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Sally Jane Photographic Art

Adobe Photoshop Tutorial


Adobe Photoshop Tools - Marquee Tools

Polygonal Marquee Tool

See also Magnetic Marquee tool

There are several tools by which you can make selections and which you use will depend upon the image. If you have a subject that has nice clean lines then the polygonal marquee tool is often a good choice especially if areas of the subject blends into the background. The image I am using as an example is of a glider sitting on grass. At first glance you would think there is plenty of definition between the glider and the grassy background but look at the gliders belly. It is reflecting the grass and so blends in. Any automated selection system such as the magnetic marquee tool or the Extrude filter would struggle with this. True, you could use the magnetic marquee tool part of the way around and switch to the polygonal marquee tool for this bit but for the purpose of this tutorial I am going to do it all with the polygonal tool.

making a selection

Notice my layers pallet. The first thing I have done is to copy the image so I have two identical layers. I have then placed a layer in between these which I have filled with a contrasting colour. This just makes life a bit easier for you as it will show the areas you have removed better.

making a selection

Now go around the subject roughly with the polygonal marquee tool. Each time you click on the image it joins up that spot with the last position you clicked with a straight line. When you get back to where you started double clicking will join up the ends. Go to Select on the top menu bar and click on Inverse. Then hit delete and most of the background will disappear. This just makes life a little easier.

making a selection

Now we take off the rest in stages. Zoom in to 100 or evan 200% so you can see the outline clearly. Use the polygonal marquee tool to follow the edge of the subject. Where you are following a curve you will need to click on many points so as not to get corners of clip off any of your image.

making a selection

Use the Quick Mask tool to show you if you have missed anything and make adjustments if necessary. See the tutorial on using the Quick Mask Tool if you are not familiar with it.

making a selection

Exit the quick mask. If the subject is not in sharp focus you might need to feather your selection slightly to make it look right. To do this, go to Select on the top menu bar and click on Feather, enter a value of 1 or 2, maybe more depending on how soft your edge is. Now hit delete. Continue like this until you finish removing all the remaining background.

making selections

Clearly this glider needs some tidying up as there is grass on the wingtip, grass seen through the canopy cover and grass reflected under the belly and fuselage but you get the idea. I have, however, made a mistake. I have inadvertently cut off the pito tube, a tube that sticks out the front of the tail plane. This is not a problem because I still have my original image in the background.

making selections

Fade the grey layer to 50% so you can see the background image showing through but can still make the difference between the selected image and the background. Using the History brush tool set to an appropriate size and softness, and making sure you have the top layer active (not the grey layer) paint in any parts that are missing, in this case the pito tube.

making selections

There, pito tube restored.

Next I'll discuss using the Magnetic Marquee Tool


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