Categories: Insights

Essential Photoshop Lesson 2: Making selections

Photoshop basics for beginners - essential photoshop

Hello you budding Photoshoperinos!  If you saw my blog last month, found here I gave you the basics of layers; an essential part of Adobe’s wonderful world.  Today we are going to look at another really important part of Photoshop, Selection.  Selection allows you to do wonderful things, with precision and ease.

So, I bet you are thinking right now, what on earth is selection?!  Basically, what you are doing when you are selecting something is saying “this area of the image is the bit I want!”  Take a look at this example:

‘Marching Ants’ area selected for editing – essential photoshop

In this photo I have selected around the skateboarder, you can see this with the line around him.  In Photoshop this line flashes and for us old school designers we may even refer to it as “marching ants.”  Now that we have selected him, we can do wonderful things:

‘Blocking’ selected area of the image – essential photoshop

You can block people out like above

‘Cutting’ out selected area – essential photoshop

Cut them out

‘Enlarge’ the edited area of the picture – essential photoshop

Or even make the selection bigger!  With Layers, selection is one of the key skills needed to use Photoshop well.  The possibilities are endless, from masking to altering one specific part of a photo. So how do you go about doing it?

I am going to show you one of the best ways to select things in Photoshop but there are lots of selection tools and each tool has a different use.

Firstly lets go into the polygonal lasso tool, which can be found in the tools on the left:

‘Polygonal lasso tool’ – essential photoshop

Open an image and try and use the tool to click around the object.  The more that you are zoomed in, the easier it is!  A few essential tips to using the lasso tool, If you hold space your lasso tool will turn into a hand, allowing you to drag yourself around the page.  This is super useful so you can move around with ease!  If you make a mistake, pressing delete will remove the last point that you have put down.

Also if you accidentally click twice you will close your path.  To add to this selection, hold down shift and you will see a little plus symbol near your cursor, then all you need to do is start clicking and you will add to it!  Holding down ALT and you will be able to subtract from the selection in the same way!

Once your selection is done, you can copy and paste this selection onto a new layer and then turn the layer off behind it and you will have cut out your first object!

Now, there are lots of other selection tricks to take a look into such as the magic wand tool, the pen tool (which is a better way of doing it, but slightly trickier) and even new additions such as the quick selection tool.  All of these are useful but if you learn to master the polygonal lasso tool you cant really go wrong.

Before I go, a quick final piece of advice, there is a whole section in the top navigation dedicated to selection!

Have a play, select, cut, colour and have some fun!  See what you can do with layers and selection for some truly fantastic results!

Will Nash :Half octopus, half monster, Will is a a god amongst men (his own words.) He has over 10 years design experience, with a career spanning magazines, TV and web. When he grows up he would like to be a cat.