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Design

How to Incorporate Selection Tools Into Your Workflow in Adobe Photoshop

This post is part of a series called Digital Painting For Beginners.
Digital Painting 101: Using Texture Brushes in Adobe Photoshop
Paint Better Portraits With the Liquify Tool in Adobe Photoshop

We're covering the essentials in Digital Painting 101, a series dedicated to helping you improve your digital painting technique. In today's quick tip, learn about Selection Tools in Adobe Photoshop, and the many benefits of incorporating them into your workflow.

What Is a Selection?

A selection allows you to work within a specified area without making any changes outside that area. The border is defined by a blinking dashed line that can be applied in an array of shapes. 

Best Selection Tools for Digital Painting

The following Selection Tools will make your life a little easier. Take some time to try them out and get to know them better.

Rectangular Marquee Tool (M)

The Rectangular Marquee Tool allows you to make rectangular or square-shaped selections.

Elliptical Marquee Tool (M)

The Elliptical Marquee Tool allows you to make elliptical or circular-shaped selections.

Lasso Tool (L)

The Lasso Tool allows you to make freehand selections, allowing you to create the selection shape you want. Great for quick, loose selections.

Polygonal Lasso Tool (L)

The Polygonal Lasso Tool is great for drawing selections that have a straight edge. It also allows you to create the selection shape you desire, allowing for more control with your selections.

Magic Wand Tool (W)

The Magic Wand Tool selects parts of your painting with a similar range of colors. Great for quick selections and adjustments.

Pen Tool (P)

You can also use the Pen Tool to create fast and easy selections similarly to the Lasso Tools. Just use the Pen Tool (P) to create the selection shape you desire, then Right-click to Make a Selection.

Using Selection Tools for Digital Painting

Draw a portrait on paper with a pencil. Now redraw that same portrait with much bigger eyes.

... I can just feel the frustration brewing in your blood.

Painting in Photoshop allows you to make simple edits that aren't even imaginable with traditional art. By taking advantage of the right tools, you can save endless amounts of time and energy attempting perfection.

Here are some great ways you can incorporate Selection Tools into your digital painting workflow:

Select and Flip Details for Better Symmetry

Drawing a perfectly symmetrical face is hard. Make this process much easier by creating duplicates of the details you've already drawn. 

For instance, to create perfectly symmetrical eyes, simply make a selection with the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M), and then Copy and Paste the already drawn eye onto a new layer. Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal and now you've got a perfectly drawn right eye to match the left.

Flip Details for Better Symmetry

Scale, Rotate, or Warp Details

In collaboration with the Free Transform Tool (Control-T) you can scale, rotate, and even warp certain details faster than ever before. 

Scale and Rotate with Lasso Tools and Free Transform

Change Colors Quickly

Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool plus a quick adjustment layer like Hue/Saturation in order to quickly change colors to improve your overall color scheme.

Change Colors with Selection Tools

Selection Tool Exercise: Paint an Easy 3D Circle

Quickly develop light and shadow by taking advantage of painting within the selection border. Try out this quick exercise for yourself and learn this super efficient technique!

Step 1

Open a 600 x 400 pixel document in Adobe Photoshop. Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool (M) and create a perfect circle by holding down the Shift key.

Use the Marquee Tool to create a circle

Step 2

Select the Brush Tool (B). Adjust the Opacity to 30% and the Hardness to 50%. Use a large Standard Round Brush to paint a solid medium gray for the circle's color.

Fill the circle with a solid gray color

Step 3

With the circle still selected, hover the brush along the outside of the selection border and add more gray to gradually build shadow. Use the Eraser Tool (E) to erase away excess buildup until you've developed a nice 3D effect for your circle.

Add more shadow to the circle

Step 4

Now use a dark gray color to add a touch more shadow to the lower left side of the circle. Then grab the color white to add a nice bright spot to complete this simple 3D effect.

Add more shadow and highlights to complete the 3d effect

And that's it! Developing your overall lighting scheme just became a whole lot easier with this quick and easy selection technique!

Conclusion

Photoshop is packed with many tools that can make digital painting a breeze. Save yourself years of headache by simply utilizing what's in front of you. Learn how to paint more efficiently and you will see a dramatic transformation in all your digital art. Stay tuned for more Digital Painting 101 lessons where we'll continue to show you essential tips and tricks for painting confidently in Adobe Photoshop. Good luck!

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