Adobe Photoshop Tutorial. Copyright Michael B. Karbo.

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    9. Start selecting

    One of the important features in Photoshop is selection. This means that you select one or more areas in a picture. When you have made a selection, you can work on that area. You can copy it and do everything else with it. But first the area has to be selected. That can be done in really many ways in Photoshop.

    In this part of the booklet you will work with a number of tools, all of which can make selections. You will also see how selections can be saved, and how the background can be removed from selected figures. In that connection you often need to retouch pictures, so you will try that also. Have fun!

    In this chapter we introduce the ”easiest” selection tools: Lasso and Magic wand.


    You need to use a photo, which you can find on the home page for this booklet.

    1.   Use the link to the image file flower1.jpg, and download that to your hard disk.

    2.   Then the picture has to be read into Photoshop. Select menu items File --> Open…, or use the shortcut Control+o.

    3.   Now you have to work on the picture, so you start but saving it in Photoshop’s own file format. Select menu items Files --> Save As… or use the shortcut Control+Shift-+s. Choose again the format Photoshop (*.PSD, *.PDD), so the image file will be named flower1.psd:

    4.   You will be deleting picture areas, so the background color needs to be white. Press the shortcut letter d, which activates the default colors black/white:

    5.   It is very important to be able to zoom in and out in a picture, also while you work with selection tools.

    6.   First try to zoom in. Choose zoom tool in the tool box, either by clicking on it or by pressing the shortcut letter z.      

    7.   Click in the picture to enlarge the view. To reduce you need to hold the Alt key down while you click. Try that!

    8.   Try also to zoom with the shortcut Control++ (the plus symbol). You similarly reduce with Control+- (the minus symbol).

    Now you have tried zoom – finish with a zoom size that lets you see the whole flower picture.

    First selection with lasso

    Now you are going to learn how to friee scrape a figure. That means that a figure (here the white flower) needs to be isolated from the background.

    1.   You have the picture flower1 on the screen.

    2.   Press the shortcut letter l, which activates the Lasso selection tool:

    3.   Notice the mouse cursor, it has changed to a small lasso.

    4.   Try to drag the tool around in the picture. You are dragging like a line following the lasso.

    5.   Then release the tool. Then the line closes, and it is converted to a selection. The line blinks, so you can see that it is a selection:

    6.   Now cancel the selection with the shortcut Control+d. Then try to make another selection. It should look like what you see above.

    7.   Now you could delete the selected area by pressing Delete. Try that, the selected area disappears and is replaced with the background color (white):

    8.   But that was not the intent. Cancel the deletion with Control+z.

    9.   A selection can always be expanded. You still have a portion of the picture selected. Press and hold the Shift- key down, and start to drag the lasso aound in a new area.

    10. Release the Shift- key and continue in the new selection. Notice the small + symbol by the cursor, which means that additional areas are added to an existing selection. In this way the selection is expanded:


    11. When you release the tool, the selection is expanded with the new area.

    12. Try that a few times: Cancel the selection with Control+d. Make a lasso selection. Expand the selection by holding the Shift- key down while you start a new selection.

    13. Finally try if you can select the whole flower with the lasso. That is almost impossible. Cancel the selection with Control+d.

    The magic wand

    The magic wand is a selection tool, which we can have benefit from now. The magic wand is good in pictures with clearly defined color areas. Since the flower picture consists almost exclusively of white/yellow colors it ought to be a simple matter to isolate the motif from the background with the magic wand.

    1.   You have the flower on the screen. Click on the magic wand in the tool box. That is number two button in the right column:

    2.   You can also activate the magic wand just by using the shortcut letter w.

    3.   Then find the tool’s adjustments in the settings line. Make sure that there is a check mark by Anti-aliased – that softens the edges of the selection, and you avoid a choppy appearance.

    4.   Now try to click around in the picture. Hit the flower, and see how the magic wand tries to find a fairly uniformly colored area. Remember that you can cancel selections with Control+d.

    5.   Try to make a selection as shown below. Ckick somewhere in top of the flower:

    6.   But there are still areas that are not selected. Then it is a good thing that the selection can be expanded. Hold the Shift- key down while you click in new parts of the flower. Notice the plus symbol by the magic wand’s cursor, which tells that the selection is being expanded:

    7.   Similarly you can remove areas from the selection by holding the Alt key down while you click. Try that for yourself.

    You could easily select the whole flower this way, but that is often to cumbersome. Let’s use another route …

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