

OK, let me show you a couple more examples, and then we will get on to the next lesson and actually use them.1124

Here is a commercial composite that I made for the Chevrolet dealer.1129

What I have here is a new Camaro, in speed, driving around a corner in the mountains, with the logo of the dealer in the background.1135

Well, the original photograph--this is the Chevrolet right here; I shot it in the dealer's lot, and if you can see, when I got finished with it, the wheels are now spinning; the background (which--let's see if I can bring the background out)--there was our original background there; I have actually made the background move.1144

But, I want you to notice that the car has been stripped in, or composited in, a background, and look at the difference: you can't see any evidence along the edge of the car that it was composited.1170

Look at how perfect the edge of that car is.1185

I'm going to show you the selection for the car, right now; this is the power of making a precision selection, which you can only do here in Photoshop Elements or in Photoshop.1189

Here is the selection of the car: take a look at the selection edge.1201

Let me bring this brush way down; I'm going to blow it way up.1206

Look at how precisely--just a little clean smoothness--how smoothly and perfectly that edge goes around the automobile.1209

That can be done very easily; and then, we have other areas where I needed to make selections.1221

Let's go up to the top here; here is one for the logo for the dealer that need to be stripped in.1228

If I undo that, you will see that the logo has a perfectly clean edge with at drop shadow; you can't see any evidence that it was composited--you know it was, but it's a perfect job.1237

Then, for the wheels, where we did the spinning, right here (I think this is the front wheel)--there is your front wheel, and you notice it's a little, tiny bit soft, right in this area, where there was some shadowing, but look at the precision around the edge of the tire, so that it looks perfect when it's stripped together.1248

There is the power of using extremely precise selections; and oh, by the way, we have some more; let me just show you really quickly.1271

There is the roadway; there is the shadow of the car, and look at the base of the car--how perfectly that fits around the wheels; everything is absolutely precise, so that there is no way that this is a giveaway that this particular shot was not an original photograph.1279

That is the value of selections, there.1304

Let's show you the last one: here is a portrait that was taken by a friend of mine of this young lady.1306

Here is the original photograph (let's zoom it out one time and come up slightly); she looks really nice, but you can see that the lips are imperfect; her skin needs to be smoothed out a little bit; she has these bags under the eyes--just a hair; the eyes are not white, and in the area of her chest and chin, it's a little dark from the lighting.1315

Let's show you how selections worked right here.1340

Here are the selections, as masks attached to layers; right here is a selection that was painted fairly easily, just like we did with the landscape, to isolate just the skin area down there for color and exposure.1344

And, if you will see, notice how that has been cleaned up, and it blends perfectly--you cannot see any evidence at all of any edges in there.1360

Now, with the lips (let's go find the lips; I think they are right here--no, that is below the lips; let's see--they should be here somewhere; perhaps...there we are): there are the lips; we made a pretty precise selection with a little smoothness--just a little bit, so that it's not absolutely a sharp edge, so that the exposure--notice; and I'll turn it off and on--we have no evidence; you can't see the edging at all--perfect blend.1371

Let's go up to the eyes and take a look at that.1406

Here are the eyes right here; hue saturation cleaned up the area (let's just load that so you can see it); that was to whiten up the eye--notice, it took a little pink out; there is the selection right there.1411

At any rate, what you see is that we have broad selections; we have precise selections with smoother edges, and all.1427

Oh, the one big one--let's show you the one here--was the face; and a multiple-painted selection here, so that we could isolate the skin areas and not affect the eyes, the eyebrows, the nose, or the mouth when we smoothed the skin out.1434

Let me show you the difference right up in here; you can see absolutely no evidence of edging.1456

That is the whole key with all of these selections: perfect, flawless blending.1464

There we did a landscape--very easily, a very precise commercial job, and a portrait, all utilizing selections from Photoshop Elements 11.1470

In the next lesson, I'm going to show you how to do this--so I'll see you back in the next lesson!1481