Learn how to: Select complex objects, such as those with fuzzy outlines
The Magic Wand tool is good for selecting objects or areas in a photo where the pixels are similar in tone and where the surrounding pixels have brightness levels that differ greatly from those of the object.
However, when the object comprises a wide range of brightness levels and the surrounding pixels are not vastly different, try Photoshop CS5's Quick Selection tool instead.
1. Quick Selection tool
In the back-lit snapshot of the horse-rider statue, we want to select only the statue so that we can brighten it without affecting the trees and evening sky in the background.
Select the Quick Selection tool from the toolbox. Drag the cursor inside the statue.
Photoshop will select an area around the cursor based on the colours of the pixels.
If the selected area is too small, drag the cursor to another area within the statue and the new selection will be added to the current one.
If areas outside the statue are also selected, hold down the Alt key and drag the cursor to the unwanted areas to de-select them.
Photoshop will remember the colours you do not want and avoid selecting them later.
Continue to add selections or de-select them until only the statue remains. Use the Curves adjustment to lighten up the silhouetted statue (Picture 2).
2. Complex selections
The ultimate test is when the object has a hairy or fuzzy outline. Photoshop has a few controls to make such selections easier.
I snapped a photo of a beautiful deer in Miyajima, Japan, just as it turned to look at me.
Unfortunately, the background is cluttered with a tree branch and some houses in the distance. I decided to select the deer, paste it onto another photo I took of a clear blue sky and add a caption.
Using the Quick Selection tool, make a quick selection of the deer. Click the Refine Edge button in the Options bar just below the main menu.
The Refine Edge dialogue box pops up with controls to modify the existing selection.