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Chapter 2. Selection Primer > What Is a Selection?

What Is a Selection?

When you want to edit a portion of your image, you must first select the area with which you want to work. People who paint cars for a living make “selections” very much like the ones used in Photoshop. If you've ever seen a car being painted, you know that painters carefully place masking tape and paper over the areas they don't want to paint (such as the windows, tires, door handles, and so on). That way, they can freely spray-paint the entire car, knowing that the taped areas are protected from “overspray.” At its most basic level, a selection in Photoshop works much the same way. Actually, it works much better, because with one selection, you have a choice—you can paint the car and leave the masked areas untouched, or you can paint the masked areas and leave the car untouched.

When you select an area by using one of Photoshop's selection tools (Marquee, Lasso, Magic Wand, and so on), the border of the selection looks a lot like marching ants. Once you've made a selection, you can move, copy, paint, or apply numerous special effects to the selected area (Figures 2.1 and 2.2).


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