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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop Elements 11
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Basic 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
  • Basic Selection Tools 1:05
    • Marquee Tool
    • Lasso Tool
    • Polygonal Lasso Tool
    • Magnetic Lasso Tool
    • More on Lasso Tools
  • Demonstration 1: Quick Selection & Magic Wand Tool 12:58
    • Quick Selection Tool
    • Magic Wand Tool & Tolerance
    • Quick Selection Tool, cont.
  • Demonstration 2: Quick Selection & Magic Wand Tool 17:40
    • Quick Selection Tool
    • Magic Wand Tool & Tolerance
  • Adding & Subtracting with the Lasso Tool 20:23
    • Adding & Subtracting with the Lasso Tool
  • Lesson Summary 21:54

Transcription: Basic Selections

Hi, everybody--Mike Brown back with you again; welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop Elements 11 course!0000

We have been talking about selections and how you can utilize isolating areas (which is what selections are) to actually improve an image beyond what you can do with overall corrections.0007

We saw that in the intro lesson, where we took the image that we corrected on an overall basis (with exposure and color) and, by painting some selections (which is one way to make the selection), very quickly, we actually improved that image by making dynamic changes to isolated areas.0022

In this lesson, we're going to go into relative detail on how to use very basic selection tools: the Marquee tools, the Lasso tools, the Quick Selection tool, and the Magic Wand, and how to add and subtract from the selections.0043

Let's get started and show you how to work with them; in the next lesson, we'll take that even further.0060

So, let's get started!0066

We're going to deal with the Marquee tool (you remember, up here, when we click it, we have the oval and we have the rectangular).0069

Let's go ahead and open up a blank document: Command/Control+N, and I'm just going to go and make this 700x700 at 200, and we'll click OK, and we have ourselves a blank document.0078

This will enable us to take a look at this.0094

Now, when you click any of the selection tools, you notice that you'll get the Option bar; it pops up with the various options.0097

For our rectangular and oval/elliptical marquee, we have a feather option; we'll talk about feather in a later lesson, but right now, we're going to give you the generalities.0106

You notice, with both the elliptical and the rectangle, that you can set a fixed size or aspect ratio, if you want to.0119

Let's say, for example, you are doing an 8x10 photographic image, and you want to maintain that aspect ratio; you can have it as to 8x10; we click OK on that (oops, I wanted to put a 0 in there: 8x10).0129

And then, when you click and drag (which is the way you make a selection), you will notice that, no matter what I do, it has that fixed aspect ratio.0148

When I release, you see what we call the crawling ants: that is that dashed line that shows you the outer bounds of the actual selection.0158

Everything inside that area is active; everything outside is protected.0170

Let me show you that by taking--let's just take a paint brush, and I'm going to paint with black, and I'm going to paint inside this; now, I'm going to leave the crawling ants active (remember, to hide your crawling ants, Command on a Mac/Control on a PC, the letter H).0178

First, I'm going to leave them open, and as you see, as I paint, it's only working within that selection; everything outside is protected.0198

Now, if I do Command/Control+H, I have hidden the crawling ants, but as I paint, you will see that once again, the selection is still there.0207

So, if I undo that and do Command/Control+H, our selection is still there.0219

To deselect (if you remember from the last lesson): Command on a Mac/Control on a PC, deselect--the letter D: Command/Control+D; now we have no selection.0224

Let's reopen our Options, and let's remove the fixed ratio and go with specifically normal.0237

Now, when I click, it does anything I want to; you notice, what it does is creates the rectangle from where I click; it's a corner, and it makes it go from there.0249

The same thing holds true with the elliptical marquee, in the same exact fashion; if you wanted to constrain it to a specific oval, you can do that.0260

Now, I'm going to show you a couple of little tricks.0271

If we hold down the Option key with a rectangle, and click and drag, you notice what it does: that becomes the center, and it drags out from there.0275

Click and drag; I can still control the dimensions, but it all came from...rather than dragging from a corner, if I hold the Option or Alt, it drags from the center.0286

Now, if I hold down the Option/Alt and Shift, and click and drag, you notice it drags a square, centered where I started the click.0301

Click normally and drag: it drags from the corner; Option/Alt+click: it drags from the center, be it of the rectangle or, if we do it with the oval, same thing--from the center; if we hold down Option/Alt plus Shift, click and drag--in this case, it's a circle; in the case of the rectangle, it would be a square--Option/Alt+Shift, click and drag from the center.0313

Now, if we just hold the shift key down and click and drag, it drags a square, but from the corner.0344

Quick Notes will have a full list of these little shortcuts.0349

Basically, that is what you are getting: rectangles and ovals, from your Marquee tools.0353

Usually, these I use not a lot--they are used, basically, to cut out items, and I usually have a hard edge.0363

Feather, which is the thickness and softness of the edge, is available on this; we'll talk about that more.0372

That is what your Marquee tools do.0378

Now, let's go to the Lasso tools; let's back up for a moment, and let's put a blank layer on top.0380

Let's make this red, take a brush, make it small...0389

We have talked about the Marquee tools (big check mark there; I'll make a smaller one; there we go); so let's go back to that blank that we had here, and now we are on our Lasso tools.0394

We'll start with the Freehand tool.0410

Freehand Lasso tool allows you to draw freehand selections.0413

In other words, you can follow smooth objects--and you notice (once again I'll mention it), I'm using a graphic tablet; I'm going to try to draw something with my touchpad, which I doubt I can do very well.0420

Click, and you notice that it's just pretty difficult to do precise selecting.0434

It's so much easier to use a graphics tablet; this is why, if you're going to be serious about working in Photoshop Elements, I highly recommend Wacom small 4x6, either the Intuos version (which is the higher-end one) or a Bamboo.0442

You can go to and look up refurbished Wacom tablets, and you will find them at a very good price with a factory warranty.0462

OK, so that is the Freehand; the Polygonal tool does straight edges.0473

Let me show you where that would be of value.0481

Here is a building; let's say we wanted to isolate this group of windows, right here.0483

It's very easy to do it; we have them here; we're just going to go around the outer boundary of the windows; we have selected the straightedge; all I have to do is click on a corner and release, and now I'm free to go until I find another corner.0494

Click, and go all the way down to the next corner, and click, down to the bottom corner and click; and when you come back to the start, you will see a little circle.0509

It should appear; I think I deselected the thing--we're going to go again.0521

Click, click, click; and back to the start there: see the little circle next to the cursor?--that indicates that you are now on the start point.0525

If you just clicked Return or Enter from anywhere, it will close it off from there.0537

Watch what happens now: you notice it put that extra piece in there.0545

We're going to undo that, deselect, and do it one more time--with a pair of windows.0549

Click, click, click, click, and we come back to the start; there is the little circle; click, and there are our crawling ants, and we have highlighted and isolated that specific window.0556

That is how we work with the straightedge tools.0570

All right, let's go back to that blank again; so there was click, click, click, click, and you see the little circle to close it off, and there you have it.0574

OK, that is how that works; freehand with a regular lasso; straightedged with a Polygonal tool.0584

Now, I'm going to only mention this (and again, we have the feather control, which we'll talk about in the next lesson).0590

Here we have this Magnetic lasso tool.0599

I don't really like this tool a lot, because what it does (let's see what happens with this well-defined straightedge); it's supposed to--actually, you just kind of generally follow along, and it drops points.0605

Well, it does an OK job only; let's go around--let's follow this building down--and I'm just going to kind of roughly go along...and see what is happening?0620

I'm going to come back around and close it off, and you see that it really didn't do a very good job of finding those edges.0633

You almost have to do it perfectly; it's a real pain; I don't recommend using this.0643

The straightedge can select anything, by the way; if you have a straight line, you can go in straight-line distances; if you have a curved surface (let's...for fun, I want to show you the edge of this flower), we need to do a curve.0650

We can do this with the lasso tool--the freehand, by drawing it, and as long as you have a good, steady hand, you can do a pretty good job.0668

I'll show you how we deal with mistakes; there, I got a section pretty well.0681

But, watch this: with the straightedge, just drop very short segments, and effectively, you are getting a curve--just tiny little hits all the way along here like this, and you are getting a very good representation of the selection, actually extremely accurately, by doing just little, tiny areas.0685

Notice what we have there; let me go to the Selection Brush, and I want to make the mask (and we'll make it blue so you can see it), and look--actually, the edge is pretty good around that flower.0714

What you can do is utilize the Polygonal lasso tool in very short segments to simulate making a smooth curve.0731

You can be far more accurate by just clicking the little sections, OK?0746

There you have the Lasso tools: Freehand (let's go back to our untitled), Polygonal, and don't bother with the Marquee--it doesn't work that well.0751

Let's go back to our Functions, pick Brush, and we have dealt with the Lasso tools.0764

I recommend that you use the rectangular, the oval, the Freehand lasso, and the Polygonal, and ignore the Magnetic.0772

Let's take a look at the Quick Selection and Magic Wand.0780

Here we have a landscape (let's zoom it up a little bit), and I would like to select the sky.0784

We're going to go and select the Quick Selection tool; the Quick Selection tool looks for edges, and you have an adjustment for brush size.0792

The right bracket increases; you don't want to make your brush size very large when you're doing a selection, because the size makes it a little different as to where it's looking.0804

In this case, we'll drop it down as we come up, and all we have to do is work our way along the edge, and stay--the area that you're selecting is where you want the tool; you don't want to go on the edge, because it's looking for the edge.0814

It's not finding it if you're right on the edge; it doesn't know which side you want to go on.0831

If you want to select the sky, just click and drag, and notice how it looks for the edges as we go along.0835

Now, this tool has add and subtract features (we'll go into that in a minute); it's automatically on the add, so now we'll just go ahead and add more.0845

But look what is happening here: it is missing, because the edges are not really, really well-defined.0854

If we went to that building, and did the sky here, notice how easy it is?--and even there, it got over into the brown area.0863

Let's try it with a smaller brush and see if that makes any difference.0874

It's too small; make it a little larger; and we come along, and again, there it found the edge pretty well--I found a size that worked--but even there, it had a tendency, you see, to drop over just a little bit.0880

You need very well-defined edges for the Quick Selection tool.0894

But, it works with well-defined edges really well.0898

Let's go, now, and take a look at the Magic Wand, which only looks for areas of color.0902

Now, you have a tolerance slider; the wider the range of color is by a larger tolerance.0911

If I set the tolerance very low--like down around 11--and I click in the sky (which you can see is darker on the top than the bottom), you will see a band; that is the range with 13.0920

Let's say I made it a range of 4 and click again: the band is narrower.0932

Now, once again, you have these little boxes here: this is New; this is Add, Subtract, and Intersect.0938

If we want to add, we'll click that little box--and we'll click another segment, and just keep clicking, and the range will take it down; and as we get close to the edge, look at that--how well it actually found the edge of the mountains, because the color range stopped right at the edge.0945

Let's zoom it up and take a pretty good close look at that.0967

See the crawling ants--how well they follow the edge of the mountain--I could even click in here and maybe stretch it a little further; it did a great job and wasn't even offended by the white area.0971

A pretty good tool--now, the Quick Selection tool works well in other spots; let's try the Quick Selection tool down in the water.0985

What we'll do there is bring the brush size up just a little bit, and let's go around the water's edge and see what happens with this.0993

Pretty good--notice how it's following that cove really well, and we'll come right up into here and zoom it up and take a look at what we have.1003

It actually did a pretty good job--missed a little bit here--we can make the brush go down, and go to the Subtract side, and click right there, and drag, and that took care of that little problem.1015

We had a few little misses in here that we can fix, but all in all, it did a pretty good job of finding edges along that cove line.1028

Just bring it back down with the subtract, and we corrected it.1039

You're beginning to see adding and subtracting, but look at that; when it has a well-defined edge, it does a pretty decent job of finding things.1043

OK, so that shows you how the Quick Selection tool and the Magic Wand work--they work pretty well.1052

Let's go and look at one more here (I want to find this flower--there it is); now here is where you have some really well-defined edges; let's go with the Quick Selection tool, up the brush size a little bit--nice edging.1058

We're going to select the flower.1075

We could do it two ways: we could select everything but the flower, and invert, but we're going to select the flower.1076

So, we're going to stay inside and just (oops, we have a minus; we want a new selection) click and drag, staying inside the black, and notice how well that is doing.1082

It's automatically adding, as we lift and move, and I just drag down--not touching the black--and it finds our edges.1092

Come right over into here, coming on around; notice how really well this is working on a clearly-defined edge color differential; primarily, it looks for big color differentials to get the edging.1104

Now, here we want to subtract, because we got a little bit over, so we're going to hit the subtract button and drag along on the other side, in the area which we want to remove.1120

It works, and just a tiny bit right there, and a tiny bit right there...and look--that did a great job of selecting that flower.1132

As long as you have distinct color contrast edges, the Quick Selection tool works great.1141

But, the Magic Wand would work equally well here; let's try that for the fun of it.1148

We're going to go (let's up the tolerance a little bit) and just click the Magic Wand, and see what happens.1153

Let's make the tolerance even wider; and I just go ahead and click, and look at that--oops, too much tolerance on there; we'll back it off to about...let's say 50ish.1162

Click, click--we're adding and just clicking in the various areas, and you see that it is getting out there--pretty decent.1174

But, there are a lot of different color variations in here, so in this case, the Quick Selection tool did a little better job.1183

So, you play with those two, and for broad areas of color or color contrast, these two tools work.1192

All right, now I want to talk to you a little bit about adding and subtracting.1199

In Quick Selection, we talked about that one; and the Magic Wand selects similar colors.1205

Tolerance--you understand the tolerance also, here.1213

We want to talk just a little bit about adding and subtracting: we dealt with the Marquee tools, Lasso, Quick Selection, and Magic Wand; now, we're going to talk about adding and subtracting.1215

Let's work with the Freehand lasso tool.1227

We make a selection; if we want to add to it, there are two ways to do this.1231

All these tools have the add or subtract options, but again, we want to save time.1239

So, if you remember in the Intro to Selections, there is a shortcut for any of the selection tools: to add to a selection, hold down your shift key and simply (notice, when I do this--look at the cursor--shift key--you see the plus sign appear) all I have to do is draw, and it adds to my selection wherever I draw.1245

If I want to subtract, it's Option on a Mac/Alt on a PC, and you will see the minus sign appear, and I can subtract areas, even from the interior of a selection.1269

We'll do that again: make a selection; to add, Shift; to subtract, Option/Alt--very simple; or, utilize the checkboxes.1283

But again, we want to save time, so remember the shortcuts: Shift to add; Option/Alt to subtract.1295

In this lesson, we have talked about how the Marquee tools work (rectangles, ovals, or fix by using Option to go from or Shift to make a square or circle).1303

The Lasso tools: our Freehand lasso tool, the Polygonal tool (which makes straight edges)...1318

And by the way, with the straightedge tool, let's take a look at that really quickly; Deselect (Command/Control+D); let's make a straight-edged selection.1325

If we want to subtract, Option/Alt, click, click, click, click, click, and it pulled that section out as soon as I click it off.1337

If I want to add to it, hold down the Shift (there is the plus); so, all of the tools operate in the same fashion.1348

Now, we have added; Shift to add, Option/Alt to subtract, or utilize the boxes.1356

Notice, in the Lasso tool, they are there; they are also there in the Marquee tool and the Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and--we're going to deal with this in the other one--the Selection Brush; all have the add/subtract buttons there.1362

In this lesson, we have now gone over the primary tools, how to create the selection, how to add, how to subtract, and what the tools are actually doing.1379

The last thing we did is deal with adding and subtracting.1391

In the next lesson, we're going to deal with more of the options for the selection tools: feathering and taking the tools a little bit further.1395

I'll see you back in the next lesson!1405