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Make Quick Selections That Are Actually Good

Making any kind of selections in Photoshop used to be an event. You’d have to break out the Pen Tool and painstakingly trace around an object. People used to make a living only from making clipping paths around objects in Photoshop. In recent years, Adobe has made it easier and easier to make quick selections in Photoshop. The great part is that you could make quick selections without sacrificing quality. In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you how to make quick selections using some of the built-in features of Photoshop CC.

It’s important to start with great graphics or imagery. If you start with poor quality, you’ll end up with poor quality as a result. I used GraphicStock for stock images and graphics, and I’ll be using their image for today’s tutorial. If you want to follow along, you can sign up for a free 7 Day Trial to their site, and download as much as you want for 7 days.

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Once you’ve started your trial, you’ll want to download the target graphic we’ll be using for the tutorial, which you can find here. You can imagine how useful this graphic would be in an ad or a website, in a spot talking about finding the right customers, getting results, or meeting goals.

selection - Make Quick Selections in Photoshop

Making The Selection

You can make the initial selection of your image in to main ways. You can use the Magic Wand Tool, or the Quick Selection Tool. You would use either one, depending on the image and different situations. Since our image is on a solid white background, it would be easiest to use the Magic Wand Tool. If there was a gradient or multiples colors in your background, you might use the Quick Selection Tool to make quick work of including everything you need, and excluding everything you don’t.

If you ever make a selection and it doesn’t include everything you want, simply hold the Shift Key and click again over the area you want added to the selection. If you ever want to subtract an area from your selection, hold down the Alt or Option Key while clicking.

Once you’ve made a general selection, there’s an option in the top option bar, directly above the canvas. It’s called Refine Edge and it’s a life saver. Click that button and an option menu will come up with a variety of different settings. Don’t worry about all of them for this tutorial. We’ll only focus on the ones you’ll actually use most of the time.

refine edge - Make Quick Selections

Refining Your Selection

When the option menu comes up, you’ll want to click on the Smart Radius option. Not necessarily useful for this object, this option is great for including loose strands of hair if you’re selecting people. You will use this nearly every time. I try to never bump it up past half way, because it makes the selection edges too fuzzy. If you want a crisp selection edge, set it as low as possible.

Turning on Smooth will get rid of some of the harshness of your selection. it tends to round out hard edges, making them more uniform.

You might use the Feather option, but use it sparingly. If you do use it, go for the half a pixel or less range. This is generally used for people or images with severe color contamination from ambient light, etc.

Output is probably the most important section above all. I always check Decontaminate Colors. I usually set the amount to 50%. For the section that says “Output to” I select the option that says New Layer With Layer Mask. It leaves the original layer in tact, but creates a duplicate layer, with a mask applied to it based on your selection.

The great thing about having a layer mask is that you can invert it by selecting it and hitting Command or Ctrl + I. You can also use a black or white brush on the mask to further refine your selection and get the exact look you want. Sometimes you will need to paint complicated sections of images back in, or paint out areas that were missed with the software.



You can make quick selections in Photoshop better than ever, with lightning fast tools and no-hassle options. What used to take hours, now takes only minutes to complete. In minutes, even seconds, you can have an image that has been perfectly removed from its background, which you can use in your design projects. Were you able to make quick selections in your images using this tutorial? If you run into any trouble, feel free to let me know in the comments section and I’ll do my best to help you.