Photoshop Selections: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

– All right, let’s start at the beginning here and explore some of the more basic Photoshop selection techniques. One of the easiest is the ability to select everything which is often important. In this case, from Photoshop I’ll choose File, Browse in Bridge. And I’m going to navigate to the exercise file folder and open up folder two. Here we have a couple of options. Let’s open all three of these files up.

The end result is going to look like this. One where the water is being overlaid on top. Additionally there’s a few exposure changes, and some other changes that apply to the image but we can do the basics first. Let’s start by grabbing the water. I’ll choose Select, All and then Edit, Copy, this puts all the pixels onto my clipboard.

Now if I switch to another document, I can choose an option like Edit, Paste, and you see it comes in. Using my move tool, I could reposition where this is except the water is not necessarily where I want it. So if I press Command or Control + T, this gives me the ability to rotate an object, or position it and scale it how I’d like. I’ll just zoom out a little bit there and place the splash in a place that I like it.

That works quite well. Now what happens is I’m going to zoom in a little and I want to blend this from top to bottom. By adding a layer mask, you see an empty layer mask is applied. Now grab the gradient tool and use a default gradient. I’ll just reset this and you should see Black to White. Now quite easily, if we have the mask selected, I can use a gradient to create a gradual selection from top to bottom.

Let’s undo and use the linear gradient here and you see that it will blend the image, creating this nice ramping effect where the water is blending in with the subject. Now speaking of blending, let’s just select the layer and choose a mode like Screen or Lighten. And you’ll notice that in this case, these different options drop out the darker areas and create this really cool overlay effect where the water looks to be added to the scene.

Now this works pretty nicely, remember, some of the techniques you already learned, we can also choose something like the background and just say, Select, Color Range. I’m going to choose the bird here by setting it to Sampled Colors. Let’s uncheck Localized and we can just adjust the fuzziness. There we go, that’s nice.

Perfect. Click OK, and we’ve got a new selection. Now I’ll choose Select, Inverse, and it reverses the selection. This makes it easy to apply an adjustment like curves and what you’ll notice is that now the adjustment is being applied around the bird but not to its body. Sometimes it’s easier to select what you don’t want, in this case, selecting the bird.

it reverses the selection giving us far greater control. If I say something like Select, Color Range, and target the greens, this makes it easy to target other areas. Now adding a vibrance adjustment, I can refine that a little and pull it down. If it’s not aggressive enough, just throw it away, and try Select, Color Range.

Set it to Sampled Colors and just click, there we go. Adjust the fuzziness, click OK, and it adjusts. Now on this case, notice what happened, it changed the mask for the layer that was active. I didn’t actually want that so I’ll choose Undo and it goes back. When making a selection, it’s important that you have the relevant layer active. Now let’s go ahead and select the layer I want and choose Select, Color Range.

I can click on an area that I want, hold down the Shift key if needed, and adjust the fuzziness. When I’m ready, I’ll click OK. Now if I add another adjustment, you’ll see that I can tone down those greens back there or make them pop. In this case, toning them down is far better. Plus if needed, you can always select the layer and choose Select, Reselect and it loads it again.

Now let’s add an exposure adjustment and just darken down those areas so that green background is not as distracting. And you see that the focus has been drawn to our subject. Selections really aren’t hard 1 whether you want to select everything 1 with the Select, All command, 1 reselect something you were working with 1 or inverse it to go the other direction. 1 By taking the time to use these tools 1 in the Select menu to modify what it is you’re doing, 1 it’s very easy to add targeted adjustments. 1 and the color for some distracting objects, 1 applied a curves adjustment to darken down things 1 and added a layer using blend modes and a ramp 1 to create the effect of splashing water 1 being overlaid on our subject.

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