Create a Path
If you plan to use an image more than once, it pays to take time to prepare the image so it can be used over and over again. Open the image in Photoshop and make a selection around the object. Use the selection tools you like the best—for example, you might use the Quick Mask tool, the Magic Wand, or the Pen tool. If it is easier to do so, you can make a selection around what you don’t want and then invert it by choosing Select, Inverse (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 Sometimes it is easiest to select the area you don’t want to use and then invert the selection so you have the desired area selected.
The Pen tool creates the best selections. Use it to create a path around the object, which you can save and convert into a selection. Choose Window, Paths to open the Paths palette, click the path you have drawn, open the palette menu, and choose Save Path to save the path as a channel.
Now save your image as a .psd or .tif format file so the path information is stored in the file. To convert the path to a selection, from the Paths palette, click the path to select it and click the Load Path as Selection button at the foot of the palette (see Figure 2). You can now work with the selection as you would with any Photoshop selection.
Figure 2 When you save a path in an image it will be there when you next open the image. To convert it to a selection, click it and click the Load Path as Selection option.
You can also save a selection as a path if you make it with the Magic Wand tool, for example. With the selection active, open the Paths palette and click the Make Work Path From Selection button at the foot of the palette. You can now save the path and save the file, and you can work with your path as you could if you created it using the Pen tool.
Making and saving a selection as a path ensures that you can open the image and load the selection at any time in the future, and you won’t have to do all the work over again. It’s a good way to get value from time spent making a good selection.