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How To Use The Quick Selection Tool

Learn how to make selections in Photoshop with the Quick Selection tool.

|  Adobe Photoshop
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In Photoshop there are various ways to make a selection and also various reasons why you'd want to make a selection. You may want to remove something from its background, replace a sky or simply apply an edit to one part of a shot but not the other. Some of the selection tools are better suited for certain tasks than others are, however what tool you use can also be down to personal taste. In this series of tutorials we'll give a brief overview of all the selection tools on offer, showing you what they can be used for and how to adjust them.

This is part three of our series where we'll be looking at the Quick Selection tool. You can read part one and two here:

Quick Selection tool

How it works

This tool makes selections by looking for areas that have a similar colour, tonal range and textures.

Quick Selection Tools

How to use it

Make a selectionLike a paintbrush, you use the Quick Selection tool by clicking your mouse and 'painting' or, in other words, dragging the cursor over the area you want to be selected. As you move your mouse, the selection automatically grows and surrounds the part of the photo you want to turn into a selection. You can also click on various parts of the shot, adding to the selection with each click but the first method tends to be the quickest.

As with the Paintbrush tool the brush is adjustable so you can make a smaller are larger tool depending on the area you are selecting. If you decide you need to change the size of the brush during the selection process you can use the left and right bracket keys to resize your tool.

Try not to select everything in a single drag as this can end up with objects you don't want selecting appear in your selection and if you go to undo it you lose all the selection you've just made. Whereas using smaller, short drags will mean you don't lose as much if you do undo your previous step.

Changing your selection

If you take your eyes to the option bar that sits near the top of your screen you'll see there are three icons which you can use to adjust your selection.
Selection Tools
From left to right you have the New Selection tool which, as the name suggestions, lets you create a new selection. Next is the Add To Selection tool which is automatically selected once you've began making your selection as the nature of the tool is to keep making selections until everything you want to be a selection is. Finally there's the Subtract From Selection tool which can remove parts of the selection you didn't mean to be selected. To do this just drag your cursor over the parts you don't want in the final selection.

Remove from the selection
In the first shot, the selection hasn't captured all of the hair so we had to adjust the selection using the Add To Selection tool and in places, also use the Subtract From Selection tool to select all of the hair and not the skin.

Other options available

Tick Sample All Layers option and the selection will be applied to all the layers that's in your document, untick it and the selection will just be applied to the layer you have selected.

Auto-Enhance makes the selection smoother but it can slow Photoshop down so untick this if you find your computer suddenly starts running at a snail's pace.

Finally there's Refine Edge which will give you a menu of options that you can further adjust your selection's boundary with. It also allows you to view the selection against various masks and backgrounds.

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