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Decoding Photoshop Selection Tools: Lasso

Last time we looked at one of the more magical selection tools available in Photoshop, and we will continue on our journey this week! When you need to change or move a select portion of your image, there are several tools to choose from, and each has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. For this tutorial, I’d like to explore the Lasso tools (there are three variations) and give some examples of when to use them and when not to use them. So saddle up and get your lassos ready! This triad of tools consists of a basic lasso, a polygonal lasso, and a magnetic lasso. Let’s give you a brief intro to what makes them different. 1. Basic lasso: selects an area simply based upon where you drag your mouse, kind of like using the pen tool. Except this tool will automatically “close” your selection to make a loop or “lasso”, typically with a straight line. 2. Polygonal lasso: selects an area comprised of combined segments of straight lines, based up where you drag your mouse and where you tell it to change direction (or make a “corner”). In case you’ve forgotten your primary school geometry, a polygon is a 2-dimensional shape with straight sides (e.g. triangle, hexagon). You have to manually close this loop by clicking on your starting point. 3. Magnetic lasso: selects on area based upon the closest edge to where you drag your mouse. The selection line automatically seeks out what it thinks is your desired object (like a magnet), and will “close the lasso” based upon the object’s edges. First up, let’s delve into the Basic Lasso tool. Here I’ve created a basic image with a black to white gradient and a green recycling symbol (because who doesn’t love recycling?). This is building off of the Magic Wand tutorial, to give you some continuity in learning. You can find the lasso tool icon in the bar on the left hand side of your work area. All three variations are imbedded there and you can toggle back and forth using the alt > right click command (Mac). All the lasso  tools rely on is where you move your mouse (your “pen strokes”), but with the basic lasso it’s most pronounced. It’s just like drawing freehand, except that the program requires you to close the selection, no matter the shape. So, I can draw anywhere I want on this image, even using crazy lines: The lasso is indiscriminate when it comes to selection: it simply chooses what you tell it to, regardless of the shape, color, texture, or gradient. This makes it great for fine-detail work and for people with a really steady hand! You can use the basic lasso to make custom shapes and also works well if you don’t mind zooming way in to get things just right. Sometimes Photoshop can’t predict exactly what you want, so a human hand is required. But for this example, let’s say I wanted to select the top arrow only out of this image, using the basic lasso: Not so great right? Now, there is a way to fix this, using the Add and Subtract options down there in the bottom second section (see above). These allow me to clean up the edges by adding and subtracting bits (by hand) until I’ve achieved a smooth edge. But that’s a lot of work, and you’re in luck because there are better tools for the job! Let’s try the same thing with the Polygonal Lasso: It makes very lovely straight lines, but since my desired shape has some curve to it, this...

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Adobe Photoshop Tool Palette Cheat Sheet

Ever try to navigate your way through Adobe Photoshop, only to wonder what all the funky little icons mean? Here is a quick cheat sheet of Photoshop’s specific tool palette to help you out. Also, check out our Adobe Creative Suite Tools post to find out what all the other icons do! Edit in Quick Mask Mode It is: A selection tool like no other. What it does: Creates selected areas using any of Photoshop’s painting tools. This can be used in conjunction with other selection tools. What that means: This mode is a one-stop-shop to nail down a specific selection using tools that normally wouldn’t create selections. Spot Healing Brush Tool It is: A virtual dermatologist. What it does: Both healing brushes remove skin imperfections, red eye and other damages or degradation of photos. The Patch Tool is great for removing large sections of unwanted content from a photo. The Red Eye Tool is self-explanatory. Smudge Tool It is: A smearing tool. What it does: Creates blended, blurred and muddled effects to designs.   Move Tool It is: A highly useful tool for, well, moving stuff. What it does: Moves the current layer around the canvas. History Brush Tool It is: A great way to turn a real-life image on its head. What it does: Creates a copy of the image, and you can create any range of effects on the copy. The Art History Brush Tool is a great way to make images look like paintings. Dodge, Burn & Sponge Tools They are: Tools with odds names taken from old photography techniques. What they do: Dodge lightens pixels; burn darkens the area, and sponge can saturate or desaturate an area of color. Clone Stamp Tool It is: A technique to cover up parts of an image. What it does: Makes a duplicate of one area of an image that can be moved over another part of an image. Camera Rotate & 3D Object Rotate Tools They are: Tools for changing the viewpoint or manipulating an object of a 3D graphic. What they do: The camera rotate tools adjust various perspectives on two and three-dimensional plains. The object rotate tools allow you to select specific elements of a 3D design to alter the view or...

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Intro to WordPress: Why Use it for Your Business?

In the digital world, a website is crucial to a successful business. Starting a blog or website can be time-consuming, however – making it important to find software that is easy to learn and use. There are many tools on the market that provide similar results, but WordPress stands out above the rest because it has more features and is fully customizable. It is a great web management platform, and its software and hosting is completely free. What is WordPress? WordPress was originally released in 2003 as a blogging tool, but has – through updates and upgrades – become so much more. It is capable of providing more varied product than the leading competition. Other blogging platforms are only capable of providing more basic features, with a few exceptions. WordPress manages around 20% of new websites that you see and interact with on a daily basis. What is it for? As was mentioned, WordPress started as a blogging system but has since evolved into much more. It can be a full content management system, or a set or static informational page. It can also do both, and be a blog where updates and posts are made about the company, et cetera. Through the use of plugins, widgets and themes, WordPress can be used in many different ways. Businesses can use the program to meet any of their digital needs, including advertising, marketing and PR. The tool can be used completely on the internet, as a program downloaded onto a personal computer, or on an Android/iPhone device. Use on mobile devices is limited in its functions, but is fully capable of writing and editing posts. It also has a very simple interface enabling advanced and beginning users to learn to use the basic features fast. Here is an image of the simple interface: Here are some of the key features that make WordPress stand out above other similar platforms.  Included are also short descriptions of the features. After learning what WordPress is capable of, users can begin to think of ways to adapt them to meet their own business goals and needs. Key features Pages Themes Cross-blog communication tools Plugins Spam protection Workflow Pages Pages are static entries on a website that do not work like a regular blog. A blog is updated with new posts regularly, but a page is written once and published in its own place. This feature allows WordPress users to create content such as company information or create whole websites that do not have any blog in them. This is an important tool, but is common in most blogging platforms. WordPress does not stand out for this feature. Plugins By far the most useful part of WordPress is the plugins. This is where it stands out above other content management systems. Plugins can change a website drastically or modify it to meet specific needs of many different users. There are plugins for just about everything. Of note for marketing is a plugin that will for example automatically publish posts to a Facebook wall when a new article has been posted on WordPress. Another great plugin allows users to comment after logging into their favorite social network site. This allows them to link it to their friends and show them what they commented on. There are thousands of different plugins on the WordPress database. Themes The layout of WordPress is completely customizable. There are many pre-made themes that will work for many situations, but with the right knowledge of CSS, users can develop their own themes – personalizing their site that much more. Even if a...

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Selections and That Darn Lasso Tool

By Bill Guy Let’s start with the most basic of all selection tools, The Lasso Tool. This is the most talked about and hated tool in the tool bar. But here are some easy tips to make it a little more easy to use. 1. First, why not make it more helpful in just knowing where the heck it is going to be selecting from. Go to Edit>Preferences>Cursors. There you will find the “Look” of tools. I like to have mine with Painting Cursors set to Normal Brush and Other Cursors set to Precise. Takes away the cute little icons and just give you the facts. 2. Using the Lasso tool and a mouse is like trying to make a fine art drawing where you can’t see the paper and you are using a brick to draw with. This is not a precise type of tool. If you can you should try to use a Stylus and Tablet or if you don’t have one these check out tip 3. 3. Using a mouse and the lasso tool can be done but don’t think that you have to get it right all in step. Smaller bites of a selection is an easier and even faster way of making a selection. Just click on the Add On icon at the Tool Menu Bar (Second set of boxes on the left. Looks like two overlapping boxes) or hold down the Shift Key. This will change the look of the cursor to one with a plus sign next to it. Now you can rest your hand between selections and if you make a mistake it is over a much smaller area so it will be easy to redo. Just start inside the selected area and move to the next area for selection. Bonus Tip…One nice thing about having the Lasso set for Add On is it is always set for adding to the selection. However if you hold down the Alt or Option key it will change to Subtract. Then you can remove parts of the selections that go too far. Release the Alt key and you are back to Add On. There are two other Lasso tools hiding under the normal Lasso Tool: One is the Magnetic Lasso tool. It looks like a lasso with (what else) a magnet next to it. This handy little tool can “see” the contrast between pixels and stick to the edges. It does have some draw backs. If you are working in a low contrast area it may not see the differences in pixels. But you are able to click with the mouse to set a point or holding spot of the selection. The other is the Polygonal Lasso which I tend to use a lot. It makes straight lines of selections. To change directions or follow a curve just click the mouse to set a point. Works great for square objects and since I do a lot adjustments or repairs to my selections it really is fast for me. The most important tip of the day: Save your selections!!! I can’t tell how many times I have made a selection done the work and later had to make the same selection again. Saving selections is easy and only adds a fraction of bits or file size to any image. Once your selection is done and the marching ants are still active, go to Select>Save Selection. You will get a little menu pop up where you can name your selection (“Sky,” “Eyes,” “Dress,” “Red Car” or whatever makes sense to you) and click ok. Then if...

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