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Making selections for painting
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Eddie Russell


Eddie Russell
In this lesson, we'll learn how to limit or target the pixels we paint on by making a selection. All right, so at this point, we've learned how we can actually select specific layers and target those layers here in the Layers panel. But as you're painting your digital images, you'll find occasionally the need to actually select specific pixels on a layer. Now, because of that, we have many different selection tools available to us here in Photoshop. And I'm going to demonstrate exactly how a few of those work for you. Now, if you come up here to the Tool panel, you'll notice this little dashed square. This is going to be our marquee tool set. And you can see here that there are several different types of marquees we can draw. We can draw rectangular, elliptical, single row and single column, just refer to a row of pixels and a column of pixels. So I'm just going to go ahead and demonstrate how to use the rectangle marquee tool here for you. So with this tool, all we need do is click and drag. And you see here that we drag out this selection. And it looks like the dashed outline for this selection is actually moving. Because of this, this actually received the nickname of marching ants. And if you ever hear somebody referring to it as that, you'll know exactly what they're talking about. So now that we have drawn out this rectangle, I've actually targeted just the pixels inside that selected area. So if I wanted to paint on those pixels, let me grab my Brush tool. I just come in here and paint. And you'll notice that the selection limits the area I can paint in. Now, with the Marquee tool selected here, we can actually reposition that selection anywhere we want to. But if we want to actually deselect it, we'll actually have to come up here to the Select drop down and choose the Deselect option here. Now, this is a keyboard shortcut that I highly recommend committing to memory. Control, D is much easier than bouncing up to that drop down menu. So let me go ahead and deselect that here. And you can see here we've painted on some of these pixels here. Now, let me come in here and just draw in another selection. I'll just drag in another rectangle here. Now, we can actually remove pixels from the selection as well. So if we drew our rectangle, say, too large, all we need to do is actually hold down the Alt key. And you can see a little minus sign will appear next to my cursor. And now, if I click and drag, we can draw a second rectangle which subtracts all the pixels where those two overlap. And to actually add pixels to the selection, we would just hold down the Shift key. Notice that again there is a plus sign now that appears next to my cursor. And if maybe we wanted to extend our selection in both directions like this, all we have to do is hold down the Shift key. Now, we also have the ability to invert a selection. You may have seen that up here under the Select drop down menu, Inverse. Now, that's another keyboard shortcut that I would recommend memorizing. It's Shift, Control, I. So now, if I hit that keyboard combination, you can see here that this selection looks like it's selecting all the area around that area that I had selected previously. So if I come in here now and paint, you can see exactly where my brush is affecting. So let me go ahead and deselect that here again. I'm just going to grab my Eraser tool and erase some of the stuff that I've been painting away here. So we've looked at the marquee tools. And again, most of the tools in this tool set are going to work in pretty much the same way. Now, the keyboard shortcut to access these is M. And if you want to get to one of the tools buried underneath that, again, it's Shift, M. So we can cycle through all the tools in that tool set here. Now, at this point, let me go ahead and bounce back over to our creature_layers file here. And I want to show you another tool. It's called the Lasso tool. This is a very versatile selection tool that allows us to draw a free form selection here. So let me just zoom in on this creature here. And maybe we want to select just his eye. Well, we can come in here and just draw in a selection for just the area of his eye, just like so. Now, the lasso tool is going to work very similar to the marquee tools in the fact that if we want to add to or remove from the selection, all we need do is either hold down the Shift key or the Alt key. You can see here that I removed some information from the selection. And if we wanted to add that back here, we'll just hold down the Shift key, and we've added that back to the selection here. Now, you may notice that I have a feather entry up here. As a matter of fact, we would have that up here with the marquee tools as well. And I actually have a value of 20 pixels input in there from another action that I was doing previously. So let me just show you what that does. Now, because I drew this selection with a 20-pixel feather, let me just grab my white foreground color here by hitting X. And then when I paint in here, you're going to notice that I get kind of a soft edge along the selection. This is a feathered edge, and it's there because of that 20-pixel feather value that I actually input in there. If I deselect that here, we can actually see we've actually kind of painted in this soft white edge. So let me go ahead and step back a couple times here. I'm going to step back once to bring back my selection. We'll step back to remove all that white paint that I dropped down here. And let me go ahead and deselect that. Now, the Lasso tool's keyboard shortcut's real easy to remember. It's simply L. So let me switch back to it and input a value of zero pixels. And I'm going to show you that there are a couple more lasso tools underneath here. There's the polygonal lasso tool, which allows us to click and add points to our selection. This is going to give us kind of a more polygon style selection. When we want to complete this selection, all we do is mouse back over where we started. And you can see I get a little circle next to the lasso tool. If I go ahead and click that at that point, it turns into the marching ants, and we have our polygonal selection. Now, with the regular Lasso tool, we can actually draw any selection we want to and release this anywhere we want to. But when we release this, the Lasso tool's going to take the quickest route back to the location we started the selection. So you can kind of see that flat edge there that was created. We'll just go ahead and deselect that as well. Now, the last lasso tool in there is a little different. The magnetic lasso tool, it's going to try and grab onto what it sees as edges in our image here. So let me just come in here. I'll just kind of click and start drawing here. And you can see the little points up here, right along the edge. So it's going to try and select just this specific shape that I'm drawing around here. Now, it sometimes works pretty well. Sometimes it could have worked better. But we'll just draw back and release it right there around the place where we started. Now, when you're using the magnetic lasso tool, again it's dropping these points. So if one of them or two of them appear where you don't want them, let's say right there, all we need to do is hit the Backspace key, and we can remove them one at a time all the way back to the beginning here. All right, so with that said, let me go ahead and Shift, L back to the normal lasso tool because I want to show you some other options we have for making and modifying a selection. So I'm going to come in here and just select his eye again, drawing a really rough selection around that eye. And let me come up here to the Select drop down. And let's notice that we have several different options here, but let's look under Modify. Now, there's a few here that are really helpful, namely the Expand and Contract options here. So we can choose Expand, and we get this expand selection. You can see here that we can expand our selection by a specific amount of pixels. So we want to expand that by 20 pixels. Just hit OK. You can see here how exactly that works. All right, great. So let me go ahead and deselect that here. Those are the lasso tools. Again, feel free to play with some of those. And again, also play with some of these ways that we can modify our selection here under the Select drop down. Now, there are a couple more tools here. We're not going to talk much about them, but they are intended for selecting bigger areas here within our document. Let's talk about the magic wand tool first here. So the magic wand tool is right over here. The keyboard shortcut is W. It's buried underneath the quick selection tool. Magic wand tool will allow you to select a range of pixels based on a tolerance setting here. So let me come in here and I'm going to tell you what let's do. Let's come in and select our background texture layer. We'll hide our creature here. And I'm going to try and select these blue areas here. Now, there's lots of different blues here mixed in with this black. So I want to come in and hit the magic wand in this area. And you can see what that selects with a tolerance of 70 applied to it. Now, if we were to come in, let me deselect that and change that tolerance to something very small, maybe five, and click in here. Notice that we're selecting a very small area. So the higher our tolerance, the more forgiveness the magic wand tool gives us when we're trying to select pixels. And let me just deselect that. The other tool underneath here is the quick selection tool. Again, the quick selection tool, I highly recommend using this auto-enhance feature, which will try and make your selections a lot more accurate. Let me just jump up here to our creature layer here. And let's see if we can't select the area around our creature. We'll just click and drag using the quick selection tool here. You can see that we're trying to select exactly the area around the perimeter of our creature. Now, both of these tools can be kind of finicky. And I would highly recommend experimenting with them a little bit. Now, with these tools, we also have the power of this refine edge button up here. We're not going to get into that in this course. Again, if you are interested in refining the edge of a selection, I highly recommend checking out our Introduction to Photoshop CS5 course. We go a lot deeper into selections, how we can modify them, and how we can also refine them. Now, there is one last method of selecting pixels on a layer that I want to show you. Now, this layer with the creature on it just has the creature. Remember, if we hide the background layer, we can see that the area around the creature, there is nothing painted on his layer here. So if we were to Control click on the thumbnail for this layer, we can select all pixels that have paint on them in that layer. So you can see by Control clicking, we select just the actual creature himself. Now, if we were trying to get to the point where we actually have the area around the creature selected and not the creature, all we would need to do is invert that selection with the Control, Shift, I. And we have that area selected now. All right, great. So again, in between lessons, I would encourage you, play around with selections some. And see how you like them. When you come back in the next lesson, we're going to pick up where we're leaving off here, and we're going to learn about masks.
In this collection of lessons we will learn basic terms, definitions and workflows for digital painting in Photoshop CS5. We’ll start off by covering how to create and save new documents as well as how we can navigate around inside them. We'll then take a look at two of the most basic tools for digital painting being the brush tool and eraser tool so you begin creating artwork right away. After that, you’ll learn about several other features such as layers, selections and masks that will add a new dimension to your digital painting experience. And to wrap up this project, we'll go over one possible workflow for painting a digital image.