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Quick Masks

When you select a portion of your image, you see the flashing dotted lines—they're fondly known as marching ants to most Photoshop folks. But what are these ants really showing you? In a typical selection, the marching ants outline the boundary of pixels that are selected 50 percent or more. There are often loads of other pixels that are selected 49 percent or less that you can't see at all from the marching ants display. Very frustrating.

Tip

Hide the Marching Ants. The human eye is a marvelous thing. Scientists have shown us that one of the things the eye (and the optical cortex in the brain) is great at is detecting motion (probably developed through centuries of hunting and gathering in the forests). However, evolution sometimes works against us. In Photoshop, the motion of a selection's marching ants is so annoying and distracting that it can bring production to a halt.

Fortunately, you can hide those little ants by turning off Show Extras from the Select menu (or pressing Command-H). We do this constantly. In fact, we almost never apply a filter or do much of anything in Photoshop while the ants are marching.

The only problem is that you actually have to use your short-term memory to remember where the selection is on screen. With complex operations, you also have to remember that you have a selection—we've lost count of the number of times we've wondered why our filter or curve was having no visible effect on the image, only to remember belatedly that we had a 6-pixel area selected, usually one that currently wasn't visible.



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