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by Wendi Elizabeth Martha Scarth


Quick Selection Tool
Adobe Photoshop


 Extract Backgrounds With The Quick Selection Tool
  Suitable for Adobe Photoshop CS, CS2, CS3, CS4, CS5, CS6 & CC
Skill Level - Intermediate

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This tutorial demonstrates how to utilise Photoshop’s Quick Selection Tool
To work along exactly, you are welcome to download the Start Images I am working with
HereUnzip the file and open it onto Photoshop’s workspace.

Understanding Layers
Understand The Workspace And Palettes

The Quick Selection Tool works best with objects that have high contrast with their backgrounds; for images with less contrast, choose a Tool from my Extracting Backgrounds (PDF) lessons.

Undo and Navigation Steps
Two ways of undoing steps are from the top menu, Edit then Step Backwards. Alternatively, click a previous snapshot in the History Palette.

Navigate (zoom in and pan) your image using the Navigator Palette,

or the Zoom Tool.

Activate The Hand Tool by tapping the Spacebar, keeping the Spacebar pressed, pan your image in the usual way.

Open your Start Images onto Photoshop’s workspace: then drag the background image to one side, and enlarge the flower image with the Zoom Tool .


Unlock the Background Layer by double-clicking it.

Then from the left-side Tools Toolbar, activate the Quick Selection Tool.

And set the following attributes into its Options Bar.

The Quick Selection Tool application is similar to the Paint Brush Tool, however, instead of painting colour, you are painting a Selection Marquee.

Now, beginning where I have indicated below-left, left-click, and hold: then slowly paint a Selection Marquee over the flower - as shown below-right.


With your mouse button pressed, sweep your brush towards the edge of the yellow flower; this expands the Selection Marquee, and it should stop when it reaches the contrast line between the flower and its blue background.

Now, expand the Selection Marquee by moving the Brush towards the edge of the flower.

(Alternatively, apply the Selection Marquee one click at a time).

If the Selection Marquee transcends into the blue sky, as demonstrated below.

Click a previous snapshot in the History Palette, or Step Backwards.

By default, in later versions, the History Palette is docked to the top right Palette Well; however, it can be expanded (or docked) by clicking it’s icon - highlighted below-left. (It can also be dragged onto another palette, perhaps next to the Layers tab, if you prefer).


Now, continue expanding the Selection Marquee, reducing and enlarging the Brush Size as necessary. To quickly change the Brush Size, (ensure Capitals are Off), then tap your Keyboard’s Right or Left Bracket Key. To expand the Selection Marquee around the petal’s tip; reduce the Brush Size so it is no bigger than the tip, then left-click and slowly expand the Selection Marquee. Although this is not a difficult tool to master, it has a learning curve.


Then, altering the Brush Size as necessary: left-click: - or apply your Brush in a sweeping motion, to expand the Selection Marquee so it isolates the yellow petals; stepping backwards if you need to.

yellow flower all quickly

Then reduce the Brush Size, and carefully paint a Selection Marquee around the green

Now, from the Tool Options Bar, click the following Refine Edge tab.

And from the subsequent Refine Edge dialogue box, enter the following settings (or experiment). When you are happy with the feathering and blending - click OK.

The Refine Edge command alters the Selection Marquee, helping your image (when it is cut out), to blend with a new background. Your choice of background and the look you are seeking dictates your choice of settings, therefore, familiarise yourself with this command, and find a setting that suits your photograph’s needs. As you change the sliders and settings, the flower image will change accordingly, therefore, keep an eye on your image. Additionally, hover your cursor over the thumbnails at the bottom of the dialogue box, and the Description will change accordingly.

Now, from the top menu, choose Select then choose Inverse.

Then press your Keyboard’s Delete Key: (Edit then Clear). The flower’s background will be deleted leaving a Chessboard Transparency. Press Ctrl then D (Selections then Deselect) to remove the Selection Marquee, and drag your newly extracted flower onto a second image using the Move Tool, and reposition the flower with the Free Transform command.


To finish, apply a Sharpening Filter to your extracted flower (Filter then Sharpen). 

Then from the top menu, choose Layer then choose Flatten Image.

Congratulations, your work is complete
and is ready to save.

Wendi E M Scarth.
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