Which Selection Tool to Use?

by Dick

Q: I can't find any explanation when to use one of the following tools versus the other,,,QUICK SELECTION, LASSO and MAGIC WAND. Certainly there are applications for these tools to be used for a specific task. I would appreciate an explanation as to what, why and where.

A: Good question Dick.

The Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools make selections based on the colors and tones of the image.

Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand tool works well for areas of solid color. For instance I would use the Magic Wand if I wanted to select an object that was on a completely white background.

I could click once with the Magic Wand to get a selection of the background and then go up to the Select menu and choose Inverse.

That would change my selection from the white background to everything except the background.

But a lot of times the Magic Wand tool is unpredictable and can be frustrating with the selection it gives you.

Quick Selection Tool

I prefer using the Quick Selection tool for making selections based on color and/or tones. It does a really good job of selecting colors and tones that you drag over it with.

And don't forget about the Selection Brush tool which is nested in the same spot in the Toolbox as the Quick Selection tool. To access it just click and hold down your mouse button over the Quick Selection tool until it appears.

Selection Brush Tool

The Selection Brush tool lets you paint your selection. So in general you would use the Magic Wand and Quick Selection tools when you have clearly defined colors or tones.

But if you have a hodgepodge of colors in an area that you want to select

you might find the Lasso tool works better.

Lasso Tool

The Lasso tool basically lets you trace around an object to select it.

And don't forget there are three different Lasso tools.

In addition to the regular Lasso there's also the Polygonal Lasso and the Magnetic Lasso tools.

You access them by clicking and holding your mouse over the Lasso tool until they appear.

The regular Lasso tool allows you to draw freehand selections by clicking and dragging with your mouse.

The Polygonal Lasso works by making a selection edge between two areas where you click with your mouse. So it works well for selecting objects with straight edges.

The Magnetic Lasso works best if the object you're selecting has a well defined edge.

You can just loosely follow the shape of your object and it snaps to the edges.

Ending Your Selection

With any of the three Lasso tools you need to end your selection where you started it. That means you select around your object and then make sure you go to the point where you started and move your mouse until it's over your starting point to close the selection.

You will know when you're over your starting point because your cursor will add a circle to your Lasso cursor.

Add Or Subtract To Your Selection

Be aware that it's very common that you will have to go back and fine-tune your initial selection.

Many beginners make the mistake of completely redoing their selection if it's not perfect.

Instead just add or subtract to your selection until you get exactly what you want.

You can do that by pressing down the Shift key to use your selection tool to add to your initial selection.

To subtract a part of your selection press down the Alt key on a PC or the Option key on a Mac.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of when to use which selection tool.

Good luck Dick,

Comments for Which Selection Tool to Use?

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Selection tool undestanding
by: Just little old me again

Thanks very much Rick a well thought out and explained answer.

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