Art editor Luke O’Neill runs through how to make quick and easy selections within Photoshop.
The ability to perform simple cut-outs and masking tasks is a basic requirement of any designer and often forms the backbone of any Photoshop work that you may undertake.
Through this short tips-based tutorial, I’ll run through three basic techniques for creating simple selections and then cover the layer mask options and how they work a little more in depth. Once you’ve grasped the basics you’ll see how it opens up a whole new realm of creative possibilities within Photoshop.
01. Magic wand
The magic wand is the quickest and perhaps simplest way to meek simple selections within Photoshop. If you’re working with supplied product imagery then a lot of the time these will be supplied on a white background so the magic-wand tool is perfect for this job.
Simply navigate to the wand tool and then up the tolerance to 30 and click on the white area to make your selection. Now hit ‘shift + cmd+ i’ to invert the selection and hit the ‘Add layer mask’ button at the bottom of the layers panel to mask off the product from the background.
02. Pen tool and path selections
As you can see when we zoom into the bottom of the watch image, the shadows have not been masked off from the background. For more precise selections, there really is no better tool than the pen tool.
Simply select the pen tool and begin clicking, holding and drag gin to create paths and bezier curves until you’re satisfied, then simply click on the original point to close the path. Now navigate to the paths panel and holding ‘cmd’ click the path that you’ve just created and a selection will be made.
03. Colour range tool and layer masks
The colour range tool is particularly good for selecting large areas containing a similar tonal range. Simply navigate to the select menu and click to launch the ‘Colour Range’ Panel. Now hover over your image and you’ll notice an eye dropper appears. Simply click on the area you wish to make a selection of and you’ll notice that the image within the panel changes.
There’s the option to increase the intensity of the selection by using the ‘fuzziness’ slider. There are also a number of standard options to choose from the drop down menu such as mid tones, highlights, shadows, and skin tones.
04. Working with Layer Masks
Layer masks are one of the most useful tools to get your head around in Photoshop, and can be created from any selection as demonstrated in step 1. Once you have created your layer mask you can then edit but simply clicking on the lever mask icon which appears next to the layer in the layers panel. You can add or subtract areas of the layer mask by using black to subtract areas of the layer mask and white to add to the layers mask.
This can result in some pretty cool, effects which we’ll cover next, plus layer masks are non-destructive so all the layer information remains and the mask can be deleted at any time.
05. Easy layer mask effects
Once you’ve mastered the basics of selections and masks, it’s easy to create some cool effects such as the glossy shine on the phones in the above cover.
To create this effect simply make a selection of the phone once you’ve masked it off. Now on a new layer fill the selection with a colour or white. Then, with the pen tool, draw a curved path that we’ll then use to create layer mask that will give the impression of a hard sheen on the phone. Once you’ve masked off the sheen area you can alter the opacity to make it more subtle and use a big soft round brush to edit the layer mask.