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Decoding the Photoshop Selection Tools: Marquee

Alas, our journey through the selection tools is coming to an end. Over the past several weeks, we’ve explored the Magic Wand, the Selection Brush, the Lasso, and Quick Selection, and our last stop lands us at the Marquee.

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Decoding the Photoshop Selection Tools: Quick Selection

This week we’ll stop by Quick Selection and see what all the fuss is about. It’s one of a handful of editing tools in the selection arsenal, which is one of the most important and versatile sections in Photoshop.

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Decoding the Photoshop Selection Tools: Selection Brush

We’ve conquered the Magic Wand. We’ve lassoed the Lasso. Now it’s time to continue on our journey and unearth another of the Photoshop selection tools! This week we will discuss the Selection Brush, a classic choice in the arsenal, and give you the tips you need to use it effectively. But first, let’s recap why we may need these tools in the first place. If you need to cut out an object, or modify only part of an image, then the selection tools are just the ticket. This is one of the most common editing actions, so it’s important to know which individual tool is best for your needs. Whether you want to change the color of someone’s shirt or move a flowerpot to the other edge of the frame, selection tools are crucial in getting the job done! So, what makes the Selection Brush different? Well, this is the one and only tool that gives the user (that’s you!) complete freedom. The program doesn’t anticipate edges, or look for colors…it simply selects exactly where you tell it to. And for this reason, it’s hands down the most versatile of the selection tool set. This is also the device to use for touching up after you’ve implemented one of the others, such as the Magic Wand. The fine control of the brush allows you to capture the exact object you want, down to the very last pixel! Let’s open up a sample image just like we did in our previous tutorials, a black to white gradient with a color cutout in the middle:   Okay, to find the Selection Brush, go to your side toolbar, under the group called Select, and it should be on the bottom right corner. There are three tools imbedded here: Quick Selection, Magic Wand, and the Selection Brush. You’ll know when you’ve found the brush when your bottom bar looks like this:   From here, there are several ways to customize your Selection Brush: Using a default brush from the dropdown menu (these are great if you need to have consistency across a group of images and don’t want to memorize the size and hardness settings) Using the Size slider bar (this simply makes your brush…you guessed it…bigger or smaller) Using the Hardness slider bar (this will give your brush fuzzy/blurred edges towards the low end or crisp/clear edges towards the high end) In order to show just how much control you have with the Selection Brush, I drew a ridiculous smiley face right in the middle of my image. The brush doesn’t care if there’s a blue object or a gradient; the brush only cares about my mouse strokes. For simplicity, I used a size of 100px and a hardness of 50%:   This brush is especially useful when you want to make one selection with multiple non-touching sites. Like with my smiley face, there are three different spots (two eyes, one mouth), but they are combined into one selection. This typically isn’t possible with tools like the Magic Wand, Marquee, or Lasso. If you need to use the brush to do detailed edge work, be sure to increase your hardness to 100% for super clean lines and adjust your size towards the smaller end, depending on the size of your image, for finer control.   Now, I’m sure you’re wondering about that extra dropdown menu in the bottom bar, the one that currently says Selection. This is where things just start to get fun! There are two options under this menu: Selection – this keeps your brush as is (meaning there are...

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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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Slice Tool to Blend Photoshop and Web Projects

A project in Adobe Photoshop can be finished in print or on the web. For each, there are many considerations to make including a color model, file size, and the overall layout design. However, the Slice tool in Photoshop empowers you to transition a Photoshop project to the web easily. The Slice tool allows you to create unique sections (or Slices) of your project. The actual Slice can be created by using the Slice tool and drawing it manually, or you can use existing guides and create your slices from the guide intersections by clicking the ‘Slices from Guides’ option in the toolbar. After a Slice is created with the Slice tool, you can use the Slice Select tool to control and manipulate it. Each Slice has options and can be named and controlled independently as needed. In addition, you can set a background type, exact dimensions, URL, Target, Message Text, and Alt tag property in the Slice options dialog box. When you have finished fine-tuning all of your Slice options and are ready to export to the web, you are ready to use the ‘Save for Web and Devices’ command. This feature of Photoshop allows you to prepare every Slice individually or all of them as a whole for the best optimized web file type and performance. Lastly, when you click ‘Save’ from this screen, the next dialog box will give you two additional options than normal: ‘Settings’ and ‘Slices’. Settings will allow you to choose between different output styles for your Photoshop project including an HTML table or HTML/CSS ‘div’ tags. You should always use the div tag option if this project is an entire layout for a web page. The ‘Slices’ option of the ‘Save’ dialog box will allow you to save all slices or individually selected slices. This gives you the flexibility to update one section of your design and re-output it, while not having to completely start from scratch. In the end, Photoshop will save each Slice as a separate image file and generate the necessary HTML/CSS to get your web page started. For simple web pages, this may be all you need. However, more complex pages may require additional work to complete the web design. I always try to start a web design in Photoshop as a wireframe and then convert it to a web page. The Slice tool allows me the freedom to do this with no additional effort or web programming necessary. The next time you are using Photoshop, try out the slice tool for yourself and see if it helps you as well. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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