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Using the Magic Wand Tool in Adobe Photoshop CS5

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From the book
With the Magic Wand tool, you simply click a color in the image and the tool selects all adjacent pixels of the same (or a similar) shade or color. In this excerpt from Photoshop CS5 for Windows and Macintosh: Visual QuickStart Guide, Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas show you how to use the Magic Wand tool.

Like the Color Range command, which is discussed on pages 156–157, the Magic Wand lets you control the range of pixels the tool selects, but unlike Color Range, this tool lets you add nonsimilar colors to the selection.

To select color areas with the Magic Wand tool

  1. Click a layer or the Background.
  2. Choose the Magic Wand tool wand-tool.jpg (W or Shift-W).
  3. On the Options bar:
    • Choose a Tolerance value (use the scrubby slider) to control the range of colors the tool selects (for a starting value, try between 30 and 40).
    • Check Anti-alias to allow the tool to add semitransparent pixels along the edges of the color areas it detects. This will produce smoother edge transitions for your image edits.
    • Check Contiguous to limit the selection to areas that are connected to the first pixel you click, or uncheck this option to allow the tool to select similarly colored, noncontiguous (unconnected) areas throughout the image with the same click.
    • To select possible occurrences of a similar color on all visible layers, check Sample All Layers, or uncheck this option to select colors on just the current layer.
  4. Click a color in the image.
  5. Unless your image contains nothing but totally flat color areas (which is unlikely), you’ll have to do some extra work to refine the selection. Do any of the following:
  6. Optional: If you have selected a background area that you want to remove and you clicked a layer in step 1, press Backspace/Delete;A or if you clicked the Background in step 1, press Ctrl-Backspace/Cmd-Delete.star.jpg Deselect (Ctrl-D/Cmd-D).
    • You can change the Tolerance value for the Magic Wand tool between clicks. For example, for more control when adding unselected shades or colors along the edges of a selection, lower the Tolerance value incrementally: Click with a Tolerance of 30–40 first, lower the value to 15–20 and click again, then finally lower it to 5–10 and click once more. To select just one color or shade, use a Tolerance of 0 or 1.
    • To undo the results of the last click made with the Magic Wand tool or to undo the last use of the Similar command, press Ctrl-Z/Cmd-Z.

To expand a selection using a command

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