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Easier Selections with the Quick Selection Tool

This is another one of those tools in Photoshop Elements that makes you think, “What kind of math must be going on behind the scenes?” because this is some pretty potent mojo for selecting an object (or objects) within your photo. What makes this even more amazing is that I was able to inject the word “mojo” into this introduction, and you didn’t blink an eye. You’re one of “us” now....

Step One:

Open the photo that has an object you want to select (in this example, we want to select the hat). Go to the Toolbox and choose the Quick Selection tool (or just press the A, for Awesome, key).

Step Two:

The Quick Selection tool has an Auto-Enhance checkbox up in the Options Bar. By default, it’s turned off. My line of thinking is this: when would I ever not want an enhanced (which in my book means better) selection from the Quick Selection tool? Seriously, would you ever make a selection and say, “Gosh, I wish this selection looked worse?” Probably not. So go ahead and turn on the Auto-Enhance checkbox, and leave it that way from now on.

Step Three:

Take the Quick Selection tool and simply paint squiggly brush strokes inside of what you want to select. You don’t have to be precise, and that is what’s so great about this tool—it digs squiggles. It longs for the squiggles. It needs the squiggles. So squiggle.

Step Four:

As you paint, the Quick Selection tool makes your selection for you, based on the area that you painted over. If the selection includes areas you don’t want, such as a little bit of the hammock here, simply press-and-hold the Alt (Mac: Option) key and paint over the unwanted part. This removes it from your selection.

Step Five:

Now that we’ve got it selected, we might as well do something to it, eh? How about this: let’s leave the hat in color, and make the background black and white. You start by going under the Select menu and choosing Inverse (which inverses your selection so you’ve got everything selected but the hat). Go under the Enhance menu, under Adjust Color, and choose Remove Color. That’s it. Now you can de-select by pressing Ctrl-D (Mac: Command-D).

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