Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Design > Adobe Creative Suite

📄 Contents

  1. Creating selections
  2. Working with selections
  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Working with selections

Deselect, Reselect, Delete a Selection

To deselect a selection:

With any selection tool chosen, right-click/ Ctrl-click on the image and choose Deselect.


With any tool chosen, press Ctrl-D/Cmd-D (or if you want to be slow about it, choose Select > Deselect).


Click inside the selection with any selection tool  1 .

Figure 5.23 1  Click inside a selection to deselect it.

Note: If you click outside the selection with the Magic Wand, Polygon Lasso, or Magnetic Lasso tool, you will create a new selection.


It's difficult to reselect the same area twice, so deselect a selection only when you're sure you've finished using it. If you unintentionally deselect, choose Undo immediately. If you think you might want to reuse a selection, save it as a path or in an alpha channel.

To reselect the last selection:

With any selection tool chosen, right click/ Ctrl-click on the image and choose Reselect.


With any tool chosen, press Ctrl-Shift-D/ Cmd-Shift-D (or choose Select > Reselect).


If you click a prior state on the History palette that involved a selection, the Reselect command will reselect the selection from that prior state.

If you delete a selection from a layer, the original selection area will become transparent  2 . If you delete a selection from the Background, the selection area will fill with the current Background color  3 .

Figure 5.24 2  A selection deleted from a layer

Figure 5.25 3  A selection deleted from the Background

To delete a selection:

Press Backspace/Delete.


Choose Edit > Clear.


Choose Edit > Cut (Ctrl-X/Cmd-X) to place the selection on the Clipboard.

Move Selection Marquee

Follow these instructions to move only the selection marquee—not its contents.

To move a selection marquee:

  1. Optional: To aid in positioning the marquee, choose View > Show > Grid or drag a guide or guides from the horizontal or vertical ruler. Also, turn on View > Snap To > Guides and/or View > Snap To > Grid.

  2. Choose any selection tool.

  3. Drag inside the selection 3. Hold down Shift after you start dragging to constrain movement to a multiple of 45°.


    Press any arrow key to move the marquee one pixel at a time.


    You can drag a selection marquee from one image window into another image window using a selection tool.


    If you drag a selection on a layer using the Move tool, the selection's pixel contents will be cut from that layer and the empty space will be replaced by layer transparency. If a selection is moved on the Background, on the other hand, the empty space will be filled with the current Background color.

Inverse Selection; Hide Selection Edges

To switch the selected and unselected areas:

With any selection tool chosen, right-click/ Ctrl-click and choose Select Inverse.


With any tool chosen, press Ctrl-Shift-I/ Cmd-Shift-I (or choose Select > Inverse)  1  2 .

Figure 5.26 1  The original selection: The angels are selected.

Figure 5.27 2  After inverting the selection: Now the background is selected.

Choose the same command again (or use the same shortcut) to switch back to the original selection.


It's easy to select a shape on a solid-color background: Choose the Magic Wand tool, enter 5 or less in the Tolerance field on the Magic Wand options bar, click the solid-color background to select it entirely, then choose Select > Inverse.

Sometimes selection edges ("marching ants") can be annoying or distracting. To hide them temporarily, follow the instructions below. You can even hide selection edges while some Image menu and Filter menu dialog boxes are open.

To hide a selection marquee:

Choose View > Show > Selection Edges to uncheck the command. The selection will remain active.

To redisplay the selection marquee, choose View > Show > Selection Edges (it should have a checkmark).

The Ctrl-H/Cmd-H shortcut hides/shows whichever options are currently available on the Show submenu. The Show Extras Options dialog box  3  (View > Show > Show Extras Options) controls what options are listed on the Show submenu.

Figure 5.28 3  In the Show Extras Options dialog box, check or uncheck the onscreen features you want to show/hide using the Ctrl-H/Cmd-H shortcut.


To verify that a selection is still active, press on the Select menu. Most of the commands will be available if a selection is active.

Transform, Modify Selection Marquee

Note: The Transform Selection command (discussed below) affects only the selection marquee—not its contents. To transform pixel contents, you can either use a command on the Edit > Transform submenu or you can transform selection contents using the bounding box (see page 138).

To transform a selection marquee:

  1. With any selection tool chosen, right-click/Control-click on the image and choose Transform Selection from the context menu.


    With any tool chosen, choose Select > Transform Selection.

  2. Follow the instructions on pages 138–140 to flip, rotate, scale, etc.  1  2 .

    Figure 5.29 1  Scaling a selection marquee

    Figure 5.30 2  The marquee is enlarged—not its contents.

To modify a selection marquee via a menu command:

Choose Select > Modify > Smooth (see page 132)  3  or choose Select > Modify > Expand or Contract, enter a value, then click OK.

Figure 5.31 3  You can use any of the Select > Modify submenu commands to modify an existing selection


Choose Select > Grow or Similar. These two commands use the current Magic Wand Tolerance setting (see page 97). You can repeat either command to further expand the selection.


Choose the Magic Wand tool, then right-click/Ctrl-click and choose Grow or Similar.

Add to or Subtract from a Selection

To add to a selection:

Choose any selection tool other than the Magic Wand, click the "Add to selection" button on the options bar  1 , choose other options bar settings for the tool, if desired, then drag across the area to be added  2  3 . (To bypass the "Add to selection" button, position the cursor over the selection, then Shift-drag over the area to be added.)

Figure 5.32 1  Use any of these buttons on the options bar to amend a selection.

Figure 5.33 2  The original selection

Figure 5.34 3  After adding an additional selection area


Click the Magic Wand tool, click the "Add to selection" button on the options bar, then click outside the selection. (To bypass the "Add to selection" button, Shift-click outside the selection.)


If the additional selection overlaps the original selection, it will become part of the new, larger selection. If the addition doesn't overlap the original selection, a second, separate selection will be created.

To subtract from a selection:

Choose any selection tool other than the Magic Wand, click the "Subtract from selection" button on the options bar  1 , choose other options bar settings, if desired, then drag around the area to be subtracted. (To bypass the "Subtract from selection" button, Alt-drag/Option-drag around the area to be subtracted.)


Click the Magic Wand tool, click the "Subtract from selection" button on the options bar, then click inside the selection. (To bypass the "Subtract from selection" button, Alt-click/Option-click inside the selection.)

To select the intersection of two selections:

  1. With a selection present, choose a selection tool.

  2. Click the Intersect with selection button on the options bar  1 , then create a new selection that overlaps the current selection  4  5 . (To bypass the button, Alt-Shift-drag/Option-Shift-drag.)

    Figure 5.35 4  A circular selection is drawn over an existing selection with Alt/Option and Shift held down.

    Figure 5.36 5  Only the intersection of the two selections remains selected.

Vignette an Image

To vignette an image:

  1. For a multi-layer image, choose a pixel layer, and unselect the Lock: transparent pixels button, if necessary. The vignette you create is going to appear to fade into the layer or layers below it.

    For an image with a Background only, choose a Background color (see pages 179–182) for the area around the vignette.

  2. Choose the Rectangular Marquee or Elliptical Marquee tool (M or Shift-M), or the Lasso tool (L or Shift-L).

  3. Enter 15 or 20 px in the Feather field on the options bar. Alternatively, you can feather the selection after it's created (after step 4) using Select > Feather.

  4. Create a selection  1 .

    Figure 5.37 1  First create a feathered-edge selection.

  5. With the selection tool still chosen, right-click/Ctrl-click on the image and choose Select Inverse.

  6. Press Backspace/Delete.

  7. Right-click/Ctrl-click on the image and choose Deselect  2  5 .

Figure 5.38 2  The vignette

Figure 5.39 3  The original image (Peter's relatives—no kidding)

Figure 5.40 4  The vignette

Figure 5.41 5  For this image, we applied the Glass filter after step 5.


If you've ever torn your hair out trying to mask a shape with an irregular edge (a figure with curly hair or an animal in a landscape), you'll appreciate the Extract command. The nicest thing about this feature is that you'll create the mask on a full-size preview right in the dialog box  1 , so you can tweak it until you're certain you've got it just right. When you click OK, the masked area will be preserved, and the remaining areas will be erased to transparency.

Figure 5.42 1  After outlining the chimp with the Edge Highlighter tool and filling the interior of the chimp with the Fill tool.

To mask a shape using the Extract command:

  1. Note: For safety's sake, work on a copy of the image—or at least on a duplicate layer. You could also make a snapshot of the original image.

    Choose the layer from which you want to extract imagery.

  2. Choose Filter > Extract (Ctrl-Alt-X/ Cmd-Option-X). A full-screen, resizable dialog box will open.

  3. You'll use the Edge Highlighter to mask the object border first, and then click on the interior with the Fill tool to define the fill.

    Choose the Edge Highlighter tool from the toolbox in the dialog box (B)  2 .

    Figure 5.43 2  Tools and tool shortcuts in the Extract dialog box


    In the Tool Options area  3 , enter or choose a Brush Size in pixels for the marker. The sharper the edge of the object you're going to extract, the smaller the brush you can use. Use a large brush if the shape has wide, choppy edges.

    Figure 5.44 3  Choose Tool Options on the right side of the Extract dialog box.


    Choose Red, Green, or Blue as the Highlight color for the mask. Or choose Other and choose a color from the Color Picker.

  4. Optional: If you're going to trace a crisp-edged shape (e.g., a geometric shape), check Smart Highlighting. The highlight will be the minimum width necessary to cover the edge of the shape, regardless of the current brush size.

    Channel it

    To make the marker highlight conform to the shape of a selection, create a selection, choose Select > Modify > Border (Width about 12 pixels), then click OK. Inverse the selection, and save the selection in an alpha channel (see page 276). Choose Filter > Extract, then choose that alpha channel from the Extraction: Channel pop-up menu. Finally, click with the Fill tool (G) inside the highlighted area.

  5. Drag around the border of the area of the image you want to extract. Complete the loop to make a closed shape. Drag right along the object's border so as to catch any frizz or fringe. You don't need to drag along the edge of the canvas area if the imagery extends that far.

    Optional: Raise the Extraction: Smooth value to eliminate extraneous pixels.

    Choose the Fill (second) tool (G) from the toolbox in the dialog box.


    Choose Red, Green, or Blue as the Fill color for the mask. Or choose Other and choose a color from the Color Picker.


    Click on the area of the image that you want to extract. (Click again to un-fill.)

    Note: To extract pixels of one color, instead of using the Fill tool, check Force Foreground, choose the Eyedropper tool in the dialog box (I), then click a color in the preview window. Or click the Color swatch and choose a color from the Color Picker.

  6. Use the Eraser tool (E) from the dialog box if you need to unmask any masked areas. Choose a Brush Size for the Eraser in the Tool Options area of the dialog box.


    To zoom in on the preview, press Ctrl- +/Cmd- +. To zoom out, press Ctrl- -/Cmd- -. You could also use the Zoom tool in the dialog box (Alt-click/Option-click to reduce the view).


    If the preview is at greater than 100% view, you can use the Hand tool from the dialog box (H) to move it around in the preview window (press the spacebar to access the Hand tool temporarily).

  7. Click Preview, then in the Preview area of the dialog box, do any of the following:

    Check Show Highlight and/or Show Fill.

    Choose Show: Extracted to toggle to the extracted image view; choose Original to toggle back to the original image.

    Choose Display: None to display the background as transparent; choose Black Matte, Gray Matte, or White Matte to display the extracted shape on a background of black, gray, or white, respectively; choose Other to choose a custom color; or choose Mask to display the discarded area as black and the protected area as white.

  8. To refine the mask further, do any of the following:

    Use the Cleanup tool (C) to gradually subtract opacity. (Alt-drag/Option-drag to restore opacity.)

    Use the Edge Touchup tool (T) to gradually sharpen edges.

    Change the Smooth value.

  9. Click OK. If you want to restore lost areas now, use the History Brush tool  1  2  (see pages 160–161). Or to erase further by hand, use the Background Eraser (see pages 228–229).

    Figure 5.45 1  After extracting (chimp not in the mist)

    Figure 5.46 2  This is after using the History Brush tool to restore areas of the chimp's face and arm. The Cleanup tool could have been used instead (see step 10).

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

Peachpit Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Peachpit and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Peachpit products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive:

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020