Photoshop for beginners – selections

Photoshop for beginners – selections bring you an overview and step-by-step tutorial on how to use essential selection tools in Photoshop.

Selections in Photoshop

Selection separates one or more parts of the image. When you select specific regions, you can apply adjustments, effects, and filters to those parts of the image, leaving unselected regions unchanged. You can copy, move, paste, or save to alpha channels. In alpha channels, selections are saved as grayscale images, called masks. A mask is like the opposite of a selection: it covers unselected parts of the image and protects them from any adjustments or manipulations you apply. The saved mask can be converted back to selection by loading the alpha channel into the image.

Selections in Photoshop can be further modified, copied, pasted and even stored for later usage.

Let us have a look at the main selections tool available in Photoshop:

  1. Marquee tool
  2. Lasso Tools
  3. Magic Wand Tool
  4. Quick Selection Tool

Marquee tool

Marquee tool lets you select regular shaped areas like rectangles, ellipses or single row or column. How to use :

  • Open any image in Photoshop
  • ​Select for example Rectangular Marquee tool
  • Now draw a rectangle marquee around the area you want to select

Now you can edit selected part of the image as you wish. You can create an adjustment layer, copy selected part of the image to another separate layer, apply a filter, or any effect. If you wish to reposition a rectangular or elliptical marquee, first drag to create the selection border, keeping the mouse button depressed. Then hold down the spacebar and continue to drag. Release the spacebar, but keep the mouse button depressed, if you need to continue adjusting the selection border.

Lasso tool

Selecting with Lasso tools is popular when you need to draw freeform selection areas.

  • To select with Lasso tool, chose the tool first, and set feathering and anti-aliasing in the options bar.

  • Drag to draw a freehand selection shape

  • To close the selection, release the mouse.

  • If you want to select a straight-ended segment, use the Polygonal Lasso tool.

Select the Polygonal Lasso tool and select options. Set feathering and anti-aliasing in the options bar. Click on the image to set the starting point. Draw a straight segment, position the pointer where you want the first straight segment to end, and click. Continue clicking to set endpoints for subsequent segments.

If you need to draw a straight line at a multiple of 45°, hold down Shift as you move to click the next segment. For erasing recently drawn straight segments, press the Delete key. To close the selection border position the Polygonal Lasso tool pointer over the starting point (a closed circle appears next to the pointer), and click.

When you use the Magnetic Lasso tool, the border snaps to the edges of defined areas in the image. The Magnetic Lasso tool is especially useful for quickly selecting objects with complex edges set against high-contrast backgrounds.


Click on the image to set the first fastening point. Fastening points are tracking the selection border of a selected object.

Move the pointer along the edge you want to trace. The most recent segment of the selection border remains active. As you move the pointer, the active segment snaps to the strongest edge in the image, based on the detection width set in the options bar. That is why this selection tool is ideal for an object that is in good contrast with the background. Periodically, the

Magnetic Lasso tool adds fastening points to the selection border to anchor previous segments. If the border doesn’t snap to the desired edge, click once to add a fastening point manually. Continue to trace the edge and add fastening points as needed. To close the border with a magnetic segment, double-click, or press Enter or Return.

Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand tool lets you select a consistently colored area (for example, a blue sky) without having to trace its outline. You specify the selected color range, or tolerance, relative to the original color you click.

  • Select the Magic Wand tool

In the options bar, specify any of the following:

- Tolerance - specify the range of color of selected pixels. Enter a value in pixels from 0 to 255. A low value selects the few colors very similar to the pixel you click, so the selection will be narrower. A higher value selects a broader range of colors and therefore the selection will be wider.
- Anti-aliased -  to get a smoother selection.
- Contiguous - Selects only adjacent areas using the same colors. Otherwise, all pixels in the entire image using the same colors are selected.
- Sample All Layers - Selects colors using data from all the visible layers. Otherwise, the Magic Wand tool selects colors from the active layer only.

  • Click on the image the color you want to select. All pixels in the tolerance range are selected.
  • (Optional) Click Refine Edge to further adjust the selection.

Quick selection tool

The quick selection tool is Useful tool to quickly “paint” a selection using a round brush which can be adjusted. As you drag, the selection expands and automatically finds and follows defined edges in the image.

  • Select the Quick Selection tool. If the tool isn’t visible, hold down the Magic Wand tool.
  • ​In the options bar, click one of the selection options: New, Add To, or Subtract From.
  • New is the default option if nothing is selected. After making the initial selection, the option changes automatically to Add To.
  • Change the brush size by clicking the Brush pop-up menu in the options bar, and type in pixel size.
  • Choose Quick Selection options. i. Sample All Layers – to make a selection based on all layers ii. Auto-Enhance – to reduce roughness in the selection.
  • Paint inside the part of the image you want to select. The selection grows as you paint. Continue to drag to allow time to complete work on the selection.
  • (Optional) Click Refine Edge to further adjust the selection

Universal rules for selection:

  • For selecting all pixels on a layer select the layer in the Layers panel and then Choose Select > All.

  • To Deselect selections do one of the following:

· Choose Select > Deselect.

· If you are using the Marquee tool or the Lasso tool, click anywhere in the image outside the selected area.

  • To reselect the most recent selection Choose Select > Reselect.


Find another useful selection tutorial here

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