Photoshop Selection Tools

In order to use Photoshop really well, you need to have a good understanding of the various selection tools. These are the ones that allow us to choose an area of a photo to remove, change, or enhance. If you’ve done the Creature project, you’ve had some experience with the Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools. We’ll review those for people who haven’t done that project, and add some explanation and some new tools.

We’ll practice a few tools with a picture that you should have already. You may have been sent a picture of me for the Creature project, so check your Documents folder. If you don’t have it already, you can find it in the same place as the GWMS logos. You can get those HERE.

Or, you can always get the link from my Links page

Then click on GWMS logos

Once you’re in the folder, look for Project Pics

Then go into the Creature folder

Find the photo of this hideous creature. IMG_1705.JPG works the best:

Click Download, then Direct download

If you’re using Firefox (good choice!), you’ll have to choose to Save  the file

You can probably put this in Downloads

To open it in Photoshop, there are a couple of ways.

First, you could RIGHT CLICK on the photo and choose Open with, and then select Photoshop Elements:

You could also open Photoshop’s Photo Editor, then click the File menu, then Open.

Once you get the program open, you want to switch from Quick to Expert mode

Make sure your Layers panel is open (look at the bottom right of the window)

At this point, you’ve got only one layer (Background)

3 ways to do the next step:

Easy way: Ctrl + J


go into the Layer menu and choose Duplicate Layer…


Go into the Layer menu and hover over New, then click Layer via Copy

Now you’ll have two layers,  the Background and Layer 1

You’ll notice that the Background layer is locked, so you can’t do anything with it at all. Click the lock and it will unlock

Rename your layers. Background should become original

and Layer 1 should become copy

We’ll just leave that original alone in case we mess something up, so turn the visibility off by clicking the eyeball

Make sure that top layer (copy) is selected (it’ll be blue) so that we’re working with it.

We’re going to use the Quick Selection tool

Unlike the other assignment, this time we’ll draw on ME, NOT the wall around me to select it.

If you mess it up at all, press Ctrl + D to deselect and then try again.

Once you’ve got something selected, you are able to use the Move Tool to move that object somewhere else. Turn on the Move Tool (v)


Click on me anywhere inside the selection

And just slide it over to move!

You’ll notice that there’s now a hole in the original picture when you move the selection, though.

UNDO that move and put me back where I belong. (Ctrl + z)

Hopefully you still have me selected. Look for those Dancing Ants going around me.

We’ll look at a few fun ways of getting my ugly mug out of there.

The first thing that you could do is to fill that selection with a colour.

Go into the Edit menu and choose Fill Selection…

Fill it with the Foreground Color

The Foreground Color is the one that’s in the top box you see near the bottom left of your window:

Right now I have black on top, so if I fill it with that, I get something like this:

Undo that and we’ll try something else

This time, let’s fill the selection with the same colour as the wall.

Switch to the Color Picker Tool (I)

And click on the wall

You’ll notice that the foreground colour changes to be the colour of whatever pixel you clicked on

So we can try to remove me by filling the selection with that colour

Go into the Edit menu and choose Fill Selection…

Fill it with the Foreground Color

Now you’ve got this:

As much as it looks like one colour, the wall is actually a bunch of shades of grey, so this doesn’t look very natural at all.

Again, let’s Undo that Fill

This time, we’ll go to the Edit menu and choose Fill Selection…

And now choose Content-Aware. This is a cool tool that looks around your selection and tries to figure out what to fill it with.

This time, you get a much more natural looking fill

However, when you turn the selection off (Ctrl + D), you can still see the outline of me:

Let’s Undo again

This time, let’s select just a tiny bit more to get rid of that outline.

Go into the Select menu and choose Modify, then Expand

You don’t really have to expand it by much. 10 pixels should do:

Now try to fill the selection again

Make sure it’s Content-Aware

And that looks a lot better.

Undo (Ctrl + Z), Deselect (Ctrl + D) and let’s try something else.

Let’s spend some time with the Magic Wand Tool.

There are 4 options with this tool (and most selection tools), New, Add, Subtract, and that other one that I never ever use and can never remember the name of…

If you take the wand and click on the wall, it looks for areas of a similar colour. Again, the wall is not one shade of grey, so it doesn’t select everything. In this case, it doesn’t even select enough of the wall.

Deselect (Ctrl + Z)

The Tolerance setting kind of helps us to adjust how many shades of the colour the tool will select at once. Try moving the slider up just over 100.

Click on the wall again and you’ll see that it actually selects too much now. It’s grabbing my face as well.

Deselect (Ctrl + D)

and bump the Tolerance down a bit:

This time when we click on the wall, it selects just the wall and nothing else, which is perfect.

Deselect (Ctrl + D)

This time we’ll switch tools and select the Rectangular Marquee Tool

Click on the wall and drag out a box roughly the size of my big fat head

Make a new Layer Via Copy (Ctrl + J)

You’ll see that you now have a new layer with just a box of wall on it

Switch to the Move Tool

Grab this selection and move it. It’s like patching a hole in the wall with another section of wall.

Kind of cool, but not entirely useful because it’s the wrong shape.

Switch back to the Quick Selection Tool and just select my massive head:

Switch back to the Rectangular Selection Tool:

Click inside of the selection and move the Dancing Ants to a spot on the wall:

Again we’re going to make a New Layer Via Copy (Ctrl + J)

Again we’ve got a new layer

Again click on the selection and move it

This time try to put the patch over my head.

A great improvement!

Deselect (Ctrl + D) and you’ll see that it looks pretty good

Undo (Ctrl + Z)

Deselect (Ctrl + D)

This time we’ll switch to the Clone Stamp Tool

You might have to play with your brush size a bit here. I chose 100

What the Clone Stamp does is it copies an area from one location and paints it into a new one.

To use the tool, you have to set where you want to copy from. Put your cursor over my cheek

Press Alt and click to set the copy point.

Then go click and paint over another area (like my eye.) You’ll see that it’s copying whatever the little crosshairs (+) touches into the circle. In this case, I let the crosshairs go over my nose a bit, so it started drawing me a new nose.

Have some fun with that tool for sure. It takes some practice to get the hang of it because you have to paint with little strokes (just do a bit at a time) and you have to go and set your copy point over and over again (go to a new area and press Alt then click)

Undo (Ctrl + Z) as many times as you need to restore my face (or just leave it)

Ctrl + D to deselect

One more tool that’s pretty fun is the Content-Aware Move Tool

Make sure you’re on New or Add to selection

Draw a circle completely around me and then click and move it over

You’ll see that I’m magically moved over and the previous spot is patched at the same time! Cool, huh?

Play around and make sure that you have the hang of those tools. You’ll need a good grasp of them for the next assignment, which I’m not going to show you how to do…


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