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Introduction to Selections

  • The Most Important Technique to master in Photoshop!
  • Selections allow you to isolate an area for making changes, while protecting the rest of your image.
  • The Mantra of selections: "If You Can't Select it, You Can't Correct it!"
  • The tools most often used for making selections are:
  • The Lasso tool - makes freehand or straight edged selections
  • The Magic Wand - selects area of similar color
  • The Quick Selection tool - selects areas by looking for edges.
  • Quick Mask - allows you to view a selection as a transparent overlay, and also to create selections by painting them.
  • The Pen Tool - the most powerful selection tool - creates a path which can be converted into a selection.

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
  • Introduction to Selections 1:28
    • Apps and Plug-ins for Photo Correction
    • Introduction to Selections
    • The Principal Selection Tools: Marquee
    • The Principal Selection Tools: Lasso
    • The Principal Selection Tools: Quick Selection and Magic Wand
    • The Principal Selection Tools: The Pen Tool
    • The Principal Selection Tools: Quick Masks & Layer Masks
    • Panels: Refine Edge
    • Panels: Mask Panel
    • Panels: Channels
    • Panels: Paths
    • Functions: Feather
    • Functions: Calculation
  • Selections Demonstration 1: Scenery 15:08
  • Selections Demonstration 2: Car 20:04
  • Selections Demonstration 3: People 22:51
  • Lesson Summary 24:06

Transcription: Introduction to Selections

Hi everybody, Mike Brown back with you, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

So far in this course we've gone over the workspace, we've looked at Preferences, we've gone over Bridge, the editing and sorting program--we've gone into Camera Raw which allows you to take your images and do preliminary corrections on the overall image and then bring it in Photoshop for further work.0008

We've talked about the exposure and color corrections that you can perform on your images and how you use those tools and functions, and now it's time to deal with the most important technique in Photoshop.0029

If you remember my four basic categories, the first and most important category is selections, and my mantra which you'll see in a moment; if you can't select it, you can't correct it--if you can't isolate an area precisely and properly, you can't make a correction that's flawless.0043

We're going to go over the primary selection tools, and briefly how they relate to each other, the panels and functions, all that relate to the selecting, and then in this lesson I'm going to close up by showing you a few samples of where we utilize selections and how they actually make the images far better than if you didn't have selection.0062

Alright, let's get started.0088

Let's talk for a moment about apps and plugins for photo correction.0091

I receive emails all of the time and I just got an email from a colleague the other day telling me about a new app and plugin--an app for the iPhone and all the other smartphones and also the same piece of software at a little more robust level that's available for a plugin to Photoshop, which I found.0097

There's all sorts of plugins for Photoshop that can do various and sundry things--a company called Nik (N I K) made some fabulous plugins that are far better and expansive in the black and white conversion, and also in HDR which is high dynamic range photography.0119

These are things that Photoshop has functionality but not as expansive.0138

Now, this plugin that I got the email for--$200 for a plugin to go into Photoshop that does nothing more than the same thing you can do right in Photoshop--I went over it, took a look at it and I'm absolutely amazed.0144

If you're interested in just quick fixing snapshots, taking your iPhone, taking a picture, doing some quick editing and not retouching but corrected and then popping it up on Facebook, Photoshop is not the right software for you at all, just get one of these cool apps and some of them are free, some of them cost a buck or two, they'll fix those little Photoshops up and they'll look interesting and they'll look better than they did to start with up there on Facebook and on the internet, but if you're serious, you need Photoshop.0161

In today's world of digital photography, a decent camera is inexpensive, and even the cell phone cameras are now decent quality and resolution so almost every image you take today is going to be a reasonable high quality photo.0196

Technically, it's up to you to provide the artistry to make that a good photo to take further, and there are just all these apps and plugins that you can correct all sorts of stuff; exposure, color, sharpening, all sorts of effects, old time effects, whacked out filter effects--all sorts of stuff--some of them offer basic options to retouch, crop, sharpen, color correct and so on.0213

In the end, most all of these programs can improve the look of your images, but if you're doing serious photography, Photoshop is the only solution--it's far more expensive, far more precise, and if you know how to use it right, which I'm going to teach you all of this, just as easy to use.0238

If you're working with any of these high resolution files and your end product is a high quality print, or maybe if you're a professional going to a client for an ad, poster, catalogue or even a billboard, high quality photography, precise retouching and enhancement is absolutely essential.0258

You cannot get that with any other of these plugin programs or other programs that I know of besides Photoshop.0276

Anything that these other programs that claim they can do all this magic easily, anything they can do, can be done in Photoshop equally as well, equally as fast as long as you know how to do it, and in most cases, far better than any of the apps, so Photoshop is the way.0285

What really sets Photoshop apart from all of the rest is the variety of precision, high quality tools and functions and techniques, and most notably, the array and quality of the selection tools and methods--selections are the key!0306

OK, selections are the most important technique in Photoshop--I've talked to you about this before.0326

What is a selection?0333

A selection allows you to precisely isolate an area of your image that cannot be dealt with if you are only making your corrections and adjustment to the overall image.0334

Selections immediately provide the means to take your images to a quality and creative level far beyond just making these overall adjustments--I know I'm beating it to death with a stick, but I want you to realize it's a huge difference between just correcting your overall image, and then correcting the areas that need it more with selection.0348

This feature alone of selecting sets Photoshop apart from any other plugins and apps that claim to be able to work wonders on your image.0372

Even if some of them can do a decent job, none of them, none of them offer the ability to make quality precision selections, and my mantra; if you can't select it, you can't correct it.0380

If a selection is not perfect, the effects or corrections that you apply to that area will not blend flawlessly into the image, and will immediately scream Photoshopped and immediately the value of your image and the impact on people goes to zero.0396

In this series of lessons, I'll be showing you the entire array of tools and techniques for selecting and how to use them to create perfect corrections in any situation.0415

You will learn to do this easily and efficiently--that's the big key here; easily, efficiently, with quality.0426

Once you become comfortable with understanding which selection you need, and that requires looking at your image and deciding what you need to do, and which one is the best to apply to that, and how to quickly make it an adjusted, the quality level of your imagery will go up dramatically and the creative possibilities will become endless, so let's get started on selections.0434

Here are the principle selection tools, panels and functions that summarize all of what you will need to make quality, perfect, flawless selections.0461

The tools; we have the Marquee tool which is right here in the Toolbox, very simply it makes rectangular or oval's not used that frequently, but there are uses for it, we'll go into that.0476

The primary tool that I find that I use a lot, is the Lasso tool, which is your freehand tool--it's either freehand, in other words you just make a freehand selection, or you make straight edged selections if you have specific lines on objects you can make them accurately that way, the third one is the Magnetic tool which I don't use and we'll talk about that.0495

Below that we have the quick selection and the Magic Wand tool.0523

They're similar yet decidedly different--the quick selection tool looks for edges...the Magic Wand tool selects areas of color.0528

You'll use them usually in both in similar circumstances and they kind of tie together, we'll go over that as well.0541

The Pen tool, which is right down here, is the most powerful of all the selection tools--it creates precise vector pads that you can convert into selection.0549

This tool can select anything, absolutely anything that none of the other tools can do, this one can handle it--that is an important tool.0562

Quick Mask is a very unique feature that allows you to view your selections and modify your selections by painting them, you can also create them from scratch using Quick Mask--a very valuable tool.0573

A Layer Mask is a black and white representation of a selection that is attached to a layer and blocks out the selected area from the--isolates the selected area from the remainder.0587

It can also be modified in a similar manner to Quick Mask, so as far as the tools go, let's create a blank layer up here at the top, and I want to show you that...0605

The Marquee tool and Lasso tool kind of go together if you will, because both of them are very easy to create rectangles, ellipses or in this case freehand or straight edges, and predominantly their options are feather.0624

you notice up here in the Option bar for the Marquee tool it has feather, for the Lasso tool it also has feather--feather is available and a primary thing that we're going to learn about, but these two kind of go together.0647

The quick selection as I pointed out goes with edges and the Magic Wand with color, and these two also are kind of similar--they would be used under similar circumstances, so basically we've knocked this down to two out of 4, the Pen tool stands alone.0661

The Quick Mask, which allows painting and modification and vision, and the Layer Mask to the same thing, but the Quick Mask does it directly on your image and the Layer Mask is attached to a layer.0683

So they're quite similar and also become grouped together, so in the end you have the Pen tool which is the most powerful, Marquee and Lasso which you'll use even more, and I would say equally, the quick selection/Magic Wand, and Quick Masks and Layer Masks, so what you have really is four out of these seven.0698

In terms of the panels, refine edge--notice this button over here for the Marquee, for the Lasso tool, also for the quick selection tool, for any of those tools except the Pen tool, but once you turn it into a selection, then the refine edge becomes usable.0725

And the same with the Layer Mask has a mask panel which is almost identical.0747

Let me show you very quickly...the refine edge dialog box, it's right here, it allows you to adjust things such as feather contrast, shifting the edge in and out, so on and so forth.0754

The masks panel looks almost identical to that, and when we go back to what we were talking about, masks panel and refine edge are connected--once you know one you know the other.0771

Channels are very simple; they are selections that have been saved as a black and white representation which is a mask, but in this case it's a stationary mask, so this even ties in with the masks panel, so they're all consolidated similarly.0785

Pas are created by the Pen tool and the vector shapes that can be modified, saved and made into selections.0805

Once you make them into a selection it falls to here, very simple.0813

Then we have two other functions that we use; feather, extremely important and next lesson we're going to spend looking at feather.0817

Feather is the thickness and softness of a selection edge, and this is absolutely vital, whether you have a building, let's say, which has a clean, sharp edge that you need to make an isolation and go instantly from one spot to another.0827

Or a very soft transition of maybe in the water in the ocean just gently blending something and it needs to be soft and wide, this is where feather comes in--extremely important, and calculations are a time saver that work in conjunction with channels.0847

They combine channels which you take a selection, create a channel, then you can make new selections by combining various channels, it's a time saver, so that kind of sums up what we're going to learn and if you notice, we really only have 4, 5, 6, 7 items out of this entire list and they're all inter-twined--very easy.0869

OK, so that just kind of gives you an overview, don't get crazy, we got this stuff, it's easy, so now let me show you three example of where selections actually apply, and I'm going to start with...0893

This one right here--this is the prime example to show you where selections really come into play.0914

Now, very quickly, down see channels, there is a channel, but up here (we'll close the channels panel right now) these little black rectangles attached to these various layers.0921

These are all layers inside an image--you're going to be using those too--that's another feature that these other programs do not offer--layers give you the ability to do things that you cannot do any other way than using layers, such as composites, I'll show you in just a minute.0940

Now what we have here...this is the original raw file of this image that I took, untouched, just the original raw file.0958

This is the raw file that has been worked in Camera Raw--let's go back to that...there's the raw file, now it's worked in Camera Raw and I want you to note the difference.0970

Look at the sky, you have a washed out sky, we have over-exposed rocks, the color's a little washed out, the water here is just kind of muddy looking and doesn't really pop.0984

When we go and do an overall with all of the available tools to do overall corrections which, by the way, is no different--this Camera Raw is exactly light room and it's equal to any of the apps that you get out there--this is what you get.0997

Now, it's decidedly better--unquestioned you go "that's great, the sky looks good, everything else looks good here, what are you talking about?"1015

Now you notice, and I'm going to show you that that's a selection--the white area is the selected area, the blacked area is protected to allow me to put an effect on, for example, that selection--if you notice all the white area--when I go back, it's the water, and this one here is all of the greenery.1024

Go back to see that--so I have separate control for the water and the greenery, and I want to show you I also have one right here for the rocks in the foreground as well as the blown out highlighted area in the water--the whites there, these rocks and the foreground--notice that?1050

They're also selected--here's one for the sky, and here's one for the darker green areas over in this area.1071

By utilizing that whole series of--and here's one even further, just the water edge rocks, I was able to isolate those.1081

Now you notice this is all kind of flat, same lighting, it was very high sunlight--now watch the difference when I have applied 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (which one was this, that's just a tiny little area) 7, I have 7 different layers including just some overall corrections.1090

I went from, there's the original, there's Camera Raw, and there's the final one--I want to compare that to Camera Raw--look at that, we went from there, to there.1114

Now where did the selections come in play?1127

Look at the water...I was able to isolate the water and get it to look nice and blue, so instead of looking muddy and not really prominent, by the use of selections, wham, we got the water.1129

Look at the rocks here which are flatly lit, I was able to with selections darken them further, get the true richness of the Earth and pop those rocks out--this is with an overall, that's with a selection.1146

Look at the greenery, especially up here where it's a little bit dull, and in the tree area...1160

Look at the snap that you get, the difference in contrast and the pop.1169

Look up here in the upper left where the hillside doesn't have much snap and over here it's kind of dull, by using selections, snap that and finally, even though you are able to bring the sky up from this original to this with the Camera Raw, look at the difference when we changed it by the use of selections.1173

All of that after we did overall corrections--right there should tell you the story of corrections.1197

Now I'm going to show you a couple more real's a car shot, this happens to be my car actually, and that location happens to be up in Northern California, up in the mountains in winter time.1204

It's pretty flawless if you can see, that you can see the background right through the windows like you normally would, the sheet metal looks perfect, everything is flawless--this car was really sitting there--well, not true.1219

Let me show you first off, look at all of the masks that I made by the way.1235

There is mask for the pavement, here's one for the side windows, here's one for part of the rough, here's one here for just the logo--isolating the logo area, here's a whole series for the rear windows through the car, here's another one for the side of the--just that bright area on the side of the car.1240

We go down further, there's one just for the pillar over here and so on and so on and so on, and there's one back in the background--a very soft one for the mountain, one for the other side of the mountain, we have another one over here.1269

All of these little isolations to enable me to do this--oh and by the way, the bottom line is, this wasn't a single image--you cannot use any apps to do this because there's the original photograph of my car taken in a parking lot right down the street in harsh sunlight and so on.1285

If you just look at the car itself, there's all the difference in the retouch work right got cleaned up, everything else got taken care of, and now the car in conjunction (let me turn the cars off) here was the stripped in car.1308

We could've used a different background, I experimented with that, that's something, but here was the original background that I stripped in, so this is actually three different pieces.1327

A different piece of pavement, the car and the background, and the use of selections all the way along to select the car to give you--by the way, let's zoom it up so I can show you...look at the perfect edge around the car.1341

All of that very complicated selection enabled me to cut the car out and drop it in without any evidence that it was done at all--all with selections--and then for those of you who work on people, here's an original shot taken by a friend of mine--I think we've talked about this one before.1359

This is the original photograph, and there's the retouched image right there.1380

Notice the eyes, notice under the eyes, notice around the blemishes, notice under the lip, notice the lips themselves, and the quality level of the skin, all changed, and even (turn that back on) see the hair over here where there's a lot of opening, the hair was fixed, and all these various selections that were used.1388

There's a lip selection, there's one for an eye, there's the was the reverse from the face, there's one for the neck area and so on and so on and so on up and down to (get back to there).1414

All of that just to take this image from here, to here, could not do that with an app or another plugin.1436

So, now that you see what they can do, and you see roughly how they are applied, it should give you a good idea of the difference now between just correcting an overall image, and using selections as masks and pure selection isolated areas to fix up images to look like that, or that, or...1446

Where's the other one we had...or this one right here.1473

See you at the next lesson.1481