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Best Selection tool Tips in Photoshop. Selections made easy.

Selection Secrets in Photoshop

This Photoshop tutorial shows you how to use selections to cut out or isolate things in Photoshop. The basic Marquee tools are very powerful if you know the keyboard modifiers and hidden menus. This tutorial will show you a number of tricks that you may not be aware of. Enjoy!

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We will start with this shape. Instead of using the magic wand etc, lets use the marquee tools already in Photoshop. These tools give nice clean edges, and they are quick when you understand how to use them.

selections in photoshop

Before we start, why don’t we get rid of the distortion on this photo. Don’t worry, we will keep a distorted version, so you can learn how to select that too.

Step 1.

Duplicate the photo layer by choosing it in the Layers panel and pressing Cmd/Ctrl+J

Choose Filter>Camera Raw

Click on the perspective button at the top left of the screen. Its the icon that looks like a grid.

elliptical marquee tool

Step 2.

Click the Full upright option

The distortion will now be gone.

Making circiular selection

We will now have a corrected version of the photo above the original. Lets get started,

combining selections in photoshop

Step 3.

Selecting the logo

Choose the elliptical marquee tool.

Drag to make a selection around the outer ring.

Here are some tips to help.

  • Holding down Spacebar allows you you move the entire selection
  • Hold Alt/Option to drag from the Center
  • Shift Constrains/unconstrains the shape depending on the version of Photoshop you are using

rectangular selection

Step 4.

Lets make an inner selection

Hold Down Alt/Option to remove from the selection (you will see a minus sign by the selection)

Make an inner ring selection

combination selection

Step 5.

Choose the rectangular selection tool. To add to the selection, hold down the Shift Key

Make the selection over the “theater” words.

marching ants selection

Step 6.

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy the selection to a new layer. You can see the shape was easily selected, using only 2 tools. Wait, there’s more.

cut out in photoshop

Step 7.

Let’s tackle something a little harder. Lets do the skewed image.

Make the outer ring selection with the elliptical marquee tool, as before.

perspective selection

Step 8.

Hold down Alt/Option and make the inner ring selection. Don’t forget to also use the spacebar to move the selection. Its a finger-dance, but you’ll get used to it.

oval selection

Step 9.

Ok, the rectangular tool isn’t going to work this time, what do we do?

Choose the Magnetic lasso tool.

Hold down Shift, to add to the selection. Click in the top left corner of the skewed rectangular shape.

As you move the cursor, notice the line follows your mouse, like gum stuck to a shoe.

selection in photoshop

Step 10.

Click the top right corner to anchor the 2nd point

Now move to the bottom right corner. If the line is only constraining to 45 degree angles, its because you are shill holding down Shift. It’s ok, you can let go of the shift key, Photoshop already knows you are adding to the selection.

Click the bottom right corner.

cutting out in photoshop

Step 11

Click on the left corner, bottom left.

Move the tool over the first corner where you started the selection. You will see a tiny “0′ which indicates the start point Click to complete your selection

YOu have now selected a more complex shape. But, the best id yet to come, read on…

selection is photoshop

Step 12.

Lets do a more complex shape.

“What? The wheel is complex? Its just an oval.” I hear you say.

Th challenge is that its an oval at an angle. You can’t do that with the elliptical marquee tool.  Or can you? Read on.

Make the basic elliptical selection.

selecting a wheel

Step 13.

Ok, time for the big reveal.

Choose Select>Transform Selection.

Now you can dra any of the 9 points to rotate and scale the selection. Isn’t that handy? And it works on any selection.

free transform

Step 14

Pro Tip: Holding down Cmd/Ctrl enables you to move the points independently, getting you the control you need for an oh, so perfect selection.

distorting a selection

Cutting out the wheel so you can see it.

cut out a wheel in photoshop

Step 15,

You can use the Filter>Blur Gallery>Spin to spin the wheel and put it in motion.

Pro Tip: Why did I select the rim and not the whole tire? (I know someone will ask). OK, stop and look at the result. Does it look like I needed to spin the tire? No, I didn’t, it looks fine as is. Selecting the rim was a lot easier than selecting the tire too and this yields a more realistic result because there is no sloppy selection on the tire. One thing I have learned doing this for a living for 20 years or so, is that it’s result that matters, and getting there as fast as possible. If you are doing this for a job, its about getting the job done right, as quickly as possible.

spin a wheel in photoshop

Thanks for checking out this week’s tutorial. Let me know if you like it in the comments.

Let your friends know about this tutorial and PhotoshopCAFE. Remember, Create.Don’t Steal.



Photoshop CC Selection Secrets

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selections and masks in Photoshop CC

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12 responses to “Best Selection tool Tips in Photoshop. Selections made easy.”

  1. Your tutorials are great, Colin! One thing that would help me a great deal is if you could provide “work along” images for the more complex tuts, Thanks for your great teaching!

  2. Colin, why not use the polygonal tool instead of the magnetic lasso tool? It does great straight lines without worrying that the magnet will latch onto a wrong spot.

  3. Hi Colin,
    I’ve use all the ones you did, but didn’t know about the Transform Selection tool! That is awesome! Can’t tell you how many times I could have used that and saved me some major time and head aches!


  4. I use Photoshop Elements but find many of your tutorials relevant, like this one – all but the Raw filter. Thank you so much.

  5. Great tutorial I learnt a lot. Did not know how versatile the selection tools are.
    Thanks for your tutorial.

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