All about selection tools in Photoshop

In this lesson we will look at all the possibilities of using the main selection tools of Photoshop, such as Region and Lasso. If you use them every time just to make a new selection, then you use only a small part of their capabilities.

We will look at how you can add a selection to an existing selection, how to exclude the area from the selection and even how to cross two selected areas and leave the common part selected.

Having learned all the features of the main selection tools, you will begin to use them with greater benefit for yourself.

Let’s begin by considering the possibility of adding a selection to an already selected area.

Adding a selection to an already selected area

For clarity, I will open a drawing of a rather simple geometric shape in Photoshop:

Simple geometric shape

I want to highlight the figure in the figure using the most commonly used Photoshop selection tool. “Rectangular area” (Rectangular Marquee Tool). To select a tool, I turn to the toolbar:

Select the “Rectangular area” selection tool on the toolbar.

I could also press a key M for quick tool selection.

Suppose that when working with this tool, I can only make a new selection. And how can I highlight this figure? Hmm … Let’s try! I’ll start by highlighting the bottom of the shape. It is quite simple:

Select the bottom of the shape using the Rectangular Area tool.

So, we did it – the lower part of the figure is highlighted. But at the same time, the square part of the upper right remained unselected, so I will now make another selection, this time the upper square. As I highlight a square, I will start from the upper left corner, hold down the key Shift to preserve the proportions of the square when selecting:

Select the top square part of the shape.

We did it – the upper part of the figure is highlighted. Wait a minute … And where did the former selection of the lower part of the figure go? It disappeared!

Yes, it’s gone. I lost the original selection at the moment when I began to make the second selection, and this is a property of all Photoshop selection tools. As soon as you start to make another new selection, the existing one disappears. This means that I cannot single out my entire figure. Alas, to single out complex shapes is beyond Photoshop’s possibilities … Thank you for being with us!

Speaking seriously, of course, there is a way to highlight our figure, although not in the way we did with you – not by alternately highlighting its parts. What we need to do is add a new selection to an already selected area. After studying this action, you will be surprised how you could work in Photoshop without it before.

Four basic settings for the selection tool

Before we go further after selecting the “Rectangular area” tool, let’s look at the tool settings area, namely, at four small icons in its left part:

Four main icons with settings for the selection tool

They may look a bit strange, but in fact each of these icons is important because it displays a specific setting for working with our selections. The first icon on the left that I selected in the image above is called “New selected area” (New Selection), and it was originally selected when working in Photoshop. Its purpose is to create a new selection every time. If you never knew about these four settings, you would always use the first default icon.

The second icon, located directly next to the first, is responsible for setting Add to Selected Area (Add To Selection). Just her we will study further.

The “Add to Selected Area” icon in the tool settings area

By selecting this setting, I will add any subsequent selection to the previous selection made by me. Let’s see how this setting will help us highlight our shape.

First of all, I will click on the icon “New selected area”, since I am going to select the lower part of the figure again, as I did at the beginning of the lesson:

Select the bottom of our figure again

Now the bottom of the shape is highlighted, and I’m going to click on the second icon Add to Selected Area, to highlight the whole figure. To quickly select an icon, I just press and hold the key. Shift before starting a new selection without referring to the settings area. As soon as you press the key Shift, you will see a small plus sign in the lower right corner of the cursor, which will mean choosing the second icon:

Hold down the Shift key to quickly navigate to the Add to Selected Area icon. A small plus sign appears in the lower right corner of the cursor.

Let’s try to select the upper square part again. Hold down Shift I’m going to make another square selection at the top of the shape. This time I will select not only the upper square part, but also a little lower rectangular part, so that the second selection partially coincides with the first:

Make the second selection so that it slightly overlaps the first

A quick note … you don’t have to hold the key all the time. Shift pressed until you make extra selections. All you have to do is press the key. Shift and click to start making a selection. As you begin to select the desired area, you can safely release the Shift key.

Now, after I made the second selection, which should be added to the first one, I will release the mouse button and see what happened:

The second selection is now added to the first.

Thanks to the setting Add to Selected Area, which I applied just by pressing Shift, my second selection was added to the first, and the figure, which at first seemed incredibly difficult to select, stood out entirely.

Let’s take a real-life example to see how useful the setting is. Add to Selected Area.

Use the “Add to Selection” setting to highlight eyes

One of the most frequently asked questions I hear is: “How do I select both eyes at once? I select one eye using the tool “Lasso”, but then, when I start to select the second eye, the selection around the first eye disappears. ” Let’s look at how this problem can be solved by setting Add to Selected Area. Here is a photo from which I will work:

Source image

I’m going to choose a tool “Lasso” (Lasso) on the toolbar:

Select the Lasso tool in the toolbar

I could also press a key to select a tool. L.

Choosing Lasso, I’m going to first select the left eye:

Select the left eye using the Lasso tool.

When using the usual tool settings “Lasso” after selection of the left eye (to us left, its right), if I began to select the right eye, the selection around the left eye would disappear. But not with the setting “Add to Selected Area »! I’m going to press the key again Shift To quickly select a parameter, see a small plus sign in the lower right corner of the cursor, and with the Shift key pressed, start selecting the second eye. I don’t need to hold the key all the time. Shift pressed. As soon as I start making the selection, I can let it go. So, I go further and highlight the second eye:

Select the other eye using the Add To Selected Area setting. It’s easy enough

And so we did it! Both eyes are now highlighted due to the setting. Add to Selected Area.

In the first case, when we used the setting Add to Selected Area to select the entire shape, I partially overlapped the selection to create one common selection. In the example with the eyes, my selections were cut off from each other, but, ultimately, Photoshop also combined them into one selection. I could separate the girl’s hair, eyebrows, lips and teeth separately from each other, and since I would use the setting each time Add to Selected Area, Photoshop would still consider them as one selection.

So, we have studied the setting Add to Selected Area. Let’s now focus on setting up. “Subtracting from the selected area”.

Before we learn how tuning works “Subtracting from the selected area” (Subtract From Selection), let’s consider where we find it. To do this, go back to the settings area and once again look at four small icons – setting “Subtracting from the selected area” third from left:

Settings icon “Subtract from the selected area” in the settings area

Now that we know where the setting is located, let’s look at how to apply it.

Sometimes when selecting a complex shape, it is much easier to select it entirely, and then exclude unnecessary parts. Let’s go back to our figure, with whom we worked at the beginning of the lesson:

In the first case, when I selected a shape, I selected its bottom first, and then used the setting Add to Selected Area for additional selection of the upper square part. This time, to show you how the “Subtract from the selected area” setting works, I’m going to first select the entire figure as a whole. I will use the tool again “Rectangular area”, and quickly make a rectangular selection for the whole shape:

Select the entire shape with the Rectangular Area tool.

It seemed to work out, except for one detail – when selecting the entire figure at a time, I also selected an empty area in the upper left corner. Thanks to the setting “Subtracting from the selected area”, I can easily eliminate this blunder.

Also as in the case of setting Add to Selected Area to select a setting “Subtracting from the selected area” no need to access the settings area each time. All you have to do is press and hold the key. Alt (Win) / Option (Mac), resulting in a small minus in the lower right corner of the mouse cursor, which will mean the choice of settings:

Press and hold the Alt / Option key to quickly select the “Subtract from selected area” setting

Using the tool “Rectangular area” and setting “Subtracting from the selected area”, I’m going to select an empty area in the left upper part and exclude it from the initial selection of the whole figure. Holding down the Alt / Option key, I will start by highlighting the upper left corner of the empty area, stepping away from the initial selection, and continue the selection right down until the entire empty area that I want to exclude is highlighted:

Select the area you want to exclude from the initial selection of the shape.

As well as when working with settings Add to Selected Area, you do not need to keep the Alt / Option key pressed all the time. All that is required of you is to press and hold the key until you start the selection with the mouse button. After that, you can safely release the Alt / Option key.

Now, after I selected the unnecessary area that I want to exclude, I just need to let go of the mouse button and please:

The empty area at the top of the shape has ceased to be in the original selection.

So, thanks to the setting “Subtracting from the selected area” the empty area in the upper part of the figure ceased to be in the initial selection, and only the figure itself remained selected.

Let’s end our introduction to the capabilities of the selection tools by examining the setting “Intersection with the selected area.”

Intersection with selected area setting

We looked at how to add a selection and how to exclude an unnecessary area from it. Now it was the turn to study the last setting. “Intersection with the selected area” (Intersect With Selection). To begin, let’s turn back to the settings area to find the setting. “Intersection with the selected area”, and then examine its application. Of the four small, but such important icons, the setting we need is the first one from the right edge:

Icon for the “Intersection with the selected area” setting in the settings area

As well as the previous settings, the setting “Intersection with the selected area” You can select it by clicking on the icon in the settings area or by pressing Shift + Alt (Win) / Shift + Option (Mac). So, we repeat the shortcut for selecting our settings:

Shift = “Add to selected area”

Alt (Win) / Option (Mac) = “Subtract from the selected area”

Shift + Alt (Win) / Shift + Option (Mac) = “Intersection with the selected area”

After determining how to select a setting “Intersection with the selected area”, let’s consider what she is responsible for. For this we need an image of a figure of this form:

This figure consists of two red crescents next to each other, with an empty white space between them. Imagine that we need to allocate this empty space. You can try to take the tool “Lasso”, provided you can draw perfectly even circles. You can use the tool “Magic wand” (Magic Wand) in this case, since the area we need to allocate is uniformly white, but what if it were not of the same color? What if it were a color photo and we would have to select a part of the figure? Tool “Magic wand” then it would hardly have helped us. So what to do?

To highlight round and oval shapes in the program there is a tool “Oval area” (Elliptical Marquee Tool). Let’s try to use it.

First, I will select this tool in the toolbar:

Select the tool “Oval area” on the toolbar

Then, selecting the tool “Oval area”, I’m going to make a round shape around the left crescent. As you select, I will hold down Shift to keep the circle shape:

Select the left crescent using the tool “Oval area”. To save the shape of a circle when selected, press Shift

Having selected the left part of the figure, I also selected the central white area, but my task is to select only the white space inside the figure. You can try to use the setting. Add to Selected Area and make another selection of the right crescent:

Select the right crescent using the setting “Add to the selected area”

Did not work out! All that we have achieved – we have allocated both crescents. Maybe make a selection of the right crescent using the setting “Subtracting from the selected area”:

Select the right crescent using the setting “Subtract from the selected area”

Again did not work! The setting “Subtracting from the selected area” helped me to get the selection only of the left crescent, but again this is not what I wanted. It’s time to use the setting. “Intersection with the selected area”.

Customization “Intersection with the selected area” works as follows: it compares the selection you have already made and the selection you are currently making and highlights only the area where the two selections intersect. It turns out, if I first selected the left crescent together with an empty area, and then I would make a round selection of the right crescent using the setting “Intersection with the selected area”, also including the empty space in the center, then, ultimately, there would be only a selection of the white area in the center of the figure – the place where the two selections intersect. But this is exactly what I need!

Let’s try to highlight the required area. Selecting the left crescent, I’m going with the tool “Oval area” make the second crescent on the right, so that the intersection of the discharge is white space in the center. At the same time, I press Shift + Alt (Win) / Shift + Option (Mac). If you look in the lower right corner of the mouse cursor (it is circled in red in the picture), you can see a small cross, signifying the choice of settings “Intersection with the selected area”:

Select the right crescent using the “Intersection with the selected area” setting

As with the previous settings, as soon as you start making selections, you can stop holding down the Shift and Alt / Option keys.

Using customization “Intersection with the selected area”, I also highlighted the right crescent. Now the two selections made intersect in the central white area, and that is what I ultimately want to highlight. All that is left for me to do is release the mouse button, and the program itself leaves only the white area in the center of the figure – the place where the selections intersect:

We easily selected the white area between the two crescents using the “Intersection with the selected area” setting

We completed the task. By setting “Intersection with the selected area” it was easy for us to isolate the white area between the two crescents.

So, we learned about all the features of the main selection tools Photoshop. Now we can not only make new selections, but also add selections to an already existing selection, exclude an unnecessary area from the selection made and leave only the place where several selections intersect. We have unleashed our full potential! We can embrace the whole world! The prospects are great! We … Good, good, I finish.

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