77. Paint a Selection
Before You Begin
70 About Making Selections
72 Select a Rectangular or Circular
73 Draw a Selection Freehand
75 Select an Object by Tracing Its Edge
76 Select Areas of Similar Color
You can paint your selection on an image using the Selection Brush tool. When you paint a selection, you continue to click and drag the brush until you have selected the entire area. This method can be used to select any type of object. But unlike other selection methods where you are simply outlining the selection, with this method you paint every pixel that you want to select. And because you're using a brush to make the selection, you can partially select pixels by painting with a brush that uses less than 100% opacity.
The Selection Brush tool actually provides two different modes. With the default Selection mode, every pixel you paint becomes part of the selection. Any edits you make after painting your selection affect only the areas you painted. In this mode, the usual selection marquee marks the area that's selected.
The Mask mode works just the opposite way. If you select this mode, you paint a mask (a red overlay) over the areas of the image you do not want to edit. You can switch between Mask and Selection modes by simply changing the Mode option. If you switch from the Selection mode to the Mask mode, all selected pixels in the image become masked (appear in red).
Choose Selection Brush Tool
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, click the layer that contains the data you want to select. Select the Selection Brush tool on the Toolbox.
Although the process is similar, the mask you create here is not the same kind of mask you paint to protect lower layers from the effects of a fill or adjustment layer. It is also different from a clipping mask, which you can use to block parts of an upper layer from covering lower layers.
If you want to see the currently unselected areas of an image as a red overlay, you can switch to the Selection Brush's mask mode after making a selection with any other tool.
On the Options bar, select a brush tip and Size. A soft round brush works well in most cases. See 111 About Tool Options for more information about the available brush types.
By default, the Selection mode is selected in the Mode drop-down list. This means that everything you paint is treated as a selection. If you want, choose the Mask mode to paint areas you don't want selected. In this mode, unselected pixels are overlaid with the mask color fully; partially selected pixels are overlaid by the mask partially. Use Mask mode when you want more of a visual clue about what's included in your selection.
The mask overlay is usually red, but you can select a different mask color from the Overlay Color list. Typically, you select a color that will stand out against the image so that you can easily identify the masked area.
In the Hardness field, specify a value between 0% and 100% that indicates the hardness of the center of the brush tip. Typically, you will want to maintain a hardness value of 100 when painting a selection so that you can create crisp edges for the mask. By reducing the hardness value, the edges of the brush become softer, and pixels at the edge of your stroke become partially selected.
You can quickly increase the size of the brush incrementally by pushing the ] (right bracket) key. To decrease the brush size, press the [ (left bracket) key. For example, if the brush size is between 1 and 10 pixels, the size changes by one pixel each time you press either the [ or ] key. If the brush size is 10 to 100 pixels, the size changes in increments of 10 pixels. You can increase the size of the brush on-the-fly as you paint.
Paint the Selection
Paint over the area you want to select with short, quick strokes until you have selected all the desired area. Keep in mind that you are not just outlining the object in your image; you must paint the selection across the entire area you want to select or unselect, not just around the edge of the object.
Refine the Selection
To refine your selection, change to Mask mode by choosing that option from the Mode list on the Options bar. When working in Mask mode, remember that the goal is to paint the areas you do not want selected. Drag the brush over areas you want to exclude until your selection includes only what you want.
View the Result
Make changes to the area within the selection, copy or cut it to another image or layer, or delete the data. After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the PSD file. Resave the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want. In this example, I quickly selected the little boy and his mother and then refined the edge of the selection using Mask mode. After it was selected, it was easy to copy the data and paste it into a new image using File, New, Image From Clipboard. I added a pattern fill layer and a blue fill layer below to create the rough blue-jean-looking background. (See 93 Create a Layer Filled with a Color, Gradient, or Pattern.) I lowered the Opacity of the pattern layer so its pattern would display on top of the blue fill layer, and not completely obscure it. After I added some text, the final image becomes a lasting remembrance of a wonderful lady and her son. Look for this image in the Color Gallery.
You can create a straight-line selection by clicking at the desired starting location, holding down the Shift key, and then clicking the ending position.