Master your photo editor's selection tools

People accuse me of occasionally giving accurate but useless answers to their questions. Ask me why the sky is blue, and I'm likely to say "Rayleigh scattering."

That sort of thing happened recently when a friend, obviously annoyed with his image editing program, asked me why there were so many different selection tools to choose from. "Because making selections is such an important capability!" I immediately replied. Afterwards, I tutored him with some real-world examples of how the various selection tools can be used. This week I'll share them with you.

Choose how much help you want

When you need to make a selection within a digital photo, the goal is often to separate an object from the background -- so you can fiddle with the colors, exposure, or sharpness in one area, for example, without affecting the rest of the photo. Or you might want to clip an object out of the photo and use it in a different project. That's one reason why image editing programs like Corel Paint Shop Pro (which I'll use as my example this week) offer more than one kind of tool to choose from. Different tools work better than others in certain situations.

Suppose you wanted to cut an arbitrary section out of a photo, for instance. There are no obvious edges to cut along, so in a situation like this you might have the most luck with the Freehand or Point to Point tool.

To get started with the Freehand selection tool, open a photo in Paint Shop Pro and then click the Freehand selection tool, which lives in the third cubby in the toolbar on the left side of the screen.

In the Tool Options palette at the top of the screen, choose Freehand from the Selection Type menu. (You can get to the Point to Point tool from Selection Type menu, too.) If you don't see the Tool Options palette, you can toggle it on by choosing View, Palettes, Tool Options.

Neither Freehand nor Point to Point have any built-in intelligence to help you. Wherever you click, you mark your selection.

But they do have their differences. Freehand lets you make a smooth, arbitrary shape -- the tool perfectly follows any motion you make with the mouse. Contrast that with the Point to Point tool: Each time you click, the tool creates a straight line, which allows you to make a complex (but artificially angular) shape with the selection tool.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Dave Johnson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?