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Getting Started with Photoshop

Information on Photoshop basics including: how to open and create a new image, navigating palettes, learning the parts of a layer, how to use guides, and where to go for more help at the University of Michigan.

Working with Selection Tools

To modify a portion of your image you need to select it first – everything outside the selected area is then protected from change. The selected area is then outlined with a dotted line, what we refer to as “dancing ants.” The Selection Tools allow you to select portions of the image either by location or by pixel color, and thus apply Photoshop’s editing power in specific areas. All selection tools can be combined to create exact selections using the Shift key or Alt key (Option key on the Mac), to add or subtract respectively (see below for more tips).

In addition, there is a Refine Edge button in each selection tool Options Palette (see the Marquee Tool and Feathering Exercise for a picture of this dialog box). You can adjust the edges of your selection – sharpen or blur, smooth the transition, etc. – and then preview what it would look like against different backgrounds.

Marquee Tools: The Marquee Tool allows you to make a selection using a rectangle, ellipse, or rows.  Select one of the Marquee Tools by clicking and holding on the tool, then sliding over and down to the correct selection.

Rectangular Marquee Tool Elliptical Marquee Tool

Lasso Tools: The Lasso and Polygon Lasso let you draw both freehand and straight-edged segments of a selection border.  The Magnetic Lasso snaps to the edges of a color in the image and is especially useful for quickly selecting objects with complex edges set against high-contrast backgrounds.  You can select one of the Lasso Tools by clicking and holding on the
Lasso Tool, sliding over and selecting the correct option.

Lasso Tool Polygonal Lasso Tool Magnetic Lasso Tool

The Quick Selection Tool: The Quick Selection Tool allows you to paint over the area that you would like to select by using an adjustable brush tip. As you drag over the area, the selection expands and follows defined edges within the image.


Magic Wand Tool: The Magic Wand selects pixels based on color value, not on their placement in the image, and so lets you select an area with similar colors without having to trace its outline. The Magic Wand is now found under the Quick Selection Tool.


Selection Tool Tips

·      To add to a selection, hold down the Shift key and select the additional areas, (you’ll see a plus sign (+) by the crosshair).

·      To subtract from your selection, hold down the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac) and draw the additional shape (you’ll see a minus sign (-) by the crosshair). For example, if you have a circle selected and drag another smaller circle inside it while pressing the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac), the selected shape is then a donut.

·      To make a circle or a square with the Marquee Tool, hold down the Shift key as you drag.

·      To drag a marquee from its center, hold down the Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac) as you begin dragging.

·      To reposition a marquee, click inside the selection, then drag it to the desired location.

Additional Resources (this is Draft/Unpublished because it's out of date)