70. About Making Selections
71 Make Areas of an Image Easier to Select
72 Select a Rectangular or Circular Area
73 Draw a Selection Freehand
74 Select a Straight-Edged Area
75 Select an Object by Tracing Its Edge
76 Select Areas of Similar Color
77 Paint a Selection
Selecting a portion of an image is the first basic step in nearly all the photo editing you do in PhotoShop Elements. By selecting the desired portion of the image first, you then can apply the desired edits to just the selection. Any portion of the image not included in the selection is unaffected by the commands you use on the selection. Nearly every edit command in PhotoShop Elements can be applied to a selection. Most commonly, selections are used to identify portions of an image you want to copy somewhere else, delete, rotate, resize, or move. But you also can perform tasks such as applying filters or effects to the selection.
When you select a portion of an image, a scrolling line, or selection marquee, appears around your selection. This visual aid enables you to quickly identify the portion of the image that is selected.
The selection marquee identifies the selected portion of the image.
You find the tools for making selections on the Toolbox on the left side of the screen. PhotoShop Elements provides four different types of selection tools, but each of these tools has additional options you can manipulate on the Options bar. For example, if you select the Marquee tool, you can use the Options bar to select between the Rectangular and Elliptical Marquee tools. You can use these marquee tools to draw a rectangular or circular selection on the image. See 72 Select a Rectangular or Circular Area for more information on using the marquee tools.
If you want to create an outline around a specific portion of the image, you can use the Lasso tools. PhotoShop Elements provides three different Lasso tools you can select from the Options bar. For example, you can use the Magnetic Lasso tool to follow the outline of an object, selecting that object perfectly. See 75 Select an Object by Tracing Its Edge. With the Lasso tool, you can draw a selection area of any shape; see 73 Draw a Selection Freehand. To draw a straight-edged selection such as a hexagon, use the Polygonal Lasso. See 74 Select a Straight-Edged Area.
If you want to select areas of the image that are the same color, you can use the Magic Wand tool. When you use this option, you click the desired color in the photo, such as a patch of green grass, and PhotoShop Elements selects all the areas in the photo that match the color you clicked. See 76 Select Areas of Similar Color for more information on making selections based on similar color.
The other method for making selections is to use the Selection Brush tool to paint your selection. When you use this tool, you create a selection using a paint brush tool. You can specify the width of the brush using the Options bar. See 73 Paint a Selection for more information on using the Selection Brush tool.
For all the selection tools but the Selection Brush, you have the option of what you want to happen if a selection already exists: You can create a new selection, add to or subtract from the existing selection, or have the existing selection reduced to the area where it intersects the next selection you draw. Buttons that control what happens to an existing selection appear on the Options bar, as shown here. Just click the button you want to use before creating another selection when one already exists in the image. By the way, you can modify a selection (by adding or subtracting from it, for example) using any combination of selection tools. So, always choose the best tool for what you want to select at the time, and don't be afraid to use several selection tools if it helps you select whatever you're after quickly.
These buttons control how a new selection will affect an existing one.
If you want to make edits to everything but the current selection in an image, you can invert the selection. When you invert a selection, everything that wasn't selected before is now selected. For example, if you select a portion in the center of the image, when you invert the selection, everything except the center of the image is now selected. When a selection is inverted, you'll typically see two selection marquees: one around the outer edge of the image and another around the originally selected portion. See 83 Select Everything But the Current Selection for more information on inverting a selection.
When you invert the selection, the previously unselected portions are selected.
When you apply a selection to an image, that selection remains until you unselect it. If you want to remove the marquee so that you can edit the entire image again, choose Select, Deselect to remove all selections from the image. To reselect the most recent selection, choose Select, Reselect.
In some instances, you might want to remove the marquee only temporarily so that you can view the entire image. If this is the case, you want to hide the marquee but maintain the selection. To hide the marquee, select View, Selection. Keep in mind that even though the marquee is not visible, it still is in effect. Any changes you make with the marquee hidden still apply only to the current selection.
If you copy or cut the data within a selection, the edges surrounding the pasted data can seem a little abrupt, especially if you paste the cropped image into another image. In some instances, you might want to create softer edges on your image so that the pixels around the edges of the selection can more easily blend with the existing pixels in the area to which you paste your data. You might also want to soften the edge of a selection to blend the change you make in that area with the unchanged portions of an image. You soften the edges of a selection through a process called feathering. When you feather the edges of the selection, you indicate the number of pixels from the edge that you want to use to soften the transition. For example, if you specify a feathering value of 5px, the edge of the image is softened using a 5-pixel border around the outside edge of the selection. For more information on feathering the edge of a selection, see 82 Soften the Edge of a Selection.
Feathering can help blend copied data with existing data in a new location.
You can modify an existing selection in many ways. Earlier, I mentioned the Options bar buttons that enable you to add to or subtract from an existing selection or to create a new selection using the area where two selections intersect. However, you can still modify a selection after it has been fully created. Using commands on the Selection, Modify submenu, you can expand a selection outward or shrink it inward by a certain amount. You can also add similar pixels to a selection, smooth out the jagged edge of a curved selection, or soften it with a nice feathered edge.
You'll even learn how to reposition the selection if you find that you've accidentally drawn it in the wrong spot on a layer. The details on how to do all these things and more are covered in upcoming tasks.
When desired, you can select the selection marquee (as it were), and even expand that selection by a bit, creating a border area. For example, you could create a circular selection. Then you could select the selection border and expand it by several pixels. You would then have a donut-shaped selection you could fill with color if you wanted. To do this, first, make a selection. Then choose Selection, Modify, Border. In the dialog box, enter the number of pixels you want to modify the selection by and click OK. On either side of the existing marquee, the selection is expanded by the amount you entered, creating a selection that's feathered on both sides. So, if you enter 5 for the border width, it's really 10, but pixels on either side of the original position of the marquee move from full selection in the center of the border to partial selection on the outer edges.