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Thread: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

  1. #1
    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    My first edit beyond the norm, and you can see I am having challenges... I tried to select the pelican, and then did an inverse selection and applied a Gaussian blur to the overblown sky trying to follow others recommendations in order to get the pelican and sky exposed properly or at least hide the noise in the sky... The blur also looks funny? And how exactly does one get in between the wing details with that selection tool... ?



    Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Thank you

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Care to post the original image prior to selection? Thanks.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    What you are trying to do is rather non-trivial. It looks like there is a bit of feathering where the sky and bird meet. You are trying to do a very precise selection here, and I would probably have used a tablet and pen tool to make the selection. I would have gotten right into the feathers and taken the white out.

    This is a 3 or 4 minute crack at it and there are some fairly obvious places I would normally clean up. Hair, feathers and fur are notoriously difficult to do because of the way light interacts with them. I did a selection with the pen tool, added a 0.5 pixel feather and rebuilt the background via a Gaussian blur and a solid fill using a sample. I added a tiny bit of noise to the background to make it look a bit more sky-like.

    Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements


    I agree with Jiro - we would need to see the original image.

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    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    What I normally do is to use any of the RGB channels and increase the contrast to have my base selection and then use the brush tool to paint black and white parts if I want to use Photoshop alone. I can use some plugins and I'm done in less than a minute if I want to. Manfred's work is very good.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Christina, thank you for posting this question as I am also having problems with selections or using brush tools where the boundary is not clearly defined. I don't have a pen and tablet so I'm hoping that is not a requirement.

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    Brownbear's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Here is the original.. Sorry, I did not think of posting it

    Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Honestly Christina --I rarely use the selection tool. I create another layer and erase out -1px size brush,zooming in --it is slow and arduous. It is the only way I've found to really get it right. Just put the headphones in and click away.

    I keep two or three copies of the erased layer. Then I can play with it as I like with different filters and levels. Combining it with the original till I get what I want --then merge the two.

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    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Hi, Christina;

    Pretty easy in Photoshop.

    1) Go to the "Channels" palette; look at each channel individually. Both the blue and the green channels have a very light background with a very dark pelican; so:

    2) Go to the "Image" menu and choose "Calculations" where the green channel is selected as the first source and the blue channel as the second. Choose the blending mode which gives the darkest pelican and the lightest sky (I chose Color Burn) and set the result for 'New Channel.'

    3) This output now appears in the Channels palette as "Alpha 1" (I renamed it 'Mask'). With just that channel selected, I cleaned it up a bit using a black brush set to 'Overlay' mode to turn the4 pelican completely black and a white brush (still in Overlay mode) to turn the sky completely white.

    4) With this channel selected, I clicked the "Load channel as selection" button at the bottom of the palette. Then I clicked back on the RGB main channel. Then I went back to the 'Layers' palette and duplicated the background layer.

    5) Finally, I clicked the 'Add Layer Mask' button for the new top layer; clicked on the layer mask and inverted it; then added a sky blue fill layer below and used the 'Render Clouds' filter to, well, put some clouds in!

    You can still always go back to the Channels palette at any time, select the Alpha 1 channel and click on the 'Load Channel As Selection' at any time, then invert the selection back and forth as you edit the pelican without changing the sky and edit the sky without changing the pelican!

    Here's my version with a new sky:

    Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    ...and you can find the TIFF image (in 8 bit) with the mask and Alpha channel (called Mask) here:

    http://originofwriting.com/CiC/Edited_DSC_0129.tif

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    John, are you working in PSE or the full Photoshop program?

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    John, are you working in PSE or the full Photoshop program?
    Hi, Gretchen;

    As I mentioned to Christina before (when she inquired as to what I had done in editing a photograph I posted that she liked), I have never owned a copy of Photoshop Elements and I don't actually know what is in it, and what it can and can't do.

    I use Photoshop CS 4 Extended for the most part; but the Adobe license only allows it to be loaded on two computers so this, my Internet computer, is running Photoshop CS 3. I started out with a 'student discount' version of Photoshop 7, but from the early-mid 1990's on I used a program called Aldus Photostyler that was giving Adobe a run for the money - until Adobe swallowed Aldus, replacing Photostyler with Photoshop and Pagemaker with InDesign.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Terri, it's nice to know that my questions are helpful to others.

    Thank you everyone. I've never heard of a pen and tablet so I'll look it up. I will try out the other very helpful detailed suggestions, too...

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Christina - I just noticed that you were asking about Elements. I used Elements 2 a bit and then switched to Photoshop CS in 2003; Elements was just too limiting for the work I was trying to do. The example I posted was done in CS6, but the tools were already available in much earlier versions.

    As for a pen and tablet; look at the Wacom site: http://www.wacom.com/

    A mouse uses hand and wrist action, whereas a pen and tablet are more like drawing with the Intuos3 for years (they are up to Intuos5 now) and the Bamboo line is their entry level tablet. Once you have used a tablet for Photoshop work, you will never understand how you managed to survive without one.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Thank you, Manfred. I have saved the link for when I'm able to purchase one.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Sorry, I missed that part of your post. I was intrigued by your explanation and immediately went into my Elements to look for the "channels" you mentioned. I couldn't find anything that would allow me to do what you described --although it may be there and I just haven't found it yet. It certainly sounds more exact than masking pixel by pixel.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Grumpy --I have to tell you that if I could use a pen/stylus I'd still be doing my art and not be delving into photo work. My hands won't hold a brush or pen for long periods of time anymore and my fine motor control is shot. So the mouse is a godsend for my creative brain!!!

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Quote Originally Posted by ggt View Post
    Grumpy --I have to tell you that if I could use a pen/stylus I'd still be doing my art and not be delving into photo work. My hands won't hold a brush or pen for long periods of time anymore and my fine motor control is shot. So the mouse is a godsend for my creative brain!!!
    Gretchen, it sounds like you are the exception, not the rule. When you have a condition that restricts you in the way you describe it, anything that works for you is great. Most people that have a normal range of movement are likely to benefit from a pen and tablet approach.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Well I have a confession to make. I've never owned a standard mouse! With my first computer (back in 1990), I decided to go with a (Logitech) trackball and I have always used one of those. I have a Wacom Bamboo tablet, and an HP 'penabled' laptop; but I really like the trackball concept (now I have a Logitech 'marble mouse'; same thing as a trackball but much less 'clunky' in design that the original).

    The nice thing about a trackball is you move the cursor around by rolling a little ball with your fingertips; so you don't have to have a lot of desk space, and you don't have to keep picking it up and putting it down to get full coverage on your screen. I started using one because (and this is the confession part) I had my computer set up so I could use it while lying in a hammock.

    Hey, I was living on the West Coast ;-)

    So, some people might find that option a happy median between a mouse and a pen/tablet set-up.

    My apologies to those who looked for a way to follow my Photoshop example using Elements; I had heard that Elements supports layers now, and that it does most of the things Photoshop can do; so I just assumed there would be a Channels palette, even if the "Calculations" option wasn't included.

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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Quote Originally Posted by John Morton View Post
    Pretty easy in Photoshop.
    John, do you have a favorite Adobe tutorial link that you use for applying channels in this way? I've never really gotten the 'channels' thing to click in my brain and this looks like it may be a very effective tool for addressing more than just masking.

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    John Morton's Avatar
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    Re: Is there a trick to using the selection tool in Photoshop Elements

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    John, do you have a favorite Adobe tutorial link that you use for applying channels in this way? I've never really gotten the 'channels' thing to click in my brain and this looks like it may be a very effective tool for addressing more than just masking.
    Hi, Frank;

    The 'Channels' palette is a very powerful feature and you can indeed use it for a lot of things.

    Back when I still shot film and digitized my 35mm images, I would check to see which channel had the worst grain (usually the blue one) so that my grain reduction strategies could be more effectively applied.

    One of my favorite tricks now is to convert my digital images into LAB space and edit the 'Luminance' channel as if it were a black and white image. Also in LAB, one can selectively sharpen that "L" channel without causing any color shifts or fringing.

    The technique I described is from Deke McClelland's "Photoshop CS4 Channels and Masks one-on-one" (I am a rabid consumer of Photoshop 'how to' books and magazines!) and Martin Evening describes similar techniques using the "Apply Image" command (which is a little less powerful than "Calculations"). Both of these authors point out that you can take a RGB image you are working on, duplicate it, and change the duplicate(s) into CMYK and/or LAB color space... which then gives you three RGB, three LAB, and four CMYK channels for a total of TEN different channels to work with!

    Generally, one can find the suitable channel(s) one needs to isolate most things in a photograph; or at least, get a really good start on that task and greatly reduce the amount of manual selection one needs to do. Photoshop supports up to 256 Alpha channels per image so you can save a multitude of different selections for an image, and load them as needed. And if the images are identical, there is no problem just dragging and dropping masks and channels from one image version into another one; so you can go wild on duplicate copies in different color spaces and when you get your final Alpha channel for a selection or mask finalized, you can drag and drop it onto the original version of the image and just go from there.

    The "Calculations" function in Photoshop is apparently one of the oldest legacy operations in the program, and was originally called "Channel Operations" or 'chops' for short. I'm not sure, but I think that might even pre-date the introduction of Layers, which are now used to do much of what early users designed their original 'chops' to accomplish.

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