Smart Selection with Quick Mask Mode in Photoshop CS5

Photoshop’s Quick Mask Mode is one of the selection techniques. Unlike other selection tools like Marquees, quick mask mode is a smarter way to make selections. Let us explore how to use it.

1. To activate the Quick Mask Mode, click on Edit in Quick Mask Mode icon icon at the bottom of the Toolbox or press ‘Q’ key.

NOTE: The icon will be used to toggle between the Standard and Quick Mask Mode. Similarly the key ‘Q’ will also help you toggle between both the modes.

2. Select the Brush tool and then start painting the area on the object that you want to select. The selection will be highlighted in semi-transparent red color as you start painting.

Selection in default red color

3. Since our flower is also red in color, the selection is not visible. So we would change the selection color in the Quick Mask Options. Double click on the Edit in Quick Mask Mode icon in the toolbox to open the ‘Quick Mask Options’ dialog box. (See below)

Quick Mask Options

Click on the red color box under the section ‘Color’. Select an alternate color and click OK. You can also change the opacity if you like. We will see what the other two options do, later in the tutorial.

We changed the color to blue and this is how the selection looks now.

Selection in blue

4. Then click on the ‘Edit in Standard Mode’ icon (now the icon acts as ‘Edit in Standard Mode’ icon) to switch back to or key in ‘Q’. The selection will now be visible as shown here:


Quick Mask Options:

Earlier we used the Quick Mask Options dialog box to change the appearance of the selection by changing its color. Let us see what each of these options does;

a. Masked Areas – When chosen, areas not highlighted (painted/marked with red or custom color) will be selected.

b. Selected Areas – When chosen, areas highlighted (painted/marked with red or custom color) will be selected.

c. Color box – Clicking on this box lets you choose a different color than red as the highlight color.

d. Opacity – Enter the value for the opacity of the mask color. Default value is 50% and 100% makes it completely opaque.

Filed Under: Adobe Photoshop


About the Author: Minal is a freelance web and graphics designer. She specializes in designing Logos, Stationery, Graphics and Icons as well as website templates using graphical tools like Photoshop, Illustrator and Expression Web. Twitter @saffronstroke

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  1. […] In this tutorial we will cover all the selection tools except the Quick Mask Mode which is already covered here: Smart Selection with Quick Mask Mode in Photoshop CS5. […]

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