In the last two weeks, DigiKnow has provided you with information on some basic features of Photoshop: Basic Editing (automatic colour fixing, crop and straightening) along with Colour, Cleaning and Layers.

Thus far, everything you do applies to the whole of the image or layer, rather than a part of the image or layer. In this weeks post, DigiKnow looks at selections, how to make them, how to define them and where they can be used.

Why use selections?

In MS Word, you select text with the intention of formatting it, i.e., changing the size of text, colour, font, moving / copying / deleting it, etc.

When making selections of image parts, you have an intention of changing something. This could be making a copy, changing the colour, the shape, the size, the location, etc.

Making a selection can be done with a number of selection tools.

Selection tools

The selection tools in the tool bar can be seen below:

Photoshop - Selection Tools
Photoshop – Selection Tools

These include:

  1. Marquee Tools (rectangular, elliptical, one column and one row)
  2. Lasso Tools (free-form, polygonal and magnetic)
  3. Quick selection / Magic Wand
  4. Crop
Making selections

Some selections tools are simply click and drag, i.e. the Rectangular / Elliptical Marquee Tools, Crop and free-form Lasso Tool (tools marked with a ). Other selections tools require a click or a series of clicks or are partially automated based on colour and/or contrast thresholds.

Many of the buttons have multiple tools:

Marquee Tools
Marquee Tools
Lasso Tools
Lasso Tools
Wand Tools
Wand Tools
Crop Tools
Crop Tools

Making selections is easy but making accurate selections to achieve your intentions takes more practice.

Making and defining selections

For this part of the blog, it is best demonstrated by video. Do turn on your speakers or wear earphones to hear. Feel free to stop and start the video as you need.

PS Tutorial – making and defining selections

The video has concentrated on the Marquee and Lasso tools as these are the most used selection tools. The Magic Wand tool is for selecting colour and the quick selection tool allows you to click and drag over an image, where the tool touches, gets selected and it takes some practice to master.

Cropping cuts off the edges of the image. When you make a crop selection, you intend to keep the area within the selection. Crops can be ratio based or height/width can be set in pixels or cm/inches. Do consider resolution and where the cropped image is to appear, i.e., print, web, etc.


This practical will allow you to gain experience of using and defining selection tools as well as creating, moving and editing layers. Turn on the Layer Palette. To do this, ensure the Layer palette is visible (Window | Layers or F7) and then click on the palette named layers as seen below.

PS - demonstrating the Layer Palette
PS – demonstrating the Layer Palette

For this practical, download the image from the above link and accurately select the subject using whichever selection tool(s) you see fit. When you have the subject selected, follow the instructions below:

  1. Edit | Copy the beetle (copying an item once puts it on the clip board and it can be pasted many times until the item is either overwritten or the computer restarted).
  2. Create a New Document, File | New, choose Print and A4 sized.
  3. Edit | Paste (paste in the beetle five times, look at the Layer palette).
  4. Using the Move Tool, click Layer 5 in the layer palette and move the subject to the top left of the page.
  5. Click Layer 4 and move the subject to the top right. Go to Edit | Transform | Flip Horizontal to make it face inwards.
  6. Click Layer 3 and move the subject to the bottom left.
  7. Click Layer 2 and move the subject to the bottom right. Go to Edit | Transform | Flip Horizontal to make it face inwards.
  8. Click Layer 1 but don’t move this. Resize this layer by going to Edit | Transform and Scale. Make it bigger by dragging the handles outward.
  9. Select Layer 2, go to Image | Adjustment | Hue & Saturation. Move the Hue Slider to recolour the subject.
  10. Click Layer 3, use Hue & Saturation to recolour the subject.
  11. Click Layer 4, recolour the subject.
  12. Click Layer 5, recolour the subject.

Note the change of colour of the wheel trims. You should have a similar result to the image below:

When saving work with additional layers, Photoshop will automatically save the file as a default PSD (Photoshop document). This file type will save the layers separately and these can be moved / changed when the PSD file is opened at a later date.

If you intend to share or print the content, save the work as a good qualtiy JPG (File | Save As) or other single layer file format (TIFF, JPG or PNG). More information regards file formats can be found in the DigiKnow blog Photoshop: Basic Editing.


In this weeks blog, if you completed the practical, you will have clicked on various selection tools and used the options bar to make and define selections around a subject.

Once a selection was made, it was copied and pasted it to a new document and then you proceeded to select and move layers, as well as select, resize / flip and recolour layers.

Getting familiar with this software and knowing to select layers is important to edit them. Selections allows you to localise editing, i.e., it applies to a part of the image instead of the complete image.

Over the last number of weeks, you have been following our series on image making and basic image editing in Photoshop. The editing skills are transferable to other editing packages. Have a look on YouTube for tutorials and to help build further Photoshop skills.

Next week

We will revisit image making and editing in the future. Don’t be afraid to refer to the DigiKnow blogs for anything we’ve already covered.

Next week, DigiKnow looks at how to plan your course and preparing for teaching online. There will be a number of posts to assist teachers over the coming weeks, so do join us for helpful information in this area.

Don’t forget to join us on twitter: @MDBSelearn.


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