Getting Started with Adobe Photoshop
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Using Tools from Photoshop's Toolbar

Now it's time to learn how to use some of the tools in the Photoshop toolbar.

Marquee Selection tools: The following tools allow you to select regions in your image to alter, copy, move, and apply filters.

  • rectangular marquee toolRectangular marquee tool: This is the default selection setting. You can make a selection of any rectangular size and shape.


  • elliptical marquee toolElliptical marquee tool: This tool, available when you click and hold down on the selection tool region of the tool bar, selects elliptical spaces. To select a round area, hold the shift key while clicking and dragging.


  • single row marquee toolSingle row: This tool will select a 1pixel region that is as wide as your image. Very useful for trimming edges and making straight lines.


  • single column marquee toolSingle column: The tool will select a 1pixel region that is as tall as your image. Also very useful for trimming edges and making straight lines.

A Note on Selection Modes (in the options bar):

marquee tool styles

  • Normal mode allows you to drag the cursor to create the selection size you want.
  • Constrained aspect ratio allows you to choose a scalable rectangle, say with a width to height ratio of 1 to 2. The selection will grow when you drag, but will remain the same shape.
  • Fixed Size/Fixed Aspect Ratio allows you to predetermine the size, in pixels or a ratio, of the selection you will make. When you click with fixed size selected, a selection box of the exact size you specified will automatically appear. With fixed aspect ratio, you can make different-sized selections of the same shape. This is a particularly helpful tool when cropping images to a certain size or drawing identical boxes.
move toolMove Tool
the move tool moves an entire layer at a time. When you have selected this tool, click on a layer in the layer pane, and then click and drag on the image. The current layer will move all at once. You can even move it outside of the current image size. Don't worry, though, parts of an image that move outside the borders still exist - they are just hidden. They will only be cropped out if you flatten the image.

Lasso tools
The lasso selection tools are similar to the marquee tools, except that the lasso tools give you ultimate freedom in terms of the shape of your selection. There are three different lasso tools:

  • lasso toolLasso tool, which allows you to draw a selection by dragging the cursor freehand. The selection will close itself.


  • polygon lasso toolPolygon Lasso tool, which creates a selection composed of straight lines that can be as short as one pixel. The selection grows with each additional click. This tool is especially useful for cutting out objects in an image to place on new backgrounds.


  • magnetic polygon lasso toolMagnetic Polygon Lasso tool works a little like a combination of the other two lasso tool. As you drag, the selection maps to natural borders in the image. This is a useful tool when dealing with well-defined and high-contrast images.

    A note about lasso tool options: When extracting part of an image from its background, the result will be choppy and rough around the edges unless you adjust the feather value in the options bar. This fades the edges you create and can smooth the region into its new background.

magic wand toolMagic Wand Tool
The magic wand tool is similar to the magnetic polygon lasso tool except that rather than dragging to make a selection, you click in a region and a selection appears around similar colored pixels. You can control how similar pixels must be to be included in the selection by altering the tolerance value.
This tool is useful for selecting monochromatic regions or pieces of high-contrast images.

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© 2003 Patrick Williams| iSchool | UT Austin | webmaster