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Chapter 4. Making Selections > Using the Selection Brush Tool

Using the Selection Brush Tool

The Selection Brush tool, new to Photoshop Elements 2.0, lets you brush over areas to make a selection. The brush options are very similar to the normal Brush tool, allowing you to choose from a wide range brush styles and sizes. So once you get familiar with either of these brush tools, you should feel pretty comfortable with the other.

The Selection Brush works a bit differently than the other selection tools. For one, when you are in Selection mode you can brush over any areas of your image to add to the selection. No need to click on an “Add to selection” icon, as these options aren’t even included in the Options bar. And unlike the other selection tools, the Selection Brush includes a Mask mode, which allows you to create a “protected” or unselected area. To make it easier to work with masked areas, you can control the opacity and color of the mask overlay. The two modes can also be used together with great results. You will often find it easiest to make your initial selection, and then change to Mask mode to make final adjustments to your selection.

To make a selection with the Selection Brush:

1.
From the toolbar, choose the Selection Brush (Figure 4.27).

Figure 4.27. The new Selection Brush tool is located on the toolbar.


2.
On the options bar, choose to be in Selection mode (Figure 4.28).

Figure 4.28. To make a selection, choose the Selection mode option.


3.
Choose a brush style (Figure 4.29) and then enter values for the brush size and hardness.

Figure 4.29. You can choose from a wide variety of pre-built brushes.


You can either enter specific values for the size and hardness, or just drag the slider (Figure 4.30) until you get the size you want.

Figure 4.30. The brush size can be set from the options bar.


4.
Drag the brush tool over your image to make a selection (Figure 4.31).

Figure 4.31. To make a selection, just “paint” over your image with the Selection brush.


To expand your original selection, just brush on the edge of the original area. To make a selection in another portion of your image, just move to that area and start brushing (Figure 4.32).

Figure 4.32. You can expand the selection slightly by brushing next to the existing selection edge, or you can select a whole new area.


To make a mask with the Selection Brush:

1.
From the toolbar, choose the Selection Brush.

2.
On the options bar, choose to be in Mask mode (Figure 4.33).

Figure 4.33. To make a mask, first select the Mask mode option.


3.
Choose a brush style and then enter values for the brush size and hardness.

4.
Set the overlay opacity with the slider, or enter a percentage in the text box (Figure 4.34).

Figure 4.34. The opacity of your mask overlay can be set with the slider or entered into the text box.


5.
Set the overlay color by clicking the Overlay Color box in the options bar, and then choose a color from the Color Picker (Figure 4.35).

Figure 4.35. The mask overlay color can be changed from the default (red) to any color with the Color Picker.


The default color is red, and if your selection area is also red it may be hard to see. Just choose a color that works for you.

6.
Drag the brush tool over your image to make a mask (Figure 4.36).

Figure 4.36. When you paint with the Mask option on, the area becomes filled with the mask overlay.


As soon as you select another tool, the mask overlay area changes to a selection border. The area is protected from any changes you apply to the image (Figure 4.37). Just as in Selection mode, you can paint over additional area in the Mask mode to expand the masked areas.

Figure 4.37. When you select another tool, the mask overlay changes appearance and becomes a selection area.


Tip

  • The mask overlay is a very handy tool for inspecting your selections, and can be used with any selection tool. Whenever you have an active selection, just click on the Selection Brush tool and select the Mask option to see the masked area. When you’re done viewing it in Mask mode, choose Selection from the pop-up menu.


To adjust a selection using a mask:

1.
From the toolbar, choose the Selection Brush, and make sure you’re are in Selection mode.

2.
Choose a brush style and enter values for the brush size and hardness.

3.
Drag the brush over a selection area, in order to establish a quick, rough selection (Figure 4.38).

Figure 4.38. You can use a large brush size to quickly rough out your original selection.


4.
Change to Mask mode to see the mask overlay (Figure 4.39).

Figure 4.39. When you change to Mask mode, the selection area becomes a mask.


5.
Fine-tune the edge of your mask, adjusting the brush size and hardness as necessary (Figure 4.40).

Figure 4.40. In Mask mode, it’s easy to see where the edge of your selection needs to be adjusted.


6.
To edit the masked area, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while using the Selection Brush. You can remove any “painted” areas by working back and forth with the brush in this manner (Figure 4.41).

Figure 4.41. You can toggle between mask editing modes pressing Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS). This allows you to quickly add to or remove the masked area.


7.
When you’re satisfied with the mask, choose the Selection mode on the options bar.

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