How to Easily Make a Selection in Photoshop Using Magic

The Basics of Photoediting with Magic

by Joe Laudato

In most circumstances the standard area selection tools– the click and drag box and the lasso– don’t quite get the job done when it’s time to both edit an image and retain a full head of hair. Thankfully, Photoshop users are gifted with magic on their quest of photoediting. Here’s how to effectively make use of Photoshop’s magic wand tool:


For example, let’s say that I want to select the red stem of this flower. With only one click aimed at a portion of the red stem, the magic wand selects a large chunk of similarly coloured stem:


This isn’t exactly what I want though. There are some areas of stem that haven’t been selected, and portions of budding flowers that have been selected. The magic wand operates through a colour similarity algorithm, so in order to fine tune my selection, it’s a simple matter of adding the colour ranges that I want and subtracting the colour ranges I don’t want. To do this, I need only make use of the “Add to selection” and “Subtract from selection” tool modifiers highlighted in below in yellow, or simply shift-click to add colour, and alt-click to subtract colour.


After some tweaking with the colour selection, I end up with a selection much closer to what I originally wanted in a very short amount of time.


The Pros and Cons of Magic

Pros: very quick and effective when used on the appropriate image

Cons: isn’t a simple selection tool for every image: colour redundancy scattered throughout an image is difficult to deal with; images without a lot of colour variation will also be difficult to work with.

~ by jtl29 on January 21, 2013.

5 Responses to “How to Easily Make a Selection in Photoshop Using Magic”

  1. I really enjoyed your Blog post. My favorite part about your post was your intro and title. When I first read the title I was thinking what is this ‘magic’ all about. At first I wasn’t sure how I felt about the title, but after reading the entire post I feel like your title really drew me in an made me want to keep reading. It was a simple and creative at the same time. I like that you used screen shots to explain the steps. This makes it easier to follow along with your tutorial. If you’re new to Photoshop it can be difficult to locate some of the tools so pointing out exactly what tools you are using with pictures is very beneficial. Your explanation of how the magic wand tool works was a very important element and I think you explained it very clearly, but I got a bit lost when you began to explain the subtract and add selection part. I was a little bit confused by that step, but I didn’t follow along in Photoshop so it may have been easier to understand. -Aisha Hughes

  2. Best Style-
    Aisha H

  3. This one has the best style because it is both laid out on the page well and it makes good use of images. And it has a bonus pros/cons list which is really helpful when deciding to use it. The only problem is it needs more clarification about color selection!

    – Melissa

  4. Best Style
    -Mallory Horn

  5. best style -tyler allen

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