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One of the basics of working in Photoshop is making selections. Photoshop, one of the best tools for graphic design, has several selection tools. This text will explain 9 basic tools, their application and use in making desired selections in Photoshop.

There is no universal tool for making a selection, but based on the need, content and image quality, various tools and their possibilities are combined in the program, for making appropriate selections.

Basic Photoshop selection tools

List of basic selection tools:


Marquee Tool

  • Rectangular Marquee Tool
  • Elliptical Marquee Tool
  • Single Row Marquee Tool
  • Single Column Marquee Tool



Lasso Tool

  • Lasso Tool
  • Polygonal Lasso Tool
  • Magnetic Lasso Tool



Quick Selection Tool

  • Quick Selection Tool
  • Magic Wand Tool


Marquee Tool 

Rectangular Marquee Tool is probably the most used selection tool. It is located at the top Tool Bar-a. For management and use Rectangular Marquee Tool i Elliptical Marquee Tool the same commands are used. The selection itself begins to be made from the upper left corner by dragging the mouse on the desktop. To create a regular square or circle, hold the command "SHIFT”When withdrawing a selection. When holding the command "OTHER”On keyboards selection begins to be made from the middle. Holding "SHIFT”-Ai“OTHER”The selection is made evenly from the middle and is of the correct shape.

There are several types of shortcuts, so to add a new selection to an existing one, hold the command "SHIFT" on the keyboard. A command is held to take away from the existing selection. "OTHER”On the keyboard when dragging with the mouse. In the top menu there are icons with options for making a new selection, adding a selection, subtracting a selection and cutting a selection. In order for the options to be applied, it is necessary to first click on the desired icon, and then make a selection. There is also an option "FEATHER”, Which in order to be applied needs to be activated before making a selection. It serves for a smooth transition between the edges and the middle of the selection.

The top options panel offers three selection options: Normal, Fixed ratio and Fixed style. 

Fixed ratio means that when you select a selection, it increases or decreases proportionally based on the given parameters in the fields width i height

Fixed style is the third option  where the size of the selection is already determined by the parameters entered in the fields width i height. So that with just one click of the mouse on the desktop, we get a pre-prepared selection.

Single Row Marquee Tool i Single Column Marquee Tool are selections that are used to select a single row of pixels. 

Single Row Marquee Tool is the selection for the vertical pixel order.

Single Column Marquee Tool for horizontal row of pixels. Additional options that are applicable for this type of selection are: making a selection, adding a selection, subtracting a selection and cutting the selection, as well as the option "Feather”-A.

Lasso Tool

The next group of tools we will explain is Lasso Tool. It contains 3 types of tools Lasso Tool, Polygonal Lasso Tool and Magnetic Lasso Tool.

Lasso tool is one of the first tools for making selections in Photoshop. It is used for making fast and incorrect selections.

Polygonal Lasso Tool is a simple selection tool in Photoshop, it works on the principle of making straight lines. This means that with this tool we can make selections without curved and winding lines. Selections with Lasso Tool -om, Polygonal Lasso Tool-om are closed automatically or by clicking on the beginning of the path by which the selection is made. These selections of options include: making a new selection, adding a selection, subtracting a selection and cutting the selection as well as the option "Feather”-A.

Magnetic Lasso Tool is a tool that recognizes the edges of the object around which the selection is made and attaches its path to those same edges of the object. With this tool, more accurate selections are made and there are more control options. In addition to the basic options (making a new selection, adding a selection, subtracting a selection, section selection and feather) it also contains Width, Contrast i Frequency.

Width represents the radius within which the selection cursor will recognize the edges of the object. To make it easier to understand what Width works and presents, it is necessary to press Caps lock on the keyboard, then the appearance of the cursor changes to a circle with a cross in the middle. The circle around the cursor represents Width. You will notice how the parameters are entered in the field Width increase, so the circle around the cursor increases and vice versa. This means that the larger the number entered Width the field is larger and the radius of edge recognition. With a smaller number entered in Width field, the radius will be smaller and more precise. It's definitely easier to work with Magnetic Lasso Tool tool if the radius Width bigger.

Contrast refers to the edges of the object around which the selection is made. This means how much difference in color or lighting an object or background must contain in order to be considered an edge. Maximum contrast can be used for black and white settings. But for "drowned" images where the edges can't be determined so clearly, less contrast is used, 

Frequency represents the number of points, ie. “Anchor point”. The higher the number entered in the field Frequency the selection that is made will contain more points, and the smaller the number entered in the field Frequency the selection will contain fewer points. Fewer points in the selection are used when it comes to simpler shapes, and more points for more complex objects. Anchor points we can add ourselves for better selection. When it happens that the selection path deviates from the edges of the object we want to select, we can easily return to the correct part of the path by deleting the points, that is. anchor points. Point ie. “anchor point”Is removed by pressing“Backspace”. The points that are deleted do not interrupt the selection process.

You have noticed that when working with selection tools there is an option "Anti-alias". Anti-alias represents the softness of the selection edges. When this option is checked, the edges are softer, and when it is not checked, the selection edges are harder. That is why this field is always left checked.

Quick Selection Tool 

Quick Selection Tool is the most common selection tool. Of the control options, there is a panel with “Presets”, It contains or can contain already equipped types and types of brushes with which the selection is made. It also has options for making new selections, adding selections, and subtracting selections. Adding is done with "Shift"Button that is held when you drag the cursor, and subtraction with"Alt”Button. In the upper panel with options, you can set the size, type, area and angle of the brush with which the selection is made. 

Sample All Layers the option when checked makes the selection applied to everything layers, and when the option Sample All Layers not checked selection can only be applied to layer-in which it is made.

Magic Wand Tool 

Magic Wand Tool is a tool that selects an area of ​​normal light and color. This means that it selects the same or similar pixels. In the top panel are the standard options (new selection, subtracting selection and adding selection).

Sample Size indicates how much sample area the tool will take to make the selection. 

Tolerance indicates the level of illumination, ie. indicates how many similar pixels the tool will take for selection. It changes as needed. It depends on the image and the surface we want to select.

Contiguous the field when checked selects similar pixels that are close to it and that touch. When this field is not checked, the tool will make a selection with similar pixels that do not touch.

All selections made with the presented tools can be additionally transformed, which means that they can be additionally edited. This is achieved by right-clicking on the selection made. Then a menu window appears offering various types of transformations.

There are several ways to make a selection in Ps. This text should help you be aware of the main methods of making selections and when and how you should consider their application. Knowing the right business tool is vital to making effective choices. Note that this text should not force you to choose one tool or one method over all others in all circumstances. Instead, you need to analyze each possibility and need individually and decide which tool combination will be closest to the result you want.

If you have learned something new and interesting in this text, read more educational texts we have prepared for you here: News & Stories

Made by Vladimir Bojic - Senior Graphic Designer @Digitizer