TUTORIAL: Adobe Photoshop Quick Selection and Refine Tool

Adobe Photoshop. How to work with the Quick Selection Tool.

Step 1 Open Adobe Photoshop.

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When I work in Adobe Photoshop – I most always have the Layers Panel open and the Toolbar in double columns.

Open Layers Panel 

Window > Layers (to toggle the layers panel off and on). Or, use F7 for the same action.

Toolbar in double columns
To toggle between the single and double column toolbar click the two small arrows at the top of the Tools panel. While the icons remain the same size, the color palette picker is larger in the double column mode.

If Tools panel is not visual. Window > Tools.

Step 2  Open file in Adobe Photoshop.

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File > Open > Flower.jpeg

Step 3 Duplicate Photoshop Layer

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Notice the Layers Panel. There is now a thumbnail of the photo with the title Background. 

Training Photoshop Layer Eye IconTo the left of the thumbnail is the small “Eye Icon”. Clicking the eye icon will toggle the layer off or on – a very handy tool to have.

For every Adobe Photoshop project I work on I always do one simple step (prior to making any changes). I duplicate the original image and turn the original layer off. Having the original is a great backup resource and a reference.

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Duplicate Layer a Adobe Photoshop Layer. 

With the Layer Panel Open > Right Click Layer > Duplicate Layer > Give the New Layer a useful name. 

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Training Photoshop Layer Eye IconOnce your have two layers . Click the small eye icon to turn the original layer off. And work on the duplicated layer.

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NOTE: If you happen to turn all the Photoshop layers off – you will discover the checker board background. The checker board pattern in Adobe software is clever way to show transparency.

The checkerboard pattern does not print, none does it save what saving graphics for the web.

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To begin working – turn the layer icon to on. The layer content will reappear.

Save Often – don’t forget to save your work often, after each few steps. SAVE.

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Step 4 Using the Quick Selection Tool
The Quick Selection Tool is a very powerful tool. However, there are a few simple guidelines to follow when using the Quick Selection Tool.

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  1. Be Quick.
  2. Do not try to be too precise.
  3. Move quickly – yes move quickly.

What is very different with the Quick Selection Tool and the Magic Ward Tool?

  • Magic Ward uses color collections to make the selection.  Many designers use the Magic Ward tool to select large areas of the similar color – the background of an image.
  • Quick Selection Tool is less interested in the color palette of an object. The Quick Selection Tool is programmed to locate the edges of an object. Especially high-resolution digital images.

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The first thing to know about all digital photography is that objects within the photo have a fine white and black stroke around them. Sure, you have to zoom into the photography VERY close to see the fine strokes. The nicer the camera the finer these artifacts will be. This is the nature of digital and is the base of what the Quick Selection Tool is tracking.

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The other aspect of the Quick Selection Tool – is that this tool is QUICK. No slow motions – this is a fast tool. Yes the selections can be refined – but under good situations the Quick Selection Tool will locate the edge of objects  with ease.

The Quick Selection Tool will work on low resolution image. But, from my tests my require more refining to maintain a clean precise selection. In such cases when the resolution of the image is too low to create a precise selection, I use the Pen Tool to create the selection.

Step 5 Refine the selection.
The Refine Edge Tool  arrived in recent years. For many experienced Adobe Photoshop users the tool remains unnoticed and unused.

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Do not be fooled by the plainness of the Refine Edge button – the Refine Edge tool is a very powerful edge selection tool.

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Refine Edge Button and Settings 

With a selection active > Click the Refine Edge button.

NOTE: The Refine Edge button is only available when you  have a selection tool active.

Refine Edge – Viewing Modes. 

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The Refine Edge panel has a number of different views.  I tend to like the transparent view.

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However, when it is important that your selection is precise.  It can be helpful to view the object on either a white or black background.

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Refine Edge – Output Mode. 

Select how you would like Refine Edge to handle your output selection.

When I am certain that my selection is correct, I select the Layer Mask output option. Which results in the layer mask automatically removing the background.

Pros & Cons: When the selection is correct, the output to Layer Mask will save a step. However, if the selection is not correct and will require altering the mask or clean up – then the output to Layer Mask is not a good suggestion.

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When I am unsure that the Quick Selection Tool combined with the Refine Selection tool didn’t quite get the selection prefect – output to Selection is an awesome option.

The (marching ants) selection can be altered, and fine-tuned prior to creating the layer mask. Either output option works.

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Working with Photoshop Masks  

The beauty of creating Photoshop layer masks is that they are easy to change. With the layer panel open > click on the black & white mask icon.

NOTE: When the Layer Mask Icon is active, the color picker will change to Black and White. Using either a black or white brush, paint back or remove parts of your image.

 

 

 

 

 

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