Photoshop magic wand

by Design Workshop Sydney

Cutting things out in Photoshop is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult, depending mostly on the background colours. The Magic Wand tool is one the easiest tools to use – we show you how in our Adobe Photoshop coursesphotoshop-magic-wand
Making selections is the hardest thing to do in Photoshop, but once made, you can do virtually anything with the image. Among Photoshop’s nine selection tools, the Magic Wand tool is best used when the background is made up of the same or similar colours or tones, or if the object to cut out has a strong tonal outline, for example a logo, or the image of Gigantor shown here.
First select the Magic Wand tool from the Toolbox. Then you select the easiest area to select, whether it be the background or part of the image to be cut out. The pixels thus selected will be outlined with a flashing dashed line, also known as marching ants. How much of the area is selected will depend on the Tolerance value, the default of which is 32 pixels. This means that, as well as the one pixel tone you clicked on, 32 brighter tones and 32 darker tones will be selected. In the case of Gigantor we would click on the white area around his body.
You can also add to or subtract from a selection, either by clicking on the button on the top left of the Control panel, or by pressing down on Shift to add to a selection, or Alt (Mac: Option) to subtract from a selection. In our example here we would press Shift and click on the grey area outside the white selection. We would keep clicking until all of Gigantor’s background was selected. If we wanted to select less tones we could reduce the Tolerance value to 1 or 2 pixels.
In our case we don’t really want the background selected – we want the figure of the robot. Therefore we now go to the Select drop-down menu and choose Select > Inverse. We could tweak the selection further by clicking on the Refine Selection button to open the dialog box. In this way we can feather or smooth the selection, etc.
Gigantor is now ready to be copied and pasted onto a new layer. We could then trash the background layer, thus giving the image a transparent background. We then save the image as PNG or TIFF or PSD, in order to place into an editing program like Indesign or Dreamweaver.
Many more tips and techniques can be found at the Adobe website. And see many examples of our clients’ work on our Facebook page.
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