Making good selections is one of the essential core skills for using Adobe Photoshop effectively. This is especially true for those projects that require more localized precision than what is possible in either Camera RAW or Lightroom. In this article I’ll cover some important concepts and techniques for making accurate selections.
Manual vs. Assisted Selection Methods
Selection tools in Photoshop are roughly divided into two categories: manual and assisted. Manual methods involve tools such as the rectangular and elliptical marquees, the Lasso, Polygonal Lasso and the Pen tool that require you to carefully guide the cursor to define the selection. For certain types of selections, such as precise paths made with the Pen tool however, this manual and more methodical approach is often justified.
Assisted selection tools use qualities in the image such as color, contrast and tonal values, to create selections. The selection tools that make use of color or tonal differences are the Magic Wand, the Quick Selection Tool, the Magnetic Lasso and the Freeform Pen Tool (this tool has a Magnetic checkbox in the Options bar).
In addition to the aforementioned tools, commands such as Color Range and creating selections or masks based on the red, green or blue channels are also ways that you can leverage the existing color and tonal content of the image to assist in the creation of precise selections.