Making Selections with Selection Tools

Adobe Photoshop
Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor. But to unlock that power, there’s a few essential skills we need to have. One of them is knowing how to make selections. Without selections, we’d have no way to adjust or edit specific areas of an image. All we could do is adjust the entire image as a whole.

Thankfully, Photoshop gives us lots of selection tools to choose from, and each tool is designed for a specific task. Basic selection tools, like the Rectangular Marquee Tool and the Elliptical Marquee Tool, are perfect for selecting simple, geometic shapes. Want to draw freehand selections? The Lasso ToolPolygonal Lasso Tool and Magnetic Lasso Tool are what you need. The Magic Wand Tool and the Color Range command are great at selecting areas based on color.

The Quick Selection Tool lets us quickly select objects just by painting over them. Or spend a little time with Photoshop’s Pen Tool and you’ll be making surgically-precise selections around just about anything! We can even select just the areas of an image that are in focus using Photoshop’s new Focus Area command!

Once you’ve made your initial selection, it doesn’t stop there! As we learn in the Full Power of Basic Selections tutorial, Photoshop makes it easy to add more areas to a selection, remove parts of a selection, or even keep or remove only the part where two selections overlap!

The Free Transform command lets us scale, rotate, skew, and distort objects we’ve selected, while the little-known Transform Selection command lets us reshape and resize our selection outlines before we’ve actually selected anything!

There’s lots to learn when it comes to making selections in Photoshop. In this Learning Guide, we’ve rounded up all of our selection tools tutorials into one convenient place and organized them in the best way to learn, so you can gradually build up your selection making skills and get up to speed with Photoshop’s selection tools as quickly as possible!

01. Why Do We Need Selections?

There’s lots of ways to make selections in Photoshop, some simple, some advanced, but having lots of ways to do something doesn’t explain why we need to do it in the first place, so in this tutorial, we’ll look at why we need to make selections in Photoshop at all, and why Photoshop doesn’t see things like we do.

02. The Rectangular Marquee Tool

Being able to select objects or areas in a photo is one of the most important Photoshop skills you need, but not all selections need to be complex or time consuming. The Rectangular Marquee Tool, one of Photoshop’s basic selection tools, is perfect for making selections based on simple geometric shapes.

03. The Elliptical Marquee Tool

The Rectangular Marquee Tool may be one of the easiest Photoshop selection tools to use, but it isn’t much help to us when we need to draw oval or circular selections. That’s where the Elliptical Marquee Tool comes in. In fact, the Elliptical Marquee Tool is really just the Rectangular Marquee Tool with extremely rounded corners!

04. Unlock The Full Power Of Basic Selections

If all you’ve been doing with Photoshop’s basic selection tools is making a new selection every time, you’ve been missing out. In this tutorial, learn how to unlock their full potential by adding to, subtracting from, and intersecting selections!

05. The Lasso Tool In Photoshop

Photoshop’s Lasso Tool is probably the easiest of the selection tools to use, allowing us to draw freehand selections around objects in a photo as if we were outlining them on paper with a pen or pencil. We’ll also learn how to fix up problem areas and dramatically improve your results!

06. The Polygonal Lasso Tool In Photoshop

The Polygonal Lasso Tool, another of Photoshop’s geometry-based selection tools, allows us to easily select objects with straight, flat surfaces with just the click of a mouse!

07. The Magnetic Lasso Tool In Photoshop

The Magnetic Lasso Tool is one of the best selection tools in Photoshop, giving us much better results than what the standard Lasso Tool offers in less time and with less effort and frustration. In fact, with a little practice, you may find yourself hopelessly attracted to it!

08. Transforming Selections In Photoshop

Tired of drawing selections in the wrong size, shape or location you needed and trying again and again until you get it right? Learn how to fix the selection you’ve already made with Photoshop’s Transform Selection command, and create a fun picture-in-picture effect while you’re at it!

09. Feather Selections With Quick Mask

There are lots of times when we need to feather, or soften, our selection edges, but Photoshop’s Feather command gives us no way to preview what we’re doing. In this tutorial, learn a better way to feather selections using Quick Mask mode!

10. The Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand, one of the oldest and most basic selection tools in Photoshop, selects pixels in an image based on tone and color. Learn how it works and how a tool so simple can make replacing the sky in a photo quick and easy!

11. The Quick Selection Tool

If you’re using Photoshop CS3 or higher, you’ll definitely want to learn all about the Quick Selection Tool and how it lets us select objects in an image simply by painting over them!

12. The Color Range Command

When it comes to making color-based selections in an image, most Photoshop users turn to the Magic Wand Tool because it’s easy and it’s right there in the Tools panel. But if you dig a bit deeper, you’ll find the Color Range command, and in this tutorial, you’ll learn why it’s time to wave that Magic Wand goodbye!

13. Making Selections With The Pen Tool

Still using the Lasso Tool to select everything that isn’t a rectangle, square or circle? It’s time to take your selections to a whole new level! Learn how to outline objects with paths using the Pen Tool, and then how to easily convert those paths into professional quality selections!

14. Focus Area Selections

Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) has been updated with exciting new features for 2014! In this first tutorial, learn how Focus Area lets us make selections based on the in-focus areas of an image!

15. Improving Focus Area Selections With Refine Edge

In this second part of our tutorial on the new Focus Area selection tool in Photoshop CC 2014, learn how to improve and fine-tune your initial focus-based selections with Photoshop’s powerful Refine Edge command!

16. Free Transform Essential Skills

Our complete guide to learning the many ways of transforming objects and selections with Free Transform in Photoshop, from Scale and Rotate to Skew, Distort, Perspective, Warp, and more!

17. Selecting Hair with Refine Edge in Photoshop

Selecting hair in a photo was once strictly for the pros, but in this tutorial, learn how the improved and powerful Refine Edge command in Photoshop CS5 makes selecting hair easier than ever!