PS: Magic Wand vs. Quick Selection Tool

As the story goes 90% of Photoshop is making selections.  Well I’m not sure they say that, but let’s go with it for now.  In this and the next couple of posts I’ll discuss the different ways to make selections in Photoshop.  This post discusses the features and benefits of using the Magic Wand and the Quick Selection Tool.  I’m using Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.

The Magic Wand and Quick Selection Tool are located 4th tool down in the tool bar. They are nested together because both tools are based on color and tone.

Magic Wand

The Magic Wand selects pixels based on tones and colors. Click on the area you want to select.  To add more to the selection hold down the shift key and continue clicking until you have a complete selection.  A complete selection is accomplished when you have those “marching ants” encompassing everything you want.

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Magic Wand Options Bar

Use the Magic Wand’s Options Bar to fine tune your selection.

  1. The default tolerance of 32 works fairly well. It chooses 16 colors lighter and 16 colors darker than your original click. By increasing the tolerance you increase the range of shades selected.
  2. Anti-aliased smoothes the edge transitions between what is selected and what is not.
  3. Contiguous means select the colors that are adjacent to each other.
  4. Use All Layers means act on all the layers in the document, not just the active layer.
  5. Sample Size indicates how large a sample the tool will use for calculations. Point Sample = 1 pixel. 3 x 3 = 9 pixel square; 5 x 5 = 25 pixel square

Quick Selection Tool

The Quick Selection Tool makes selections by recognizing edges. Quick Selection Tool works like a brush. Click and drag/paint over the area you want to select. To add to the selection hold down the shift key. To delete from the selection hold down the option key. The size of the brush can be adjusted using the left and right bracket keys on the keyboard.

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Quick Selection Tool Options Bar

Use the the Quick Selection Tool’s Options Bar to fine tune your selection.

  1. Select the brush size.
  2. Use All Layers means act on all the layers in the document, not just the active layer.
  3. Auto-Enhance option can produce smoother, higher quality selection edges.

The Select and Mask Option in the Options Bar was added in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.  It combines many selection features and can be used to further fine tune selections.  I will discuss it in a future post.  Choose the tool that best meets your needs.  Happy selecting!

 

Photoshop Levels Tool

As discussed in the prior post Show Me Your Histograms the tonal range of an image represents the amount of contrast in the image and is determined by the image’s distribution of pixels, ranging from darkest pixels on the far left (blacks) to the lightest pixels on the far right (whites).  One of the ways to adjust the contrast and make color corrections in your photo is the Photoshop Adjustment Tool Levels.

Disclaimer:  I am by no means a Photoshop guru, expert, teacher or anything of the sort.  I’m a lifelong student studying to understand the concepts that will make me a better photographer.  When in doubt Photoshop Help is the place to go.

Below is an picture of a little boy sitting on the narrow stoop next door to where I was staying in Santiago de Cuba. In this tutorial I will demonstrate how to I added a bit of contrast to the image below by using the Levels Adjustment tool.

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Before image:  Straight out of camera image is a bit flat.

Continue reading “Photoshop Levels Tool”

Show me your Histograms

I’ve struggled with the concept of histograms and the associated Photoshop tools, Levels and Curves for quite some time.  This and the next couple of posts will demystify these topics beginning with histograms.

Disclaimer:  I am by no means a Photoshop guru, expert, teacher or anything of the sort.  I’m a lifelong student studying to understand the concepts that will make me a better photographer.  When in doubt Photoshop Help is the place to go.

What is a histogram?   

A histogram is a bar graph that illustrates how pixels in an image are distributed by graphing the number of pixels at each tone and color intensity level.  The histogram graph looks like a mountain peak, or a series of peaks. The more of a particular tone/color, the taller the peak.

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Example of a Histogram.  X-axis represents number of pixels.  Y-axis represents range of tones.

Continue reading “Show me your Histograms”