Photoshop I-1c Basic Tools and the Control Panel

By · January 18, 2010 · Print This Page Print This Page

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Composited crab and sand

Composited crab and sand

In the previous lesson, you learned how to do a number of image transformations using Photoshop menus and panels. Today you’ll see what the some of the most commonly-used Photoshop tools can do, and how to modify their impact using the Control panel.

This lesson is based on Adobe Photoshop CS4 Extended, but you should be able to follow along with earlier versions.

Learning Goals

In this lesson, you’ll begin to learn how to use these Photoshop tools:

  • Magic Wand tool
  • Lasso tool
  • Magnetic Lasso tool
  • Hand and Zoom tools
  • Move tool
  • Burn tool

Source Files

We’ll be combining a photo of a crab with a photo of sand. The crab is from Fort Bragg, California, and the sand is in Santa Monica, California. Click on each image to view and download the full-size photographs.

Crab

Crab


Sand

Sand

Using the Magic Wand Tool

  1. Open the large versions of the crab and the sand in Photoshop.
  2. Make sure the crab image is visible. If it is not, click on the document tab that says source-crab-lg.jpg.
Document Tab

Document Tab

  1. Select the Magic Wand tool from the Tools panel. It may be hidden in the fly-out menu of the Quick Selection tool (remember to click-and-hold on a tool icon to access its fly-out menu.)
Magic Wand tool

Magic Wand tool

  1. Verify the settings in the Control panel. Make sure that the New Selection button is active, that Tolerance is set to 30, and that the Contiguous check box is checked. Tolerance means how many colors will be selected that are similar to the color of the pixel you click on. Contiguous means that the selection will only include pixels that are neighboring—the selection will not jump over into non-contiguous areas.
Control panel for the Magic Wand tool

Control panel for the Magic Wand tool

  1. The Magic Wand tool selects flat areas of similar color all at once. Because the crab’s background is solid white, and the crab is very colorful, it will be easiest to select the background in the image. Start by click once with the Magic Wand in the white background. Most of the white background should be selected. The selected areas will have animated dashes around them. This moving outline is commonly referred to as “marching ants.”
Marching ants

Marching ants

  1. This selection is pretty good but leaves out some bits of white background. It also cuts into the crabs claw on the right a bit. We need to add to our existing selection. To do this, hold down the Shift key while you click with the Magic Wand in the white area between the crab’s body and his legs on the left. When you press Shift, it adds to the selection you already have.
Add to the selection

Add to the selection

  1. Now that we have the majority of the white background selected, we can invert the selection to that it wraps around our crab buddy instead. Go to Select > Inverse. Notice that there are no more marching ants around the edge of the image window—just around the crab himself.
Invert selection

Invert selection

Next: Using the Lasso Tool

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3 Comments

  1. Glad you’re back into it! I love your tutorials!

  2. I had learned most of this just by poking around Photoshop’s menu, but I always learn something I didn’t know before.

  3. I have to say this is the best tutorial I have used by far. I tried some of the video ones you can find on YOU TUBE and they just rush through asthough you know what your doing…I really appreciate the person responsible for this as it is an invaluable resource to people like myself who want to learn how to use CS4..Thanks

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