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  1. Creating selections
  2. Working with selections
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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).

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