Brush-On Selections In Photoshop

Brush-On Selections In Photoshop
As part of my portrait retouching process, I like to select areas of the face in order to smooth skin tones and eliminate wrinkles and blemishes. And one of the ways I like to quickly make this selection is to use the Select and Mask tool to brush on the selection rather than encircling the area with a lasso. This technique of painting a selection is useful for all sorts of things—not just for portrait retouching. Any time you’d like to quickly select an area, this approach works great.

Brush-On Selections In Photoshop

To brush on a selection, choose the Select and Mask option from Photoshop’s Select menu. The Select and Mask window then opens. On the toolbar on the left side of the screen, choose the third option from the top. This is the Brush Tool. In the options bar above it, you’ll see the plus sign selected by default; this adds to the selection wherever you paint. To remove from the selection, click the minus sign or hold the CTRL key while you click and drag over the area to be deselected.

Brush-On Selections In Photoshop

Next, and perhaps most important, is the brush size and hardness. I like to use as large a brush as I comfortably can, based on the size of the area to be selected. And I typically prefer to use this technique for soft-edged selections, so I dial down the hardness. For a well-defined selection edge, use a harder brush.

You can change how the selection is displayed by changing the View Mode in the top of the Properties panel on the right side of the screen; I prefer the red overlay with selected areas transparent.

Brush-On Selections In Photoshop

Lastly, you’ll want to be deliberate with what the painted area is output to—a selection or a mask. For my retouching purposes, I prefer to paint the area to a selection, but depending on your own needs you may find it useful—and a bit of a time-saver—to output the painted area directly to a layer mask. This is adjusted at the bottom of the Select and Mask window.

Brush-On Selections In Photoshop

When you’re done brushing on the selection, click Okay at the bottom right of the screen, and watch as Photoshop shows you the results of your efforts, in a “marching ants” style selection or a layer mask depending on your choice in the previous step. Once you get used to the process, brushing on selections is an incredibly efficient selection process.

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