Selecting with the Color Range Tool
When the selection you need to make can be identified by its color, the Color Range selection tool provides a great alternative to the Magic Wand. To see this tool at work, choose Select > Color Range. From the Select drop-down list, choose what you want to select. Use the Sampled Colors option to select a color by clicking with the eyedropper on the image. Alternatively, you can choose to make a selection of all the reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues, or magentas in the image. Further options include the ability to select the highlights, midtones, or shadows.
To make a selection of colors you sample yourself, set the Select Option to Sampled Colors and click with the eyedropper on a color in the image. The areas that match the color under the eyedropper will be selected and will appear as white or light gray in the preview image in the Color Range dialog box. To add colors to the selection, click the Add to Sample tool (the eyedropper with a plus sign) and click again on other colors in the image until you've selected everything you want to select. Use the Subtract from Sample eyedropper to remove colors from the selection. The Fuzziness slider enables you to select more or fewer colors—adjust the slider until you're satisfied with the selection, as shown in Figure 7.
Figure 7 The Color Range tool lets you make a selection based on color. Use the Fuzziness slider to adjust the amount of color selected.
To preview the selection on the image, choose an option from the Selection Preview menu: Grayscale, Black Matte, White Matte, or Quick Mask. These options show you the area you've selected. When you're happy with the selection, click OK and the selection marquee will appear on your image.
The Color Range tool is particularly useful for selecting highlights, midtones, and shadows when you need to adjust these settings separately in an image. It's a worthy alternative to the Magic Wand because it offers more options for making color-based selections, including the ability to preview the selection before committing to it.