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Magic Wand tool - a Photoshop Guide

Barry Beckham shows us how we can use Photoshop's Magic Wand tool more effectively when making selections.

| Adobe Photoshop

This tool will allow you to select consistently coloured areas such as a yellow poppy in a field of green without having to trace around the outline.

You can specify the tolerance or sensitivity of this tool and you will see that the default setting is set at 32. In Photoshop 6 the tolerance setting will appear at the top of the page as you click the tool as shown, but for Photoshop 5 users just double click the icon to bring up your options. The lower the value you enter will select colours similar to the pixels you select. A higher number will broaden the range.

Magic Wand tool - a Photoshop Guide

To use the tool simply click the coloured pixels you wish to Photoshop to select.

In the example below you can see how much of the red paintwork from the side of this loco is selected with a setting of 15 pixels.

Magic Wand tool - a Photoshop Guide

The tolerance needed to be raised to 50 before the entire panel was selected in one operation.

Magic Wand tool - a Photoshop Guide

Below we have shown the main options of the Magic Wand Tool, but the main setting you are likely to use for most of your work will be the Add a New Selection. So, rather than trying to learn all the options at once concentrate on just this one first.

Magic Wand tool - a Photoshop Guide

Tip. If your magic wand does not pick up all the colour you want in one go you can add to it by holding down the shift key. The other alternative is to select the Add to an Existing Selection icon as shown above.

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