Adobe Photoshop Tutorial. Copyright Michael B. Karbo.

  • Next chapter.
  • Previous chapter.

    17. Selections and shortcuts

    We have in the previous shown you some work methods, where you use different selection tools – often in combination with keys like Shift- and Alt. Let us here make a little summary of selections and the associated tools.

    Standard selecton tools

    The most fundamental tools are:

    ·     Selecton frames

    ·     Lassos

    ·     Magic wand

    You have tried them all in earlier exercises in this booklet. The tools can be adjusted in among other ways with thinning, as we have seen before (see the description of settings for the magnetic lasso page 49).

    Remember that you can always invert a selection with Control+Shift-+i. That is used very often. See Figure 31 that shows the effect of thinning and inversing.

    Common for all the selection tools is that you can change the selection. You can add additional areas to the selection, or you can subtract from it. We like to use Shift- and Alt when we need to add or subtract areas in a selection. But you can also choose to use the small buttons, which are seen in the settings line. They can be used when you work with one of the selecton tools (such as the lasso):


    Mouse with key

    Button in the settings line



    Expansion of selection.


    Subtraction from a selection.


    Combines the two selections
    (try for yourself).

    Alt +


    Figure 30. The common selection tools can each work in four different ways.

    Figure 31. Inversion and thinning extends the possibilities for selection.

    The erasers

    The erasers are not selection tools, but they are really good for removing backgrounds. And in that way the erasers supplement the different selection tools. There are three erasers in Photoshop’s tool box:

    The topmost, regular eraser works like a variant of the brush tool. You need to choose a brush thickness, then you go ahead and erase; that is quite mundane. The other two erasers are more advanced.

    The background eraser also uses brush settings. it can arease a background around a figure. In our experience it is a little difficult to make this tool work well, but try that for yourself!

    When you click with the tool the color is gathered in the center of the brush. All those pixels of the same color within the brush area are erased. You can control the effect with the Tolerance setting:

    Magic eraser is an obvious favorite. It can often remove the whole background in one move. It simply finds pixels that are identical within a specified tolerance. The pixel areas can be contiguous if you so desire. You can make an edge smoothing. And finally you can adjust the opacity (that holds true for all the erasers). If you set it to 50%, the areas are erased by 50%, so they become partially transparent. That is just neat!

    Figure 32. The settings line for the magic eraser.

    Advanced selections

    You can get far with the regular selection tools and the erasers. But there are smarter methods for many tasks. You have already tried some of them; you will encounter others later in the booklet. I am talking about these functions:

    ·     Extract

    ·     Quick Mask

    ·     Layer Mask

    ·     Color Range

    You have tried the Extract function in the previous chapters. That function works in a special screen window with its own tools (see page 63).

    The Quick mask function is quite another work format for selecton of picture areas. You will be working with that in an exercise on page 109. Quick Mask is also good as supplement to regular selections, wich can be improved.

    Layer Mask is a third way to make selections, where you use one layer as ”mask” for another. You wil try that in the exercises on page 90ff.

    Color Range function

    Color Range is another Photoshop specialty for selection. The function is actually designed to make a selection witin another selection, where you choose areas with specified colors, and that can give good results.

    Try the Color Range function for yourself in this exercise, where you will make a selection that can be used to improve the color effect in a picture:

    1.   Open the image file sapiens1.psd wich you have made before. Choose menu items Select --> Color Range.

    2.   Choose Sampled Colors in the Select field, and set the Fuzziness value to 50:

    3.   Click on the small icon here, then the mouse cursor becomes a pipette:


    4.   Now drag the pipette into the figure. Click somewhere in the red area:

    5.   Then you see the resulting selection in the small picture as a white area (see Figure 33). So the function finds those areas with corresponding red colors. You will not see large areas selected. But try to increase the fuzzyness value, then larger areas are selected.

    6.   Select fuzziness 110 and click OK.

    7.   Now you see the selection in the picture. All areas with corresponding red colors are selected:

    8.   Copy the selected picture area with Control+c. Insert the copy with Control+v.

    9.   Remove the selection with Control+d. Now you have two layers in the same picture, and you will utilize that in the next exercise.

    Figure 33. The Color Range functon in Photoshop is one of the more advanced selection methods.

  • Next chapter.
  • Previous chapter.

  • Adobe Photoshop book overview.