The Digital Darkroom
 Developed and Instructed by James Gordley 2004-2009
 All illustrations and graphics  done using Photoshop Elements.

The Tool Box

      The tool box is were we will find all of the tools that we will need to do just about anything at all with our image. If we care to we can create an image from scratch much in the same way a painter would use a blank canvas.

You use tools in the toolbox to select, edit, and view images; other tools let you paint, draw, and type. You can view information about any tool in the toolbox by positioning the pointer over it. The name of the tool appears below the pointer--this is called the tool tip.

You must select a tool in order to use it. The currently selected tool is highlighted in the toolbox. Some tools have additional tools beneath them--these are called hidden tools. When you see a small triangle at the lower right of the tool icon, you know that there are hidden tools.

 

You activate the hidden tools selection box by clicking on the small triangle or dog ear on the bottom right of the tool icon. The image above describes what you will see once you have activated the hidden tools selection box.

If the current tool has other tools associated with it, those tools will be shown on the tools option bar.

Now you know where your tools are but we still need to figure out what it is that each one of these tools do. For the next few hours we will explore the use of these tools.  We  we may skip around just a bit so if you get ahead of the rest of the class don't tune out or you might miss something important.

First we will need an image.

Exercise: [File>New>Image from Clipboard]

Right click on the image below, then select copy.

[Right click>Copy]

Photograph Crocus in Bloom (Saffron) by Jim Gordley Copyright 2006 all rights reserved.
Saffron in Bloom

Click the Editor - Photoshop Elements  tab on the task bar. When the program window opens click [File>New>Image from clipboard.]

The Selection Tools (Masking)

Rectangular and Elliptical marquee

see Figure TB-2


These marquee tools draw rectangular and elliptical selection borders. Think of these "marquees" as masking tape, a really good masking tape that sticks where you put it and doesn't leave sticky muck behind when you remove it, and it never ever leaks.

To use the marquee tools:
Select a marquee tool in the toolbar:

Rectangular marquee to make a rectangular selection.

Elliptical marquee to make an elliptical selection.

In the options bar, specify whether to create a new selection Create a new selection button, add to a selection Add to a selection button, subtract from a selection Subtract button, or select an area intersected by other selections Select an area intersected by other selections button.

To soften the selection border so that it blends into the area outside the selection, enter a Feather value in the options bar.


 

If you chose the elliptical marquee, you can select Anti-aliased in the options bar to smooth the edges of your selection.

In the options bar, choose an option from the Style pop-up menu:

Normal to visually set the size and proportions of the selection border.

 

When making a Normal selection, you can press the Shift key as you drag to constrain the selection to a square or circle.

 

Fixed Aspect Ratio to set a width-to-height ratio for the selection border. Enter values (decimal values can be used) for the aspect ratio. For example, to draw a marquee twice as wide as it is high, enter 2 for the width and 1 for the height.

Fixed Size to specify values for the marquee's height and width in inches, centimeters, or pixels. If you use pixel measurements, enter values in whole numbers, and keep in mind that the number of pixels in one inch depends on the resolution of the image.

Do one of the following:

To make a Normal or Fixed Aspect Ratio selection, drag over the area you want to select.

To make a Fixed Size selection, click in the image to set the upper left corner of the selection border.

By default, a selection border is created from one of its corners. To create a marquee from its center, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while making the selection.

To reposition a marquee tool selection while dragging to define the selected area, hold down the spacebar, and drag.

 

 

Exercise: Open an image file and use both the "Rectangular and Elliptical" Marquee tools to mask off portions of the image. Make use of the options bar to add to selection, subtract from selection, and finally intersected with selection.

While you have an area selected use your paint brush tool and add some paint to your image, note how the selected area will be the only area effected by the paint brush tool (or any other effect that you decide to apply).. Any area that has been selected can be manipulated in any way without effecting areas that are outside of the selection.

To inverse your selection click "Selection" on the menu bar then select "Inverse"

Move Tool

The move tool lets you drag a selection to a new location in the image. You can also use your arrow keys to move the selection around. If you don't have anything selected the entire layer will move.

For some really precise work you can open the Info Palette and keep track of the exact distance you are moving.

Like all of the tools there are options to choose from, to set those options:

Select the Move tool .

Select any of the following from the options bar:

Auto Select Layer to select the topmost layer that has pixels under the move tool, rather than the selected layer.

Show Bounding Box to display the bounding box around the selected item.

To move a selection:

Select the move tool .

Place your pointer  inside the selection border, then drag it to a new position. Everything that you have selected will tag along for the ride.

 

Lasso Tools

 

The lasso and polygonal lasso tools let you draw both straight-edged and freehand segments of a selection border. With the magnetic lasso tool, the selection border snaps to edges you drag over in the image.

The magnetic lasso tool is especially useful for masking parts of images with  edges set against a contrasting background.

To set options for the lasso tools:

Select a lasso tool in the toolbar.

In the options bar, specify whether to create a new selection Create a new selection button, add to an existing selection Add to a selection button, subtract from a selection Subtract button, or select an area intersected by other selections Select an area intersected by other selections button.


Options for the Lasso Tool

If desired, specify feather and anti-aliasing options.

Below you will find instructions on how to use each of these tools. With practice you will find that it is possible to select (or mask) almost any shape at all using them. Like any other tool that you use in life the more you use it the better you will get with it...what is that old saying? It isn't the tool, it's how you use it!

To use the lasso tool:

Select the lasso tool lasso tool , and select tool options in the options bar.

Drag to draw a freehand selection border.

To draw a straight-edged selection border, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click where segments should begin and end. You can switch between freehand and straight-edged segments.

To close the selection border, release the mouse button and Alt key (Windows) or Option key (Mac OS).

To use the polygonal lasso tool:

Select the polygonal lasso tool polygonal lasso tool , and select tool options in the options bar.

Click in the image to set the starting point.

Do one or more of the following:

To draw a straight segment, position the pointer where you want the first straight segment to end, and click. Continue clicking to set endpoints for subsequent segments.

To draw a freehand segment, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and drag. When finished, release Alt or Option and the mouse button.

To erase recently drawn straight segments, press the Delete key.

To close the selection border, do one of the following:

Position the pointer over the starting point (a closed circle appears next to the pointer), and click.

If the pointer is not over the starting point, double-click the pointer, or Ctrl-click (Windows) or Command-click (Mac OS).

To use the magnetic lasso tool:

Select the magnetic lasso tool Magnetic lasso tool, and then select tool options in the options bar:

NOTE: The Magnetic Lasso Tool has a few more options than the Lasso and Polygonal tools:


Options for the Magnetic Lasso Tool

To specify the area of edge detection, enter a pixel value between 1 and 40 for Width. The magnetic lasso detects edges only within the specified distance from the pointer.

To change the magnetic lasso cursor so that it indicates the area of edge detection (the Width value), press the Caps Lock key on the keyboard. Change the cursor while the tool is selected but not in use.

To specify the lasso's sensitivity to edges in the image, enter a value between 1% and 100% for Edge Contrast. A higher value detects only edges that contrast sharply with their surroundings; a lower value detects lower-contrast edges.

To specify the rate at which the lasso sets fastening points, enter a value between 0 and 100 for Frequency. A higher value anchors the selection border in place more quickly.

On an image with well-defined edges, try higher Width and Edge Contrast settings, and trace the border roughly. On an image with softer edges, try  lower Width and Edge Contrast settings, and trace the border more precisely.

If you are working with a stylus tablet, select or deselect the Pen Pressure option. When the option is selected, an increase in stylus pressure causes the width of the edge detection to decrease.

Click in the image to set the first fastening point. Fastening points anchor the selection border in place.

Drag the pointer along the edge you want to trace. (You can also drag with the mouse button depressed.)

As you move the pointer, the active segment snaps to the strongest edge in the image, based on the Width and Edge Contrast options. Periodically, the magnetic lasso tool adds fastening points to the selection border to anchor segments, using the rate set by the Frequency option.

If the border doesn't snap to the desired edge, click once to add a fastening point manually. Continue to trace the edge, and click to add fastening points as needed.

To switch temporarily to the other lasso tools, do one of the following:

To activate the lasso tool, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and drag with the mouse button depressed.

To activate the polygonal lasso tool, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and click.

To erase recently drawn segments and fastening points, press the Delete key until you've erased the fastening points for the desired segment.

To close the selection border, do one of the following:

To close the border manually, drag back over the starting point (a closed circle appears next to the pointer), and click.

To close the border with a freehand magnetic segment, double-click, press Enter or Return, or click anywhere outside the document window.

To close the border with a straight segment, hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS), and double-click.

Exercise: Copy the image below and place in the Your_Name/My Pictures directory on your computer. Open the file and use the Marquee Tools that we have talked about so far to select the largest balloon (the one on the right). Once you have a marquee around the balloon go to Edit on the Menu bar and select Copy.


MAC users hold the option key and click to copy this image.

Now the area that you had "selected" (masked) is ready to be pasted anywhere that you care to paste it. but first lets get rid of that marquee. On the Menu bar click on Select > Deselect.

There isn't that better no more marching ants running around on the screen.

On the Menu bar click Edit > Paste. Use the Move tool to place the new balloon any place on the image that you like.



Your image might look something like the one below...and yes I will know if you copied this one instead of the first one.

 


Use caution when working with hot air balloons, they can get away from you.


Example of placing a selection from one image into another image.

Magic Wand Tool
The magic wand tool selects area's of similar color, use this to select larger areas of an image instead of trying to outline or trace the areas with one of the other selection tools.

To use the magic wand tool:

Select the magic wand tool .

In the options bar, specify whether to create a new selection Create a new selection button, add to an existing selection Add to a selection button, subtract from a selection Subtract button, or select an area intersected by other selections Select an area intersected by other selections button.


Magic Wand Tool Options Bar

For Tolerance, enter a value between 0 to 255. A lower value will select colors very close in appearance to the pixel you clicked on. A larger Value will grab a larger tolerance broader range of colors.


Understanding Tolerance

To keep the edges smooth, click Anti-aliased. A checkmark appears in the box when this option is activated

Select Contiguous to select similar colors no matter where they are on that layer of the image. A checkmark appears in the box when this option is activated

Use the All Layers option to select colors from all  visible layers. A checkmark appears in the box when this option is activated.

In the image, click the color you want to select. If Contiguous is selected, all adjacent pixels within the tolerance range are selected.

To add to the selected area, you can Shift+click unselected areas, or choose Select > Grow.

Exercise: Copy the image below then open the file from your clipboard use the Magic wand tool to select different areas of the image. Use all of the different options from the options bar to see how your selection is altered from one setting to the next.

 

To "deselect" On the Menu Bar click Select > Deselect

 

Selection Brush Tool
Using the selection Brush Tool you can use different brush shapes to "paint" your selection (or mask)

To use the selection brush tool:

Select the selection brush tool in the toolbox.

In the options bar, choose a brush from the brush presets pop-up palette


Selection Tool Options Bar

To set the brush size, drag the Size pop-up slider, or enter a pixel value in the Size text box.  If your not sure of the size that you need highlight the Size place your brush back on your image and use the up and down arrows respectively to set your brush to the exact size you need.

From the Mode menu, choose one of the following:

Selection to drag over the area you want to select, and to display a selection border with moving dashes. If a selection already exists, this option adds to the selection. To remove from the selection, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while dragging.

Mask to drag over the area you want outside the selection, and to display a color overlay over that area. If a selection already exists, this option subtracts from the selection. To add to the selection, press Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac OS) while dragging.

To adjust the brush tip's hardness, drag the Hardness pop-up slider, or enter a number between 0 and 100.

If the Mode option is set to Mask, set the color and opacity of the overlay color:

To set the color, click the Overlay Color swatch and select a color in the Color Picker.

To set the opacity, drag the Overlay Opacity pop-up slider, or enter a percentage between 0 and 100 in the text box.

If you use a soft-edged brush with the selection brush tool, changing the Mode option to Mask can help you see the soft edges of the selection.

 

Crop Tool
Cropping is a way of composing your image after the fact, and you thought we would need to use fertilizer for a good crop.
To use the Crop Tool, select it from the Tool Box.


Options for the Crop Tool

Set the Width and Height on the options bar, or click and drag to select the area of the image you do not want to crop. The area to be cropped will be darkened. You can adjust the area by dragging handles on the top, bottom or sides. You can rotate the area by placing your cursor close to one of the corners it will change to

 

The crop tool will crop all layers not just the one you are working in.

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