Selection Tools in Photoshop CS5

Adobe Photoshop has different selection tools like Rectangular Marquee, Elliptical  Marquee, Single Row Marquee, Single Column Marquee, Lasso, Polygonal Lasso, Magnetic Lasso, Quick Selection, Magic Wand and Quick Mask mode.

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.

Photoshop CS5 has grouped similar selection tools into 3 categories in your toolbox:


Your toolbox should look similar to the image given above. If you have already explored the selection tools that are hidden under these (click and hold on the small triangle at the bottom of each icon to open the fly out menu), your toolbox may look different than this. It will display the selection tool you have selected last, from the fly out menu.

A. Marquee Tools

Marquee Tools

1. Rectangular Marquee Tool – Selects rectangular and square areas. To make a rectangular selection, select the tool from the toolbox and start drawing the area over the image. To make a square selection, hold down the ‘Shift’ key as you draw.

2. Elliptical Marquee Tool – Selects ellipses and circular areas. To make an elliptical selection, select the tool from the toolbox and start drawing the area over the image. To make a circular selection, hold down the ‘Shift’ key as you draw.

3. Single Row Marquee Tool – Selects an area of single row.

4. Single Column Marquee Tool – Selects an area of single column.

B. Lasso Tools

Lasso Tools

1. Lasso Tool – Makes freehand selections.

2. Polygonal Lasso Tool – Makes freehand selections, but its contour is made up of straight segments.

3. Magnetic Lasso Tool – also makes a freehand selection but you have to follow the contour of the object. When there is a clear distinction of object’s color from the background color, then the Magnetic Lasso tool will select the object automatically as you move your cursor.

C. Quick Selection Tools

Quick Selection and Magic Wand Tools

1. Quick Selection Tool – Helps you select a larger area by selecting in portions.

2. Magic Wand Tool – Selects an area that is consistently colored. You can set the Tolerance value in the Options palette (below the menu bar). The value ranges from 0-255 and a higher value will include more colors into the selected area.

You can use one or more selection tools given here to make the best selection. Use the Options palette to choose the appropriate type of selection. For instance, if you are using two selection tools, after you select a portion using first one, select the second one, choose ‘Add to selection’ option from the Options palette and use the second tool to select. Both the selections would be merged.

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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