~ ~ ~ ok, this is a long entry. Brace yourself! When you're done, you'll be SO SMART!!!! :) ~ ~ ~
Remember how I said I use the Move Tool the most when digital scrapbooking? Well, I use the Marquee Tool the second most.
The Marquee Tool is a Selection Tool. The Selection Tools are special because they don't really DO anything on their own, but they're essential for SO MUCH. Selection Tools allow you to choose an area of your image (or an area of a layer within an image) to alter or modify. The area selected can be deleted, filled with color, copied for pasting, dragged to a new image, lightened, color adjusted, on and on -- all with the help of other tools (well, or keyboard shortcuts.)
The selection tools also include the Lasso Tool and the Magic Wand, so I'll also touch on those in this entry to really round out your understanding of the Marquee Tool as a Selection Tool.
There's a lot to cover, so let's just start with a simple example for use of the Marquee Tool, using a picture I took of my best friend's daughter, Aowyn.
Let's say I want to create a colored box over part of my picture, so I can include some white text. Easy enough. (Screenshots of these steps are in the image to the right.) (1.) First, I open my image and make whatever color, balance, or brightness changes it needs. Then using my color picker, I select which color in the picture I want to use as a fill. This is the pink in the foreground box. (2.) Now I choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool and create a box over an area of the picture. (This is visible in the enlarged image.) (3.) With the selection in place, I hold down the keys "Alt" and "Delete" (just for a second, then let go), and only the area that was selected with the Marquee Tool is filled with the foreground color. (4.) Then I enter my text, and I'm done!
Now had I not selected just a part of the image, when I held down "Alt" and "Delete," the entire image would have been filled with pink. The Marquee Tool let me select just an AREA of the image to alter.
To use the Marquee Tool, click inside your image, drag to create a box, and then let go. This should give you a box with "marching ants" -- the dotted lines that look like they're moving. This lets you know the selection is active. If you're in a multi-layered document, you will need to make sure you have the correct layer selected before making changes. (This is easily done by clicking on that layer in the Layer's Palette, or selecting it first with the Move Tool by clicking on that layer in the image.) If you want a perfect square, hold down the "shift" key as you are making your selection with the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Once your selection is active, you can click within the box to move the selection box to another part of the image (or drag the selection box to another image) and it won't affect the image as long as you're still in the Marquee Tool, or you can use the keyboard arrow keys to nudge the selection box up and down, right or left. (If you try to move this selection box with the Move Tool selected, you'll be moving a part of the image.) One thing you CAN'T do is expand the selection box by pulling down on one of the corners like you can with the Crop Tool. Once you've made your selection, you have to start again to change it (or you can modify it with directions below.) When you are done with your selection, you should deselect the selection box before switching to another tool (because it will stay active until you deselect it.) To deselect, you have to still be in the Marquee Tool -- either right-click and choose "deselect," or click anywhere in the image outside the selection.
What I've told you so far is using the Rectangular Marquee Tool. Rectangular is the default Marquee Tool, but there are 3 others. The Elliptical Marquee Tool is what you use to make ovals and circles. This is every bit as useful as the Rectangular. The other two are Single Row Marquee Tool and Single Column Marquee Tool, but I've never used them and have yet to figure out their purpose. (If anyone knows, feel free to enlighten me!) To choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool, click on the Marquee Tool in the Toolbox and hold down until you see the pop-up box that shows the options in the picture to the right. Then select Elliptical.
With the Elliptical Marquee Tool, you can make perfect circles by holding down the "shift" key as you drag the mouse. The Elliptical Marquee Tool is especially handy for fixing red-eye, for rounding corners of an image, or for selecting a circle cut-out of patterned paper to drag onto your layout. (click on layout to see an example of using a circle of patterned paper.) Unfortunately there's no way to modify the shape or size of your circle or oval selection once you make it -- if it's not the right size for your selection, you just have to try again.
Once you have made your selection, there are ways to modify the selection itself. After you've made the selection, you can right-click anywhere within the image to get a pop-up menu of choices. "Select Inverse" is a very handy way to alter images. Say you have an image within a layout that you've decided almost fits, but needs some cropping. What do you do? Well, you could trim all four sides one by one with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (select the layer, then create a box just outside the image and use the arrow keys to nudge it into place, then hit "delete"), OR you could select the section you want to KEEP, right-click and "Select Inverse," then hit delete. Everything in that layer outside the selection box will disappear. (Well, everything within view of the screen. If a part of the layer is hanging over beyond the image space, that part doesn't get deleted this way.) Make sure you have the correct layer selected when doing this, or you may delete part of another layer instead (but remember: "Edit > Undo" is our friend.)
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The Tool Options Bar at the top of the screen when you are in the Marquee Tool also has some ways to alter your selection. Here is what it looks like:
Tool Options Bars differ for each tool that is active, but the first icon will always be the same -- it's the icon of the currently selected tool. If you click on the icon, you'll see a pop-up menu that lets you deal with that tool's presets. (At this point, you probably don't need to use this.)
The second section in all 3 Selection Tools' Tool Options Bars is the same: options for how your selections can work together. So this is a way you can combine the uses of the Marquee Tool, the Lasso Tool, and the Magic Wand Tool to make selections (I'll talk more about the Lasso and Magic Wand tools later in this entry.)
The first box is the preset -- a new selection each time. This is what you will normally use. However if there's a selection that is more complicated than just a simple box or circle, the next three come in very handy. I'll use a pink box to illustrate how each works.
The second box is "Add to Selection." With this option selected, each subsequent selection I make will become a selection IN ADDITION to the ones I already selected. Usually within the Marquee Tool you can just click once outside an active selection to deselect it -- not so with these 3 special options, because they assume each new click is to continue modifying your selection with a wholly new selection (which will interact with the initial selection, depending on which box is selected.) To deselect, you need to right click and choose "deselect" Here, the image shows two seperate squares I selected at the top (showing how the selections don't have to intersect), AND a combination of two squares, showing how the selections CAN intersect if you want them to. (The pink is the initial image, black is what was selected and then deleted.) (This second selection can be quickly accomplished with a keyboard shortcut: in regular mode if you want to add to your selection, hold down the "shift" key and make a second selection.)
The third box is "Subtract from Selection." This lets you make an initial selection, then deselect SOME parts while keeping most of it intact. In this example I made an initial selection of a rectangle, then my second selection was a rectangle that intersected with the first-- anything that overlapped was taken away from the selection. (This can also be quickly accomplished with a keyboard shortcut: in regular mode if you want to subtract from your selection, hold down the "alt" key and make a second selection.)
The fourth box is "Intersect with Selection." To show how this works, first I made a selection of a rectangle and a circle with "Add to Selection" chosen. Then this next example shows the exact same sequence of selections -- a rectangle, then a circle -- only this time instead of ADDING to the selection or SUBTRACTING from the selection, only the areas that were intersecting were selected.
It's important to note that when these options are used, the shift key trick to making perfect squares and circles doesn't always work, and you aren't able to reposition a selection once you make it -- because Photoshop thinks each click it to modify the selection by creating a second one.
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Rest your eyes.
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Ok, moving on.
The Marquee Tool's Tool Options Bar also gives you the option of designating a specific size or size ratio for your marquee selection to be. In the image below, notice "Style" box and its 3 options, highlighted with a red box.
(1.) The "Normal" setting lets you free-hand draw a shape to whatever size you feel like. (2.) The "Fixed Aspect Ratio" will let you designate a proportion to maintain, but you can make the box as large or as small as you like. (So if you want to see what a 5x7 crop of your picture will look like, it will let you free-hand the box but automatically keep it within a 5x7 proportion.) (3.) Choosing "Fixed Size" will give you a selection box of whatever dimensions you type in -- it doesn't allow you to DRAW the selection, or enlarge or reduce it. The dimensions you type in will predetermine the selection box that appears. NOTE: when you make a change to the Marquee Tool's "Style" option, it will remain the selected option during your Photoshop session. So the next time you use the Marquee Tool, you might have to change the Style back to "Normal" so you can continue with your project.
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Rest your eyes again.
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Ok, moving on.
The Lasso Tool and Magic Wand Tool are two other ways to make selections in Photoshop.
With the Lasso Tool (which can be selected by the keyboard shortcut "L"), you free-hand draw your selection area. For the regular Lasso Tool, you click once, drag the mouse to draw your selection, and when you let go the selection is active. (Not much room for error there!) If you haven't closed your selection (brought the end back around to where the beginning is), a line will automatically go straight from where you let to, to where you started. This tool is good for small areas that can be an approximate selection, rather than a precise one.
The other options in Lasso Tool are Polygonal Lasso and Magnetic Lasso.
With Magnetic Lasso, the line you are drawing automatically "snaps" to the edges of an area you're working in (which theoretically should make it EASIER to make a selection, but in spite of being able to set specifics within the Tool Options Bar, the program could choose to find an edge that you weren't going for and your perfect line wouldn't be so perfect. It might take some experimenting with this tool to make it work for you.)
Now the Polygonal Lasso is my favorite. It will only make straight-line selections, but you can still make selections on a curve by clicking on points close to each other as you go down the curve. I love the polygonal, because you select each point on your selection path you're drawing -- you can even hit the "delete" key to go back a point and not lose your entire selection! Once you close the path -- as a square or a random shape, or whatever, however the lines meet -- you'll get the dancing ants and that area is selected. (If you're trying to clean up an image to extract, you can work in small increments to guarantee precision, make a selection, and hit the "delete" key and the selected area disappears! This works best when you're VERY zoomed in. (Tip: once you start a polygonal lasso path, you can't switch tools -- you either have to unselect it or close the selection. Also, if you have the perfect selection made and then accidentally unselect it, you can hit "escape" OR go to "Edit > Undo" and that will take you a step back to when your selection was active.)
The Magic Wand Tool makes its selection decisions based on color. This is handy when an image has a solid colored background. It's especially handy for getting an image seperated from a white background. When you've selected the Magic Wand Tool, the Tool Options Bar has the different selections options I talked about above, and probably the most important otion is "Tolerance." Tolerance controls how many pixels of similar tones to the one you click on will be selected -- a low Tolerance number will select fewer pixels, a higher tolerance will select more.