Lucy Wheller-Parr

The select few.

“Can you remove the background” is something you should get used to hearing as a Graphic Designer. So make sure you know the best way to cut out in Photoshop.

There are many different ways to make a selection in Photoshop. No choice is wrong, just go for whatever you find easiest to use. Sometimes one method will work really well for one job and then not at all for the next. I’ll run through all the different tools, and highlight the ones that I like best.

Quick Mask: Quick Mask allows you to make a selection just by painting. To enter Quick Mask mode, just hit Q (or click the rectangle button on the bottom of the layers window). When the mask layer is selected, you will be able to use the paintbrush tool (hard edge works best) to select the desired area. I like to use masks to fade images into transparency, by using the gradient tool within the mask. The way this works is that anything black remains solid, and anything white disappears, so using a black to white gradient fades the image into nothing.

Marquee Tools: pretty straight forward, the marquee tools select a shape. The rectangle selects a rectangle, elliptical selects a circle, and the single row tools will select a pixel high/wide strip across the document. I don’t tend to use these much.

Lasso Tools: I am a big fan of the Polygon Lasso Tool. I find it the quickest and easiest way to select hard-edged objects. Straight lines segments are created when the cursor is clicked, which may sound limited but if you make the lines small enough it can produce a smooth curve. If you double click, the selection will close, which can sometimes be annoying but you can always add to the current selection by clicking the Add Selection button along the top of the page. The other Lasso Tools are the basic Lasso Tool and Magnetic Lasso Tool. The Lasso Tool works like a pencil, clicking and dragging to draw the selection. The Magnetic Lasso Tool ‘snaps’ to the defined edge of an object, which can speed up the selection process but can sometimes be inaccurate. To work around this, you can always press backspace to remove the last placed point.

‘Magic’ Tools: There is no cheating, only smarter working. The magic wand tool saves me a load of time when cutting out objects, and I use it a lot to remove the backgrounds from downloaded stock images. The Magic Wand can be found on the side toolbar, and it helps select large blocks of consistent colour, such as a white background. However, if the object you want to cut out is similar to the background, it may select this too. You can add to it by clicking the Add Selection button along the top of the page and then you are free to add more using the Magic Wand. I like to add/remove with the Quick Selection Tool, which can be found on the same drop down as the Magic Wand. This gives you a little more control when refining edges.

I’m an In-House Graphic Designer who likes branding, photography and Pantone 13–0647.