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    Selections, Selections, Selections! (Part 3)

    One thing you have to remember when dealing with selections is that they are not just for creating masks to draw inside. You need to select something before you can copy and paste it too. It is also possible to select something and then apply a filter to it. Once you have selected it the Photoshop filter will only work inside your selection.

    For example, I have selected the head of the duck once more. Now any effect I choose to use will only effect where I have selected.

    To prove this, go to the filters section and use one of its special effects. I'm going to use the glass filter, so go to: Filter > Distort > Glass..

    Bingo! Only the middle will be affected...



    If you've spent ten minutes doing a complex selection you may decide you want to save the darn thing before you loose it. Or perhaps you just use a selection so often that it would make life easier if you could load it when you needed. Well, Photoshop does let you save your selections. Just go to: Select > Save Selection...

    Up will pop this dialouge box. Just choose a nice name for your selection, I've chosen 'duck head'. Then press OK.

    When you want to reload your selection just go to: Select > Load Selection...

    A similar box will appear that lets you choose your saved selection from the Channel list. It also offers additional options such as add it to a selection you already have or subtract from it and so on. Play about with this and see how it works.

    TIP: If you are selecting many parts of a picture at the same time, then it is usually better to just copy and paste the parts you are editing onto seperate layers. A layer can act like a selection and this takes away the pain of loading and saving selections. I prefer never to save a selection if I possibly can, its easier to use layers. But this is not the place to worry about such things! For more details of this check out my section on layers.



    When copying and pasting selections there are a couple of brilliant options that allow you to control how well the pasted image blends onto the background its pasted over. These options are Anti-aliasing and Feathering. Lets see how they work.

    I'm gonna use the Polygon Lasso tool to select the eye of the duck.

    But before we select the eye, look up to the options for the Lasso selection tool; it has a check-box called Anti-aliased.

    As you know, computer screens are made up of thousands of square dots called pixels. Because of this cutting a picture and pasting it over something tends to give harsh jagged edges. When anti-aliased is switched on Photoshop will soften these jagged edges. The illustration below demonstrates this nicely:

    Not Anti-aliased

    You must set the option to anti-alias or not before you make your selection or it will not apply.



    Feathering is similar to anti-aliasing in that it softens the edges of a pasted image. Choose the lasso tool again and set the feather option to something like 5 pixels.

    The following illustration shows how the feathered image looks when pasted feathered and without.

    Feathered by five pixels

    Feathering can save a hell of a lot of time when it comes to adding objects to a photo to make it look like they were there originally. If we didn't have feather then we would have to go around the whole image by hand blurring it. As a general rule the larger the picture (the resolution) the higher the amount of feathering you will need. Small pictures like this duck picture blur heavily with only a five pixel feather. If the picture were twice the size you'd need a ten pixel feather to get the same effect.

    There are a few other customizable options to controling how selections select, such as exact sizes, keeping aspect ratio and so on, but I'll let you play with those yourself. Ready for the final chapter? Then go to Part 4



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