Photo #3 - More Difficult to Select

As you can see, the person in this photo will be more difficult to select than previous ones. What makes it difficult? The dancer is set against a complex background of varying colors. In addition, she is composed of various hues and shades of color. This means that the Magic Wand Tool will have less success detecting color boundaries and we will have to spend more time with the manual selection tools.

If you have followed along with the easier photos, please don't give up now. This photo represents a large majority of snapshots and now is the time to learn additional selection techniques.

If you have not done so already, download the hula-dancer.jpg image and then continue with the steps below.

Make a Copy of the Original

Always make a copy of digital photo files before editing them so that the original is not lost.

  1. Start Photoshop Elements.
  2. Open the original image file.

    Commands:
    • File > Open
    • Locate the file to open on your computer (in this case hula-dancer.jpg) and select it by clicking on it once
    • Click the Open button

  3. Save a copy as a Photoshop (PSD) file.

    Commands:
    • File > Save As
    • Change the Format to Photoshop
    • Keep the suggested file name of hula-dancer.psd
    • Click Save

The above steps opened the original image file, saved a copy under a new name, and closed the original file. At this point the only open file on your screen should be the copy, named hula-dancer.psd.

Select the Object

  1. Zoom in close so that the hula dancer almost fills the screen.

    Command: Click the Zoom Tool Zoom Tool and drag a rectangle around the dancer

  2. Click the Magnetic Lasso Tool Magnetic Lasso Tool.

    This tool may be hidden by the Lasso Lasso Tool or the Polygonal Lasso Tool Polygonal Lasso Tool. Hold your mouse down on the visible tool to reveal menu of the other tools.

  3. On the top toolbar, configure the settings as follows:
    • Click the New selection mode button New selection
    • Set Feather to 0
    • Remove the checkmark from Anti-alias
    • Set Width to 10 px
    • Set Edge Contrast to 5%
    • Set Frequency to 20

    When working on other photos, experiment by changing the last three values to help the tool better detect edges.

  4. Using the Magnetic Lasso Tool to select the dancer's outline. The tool was missing the large toe on the right foot; forced a point by clicking.

    Using the Magnetic Lasso Tool to select the dancer's outline. The tool was missing the large toe on the right foot; forced a point by clicking.

  5. Select the dancer's outline with the Magnetic Lasso Tool.

    Commands:
    • Start by pointing your mouse at the edge of the object's outline
    • Click the left mouse button to start selecting
    • Move the mouse slowly around the edge of the object
    • To force a point off the automatic selection path, click the left mouse button
    • When finished selecting the entire object, double-click the left mouse button to close the selection between the first and last points

    Do your best to select only the person, but don't expect perfection. We will fine-tune the selection next.

  6. Zoomed in close on pompom to see selection detail.

    Zoomed in close on pompom to see selection detail.

  7. Zoom in very close on the right pompom with the Zoom Tool Zoom Tool.

    We can now see that the Magnetic Lasso Tool did a good job finding the edges. However, some of the sharp tips of the pompom are still unselected. We will use the Magic Wand Tool to fine-tune the selection.

    Since we selected the dancer manually, your selection will most likely be different than mine. In the remaining steps I walk you through fine-tuning my selection—follow along by applying the steps to the most similar scenarios of your own selection.

  8. Click the Magic Wand Tool Magic Wand Tool.
  9. On the top toolbar, configure the settings as follows:
    • Click the Add to selection mode button Add to selection
    • Set Tolerance to 70
    • Remove the checkmark from Anti-alias
    • Set the checkmark on Contiguous
    • v2 Remove the checkmark from Use All Layers
    • v3 & v4 Remove the checkmark from Sample All Layers

  10. Added missing pompom tips to selection using the Magic Wand Tool.

    Added missing pompom tips to selection using the Magic Wand Tool.

  11. Add the pompom tips and edges by clicking on the following:
    • Middle of thorn-shaped piece, coordinates X:855 Y:358
    • Tip of the same thorn-shaped piece, coordinates X:847 Y:349
    • Unselected edge of large piece near bottom, coordinates X:850 Y:403
    • Unselected tip of large piece near bottom, coordinates X:851 Y:418
    • All other unselected tips and edges around the right pompom

    Remember to use the Undo button if too much is selected and try a slightly different location or a smaller tolerance value.

  12. Make sure that the Magic Wand Tool Magic Wand Tool is still selected.
  13. On the top toolbar, configure the settings as follows:
    • Click the Subtract from selection mode button Subtract from selection
    • Set Tolerance to 70
    • Remove the checkmark from Anti-alias
    • Set the checkmark on Contiguous
    • v2 Remove the checkmark from Use All Layers
    • v3 & v4 Remove the checkmark from Sample All Layers

  14. Remove dark sections along pompom perimeter that should not be selected by clicking on them. I clicked on coordinates X:911 Y:314.
  15. Removed from the selection the background enclosed by elbow and hair.

    Removed from the selection the background enclosed by elbow and hair.

  16. Remove background from selection between right elbow and hair.

    Commands:
    • Make sure the Magic Wand Tool Magic Wand Tool is still selected and set as previous step
    • While still zoomed in, scroll the window so that you can see the right elbow
    • Click the mouse in the middle of the background enclosed by elbow, coordinates X:889 Y:549

  17. Using the Lasso Tool to add missing regions to the selection.

    Using the Lasso Tool to add missing regions to the selection.

  18. Add missing internal regions to the selection with the Lasso Tool, if necessary.

    Commands:
    • Click the Lasso Tool Lasso Tool

      This tool may be hidden by the Magnetic Lasso Magnetic Lasso Tool or the Polygonal Lasso Tool Polygonal Lasso Tool.

    • Set Feather to 0
    • Remove the checkmark from Anti-alias
    • Click the Add to selection mode button Add to selection
    • Hold down the left mouse button and draw a line around region to include
    • Release the mouse button to enclose selection between the first and last points

  19. Continue fine-tuning the selection by using all of the techniques you have learned. Keep the following in mind:
    • Use the best selection tool for each step. If you have been following along from the beginning, by now you should have a feel of what works where. If you are still uncertain, try one tool and Undo if it did not work as you expected, then try another.
    • Change the selection mode to add Add to selection or subtract Subtract from selection as required.
    • Set Feather to 0 on all selection tools that offer this option.

  20. After you are satisfied with your selection, feather it so that it blends smoothly with the image into which it will be inserted.

    Commands:
    • Select > Feather
    • Enter 3 into Feather Radius
    • Click OK

  21. Save the selection so that you can bring it up later—required for the exercises on the last page.

    Commands:
    • Select > Save selection
    • In the Name box enter person
    • Click OK

  22. Save your work.

    Command: File > Save

Having selected objects in all three photos, we are now ready to have some fun with them. Next page »