2007 SLP Curriculum Guide #14 Using Selections
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In this guide, I will use various illustrations on a photograph I first enhanced with Auto Fix, Clone and Object Removal, and the Clarify. These sets of illustrations present ways to use selections to create different artistic displays of a photograph. As with all examples I encourage you to explore using the techniques to create your own unique photographic displays.

Original: This photograph is of my wife, cat named Gizmo and Takoma our dog while we are on a camping trip. Although it is a fairly good photograph I wanted to remove some of the background of the table and other parts of the background. Also I wanted to brighten it some and sharpen it as well.
Enhanced: Using many of the tools presented in previous guides, I first brightened the photograph with the Auto Fix and some tweaking of sharpening and colors. Then I used both the Clone and Object Remover tools to remove unwanted background replacing it with the gravel and greenery. I finished up with the Clarify Tool which creates better definition of shadowing and highlights and tends to present a sharper, cleaner result.


Using 'Selections' one can create borders as well as different ways to present the photograph. There are a couple of different ways to create selections. One is to use the 'Selection Tool' and draw selections using either freehand, oval or rectangular selections around portions of the photograph. Another is to use the menu item "Selections" in which one has a number of different options for how to create a selection. The illustrations below will demonstrate some of the ways to use selections to create artful photographs.

Plain Border: To just create a border around a photograph to create an image that looks like a photograph with its white border, one uses the Menu Item 'Selections'.
  1. Selections || Select All to first set a selection around the outer edges of the photograph.
  2. Selections || Modify || Select Section Border which brings up a dialogue window where you can select 'Inside' (which is a default setting), Outside, or Both Sides and one can check 'Anti-Alias' and then set the number of pixels in the 'Border Width' to set how large a border wanted. (I used 10 pixels for my illustration width.)

If one wants to create either a circle/oval or rectangle within the photograph the first step is to draw that selection. Then use the Second step.

Finally, flood fill the selection with the color wanted. I used 'White'. Note also one can enhance the border with colors, with the Inner Bevel Effect or the Displacement Map Effect (Effects || Displacement Map) to create interesting frames.

Highlighting with Blur: There are different ways to highlight an area or object within a photograph. In this illustration I drew an oval selection to highlight my wife's face, the cat's face and the dog's face. Next I Inverted the selection (Selections || Invert), Feathered it (Selections || Modify || Inside/Outside Feather setting the feather to 'Inside' and about a 20 value) and finally used a Radial Blur (Adjust || Blur || Radial Blur with the Zoom option and blur set to around 10) to blur the selected area and highlight the faces. I also added a light grey border (see above) to set off the photograph.

One could use a 'Gaussian Blur' (Adjust || Blur || Gaussian Blur, or just other blur options. Keep in mind using a Guassian Blur will also cause the edges of the photograph to be somewhat transparent as well so use the crop tool around the edges to get a clean picture.

Vignette: Another technique is to create a colored background, then draw the selection around the object(s), feather it and delete the outside area of the selection (using Selection || Invert). In this example I also then added a texture and an inner bevel to the background. I also cropped the photograph to get it better centered.

One could also create the selection using the photograph as the lower layer to a colored upper layer and then delete on the colored layer the selection to reveal the photographic area.

An Example: In this example I used the technique of drawing a selection around each of the objects, one at a time. I first copied the selection (Ctrl + C} then pasted it onto a white background as a new layer (Ctrl + L)and repeated this three times, once for my wife's face, then the cat's face and finally the dog's face.

I used the 'Move' tool to position the objects, then copied and pasted another selection of the picture's background, duplicated it as needed to create a particular shaped picture. Then I merged the layers (except for the background) and centered that layer.

I created another background layer (bottom layer). I then drew an oval on the first background, inverted the selection using no feathering, and then used a very light texture and an inner bevel. I centered it on the background so the picture was balance.

Air Brush Painting: Air Brush Painting using a photograph or photographs can be a great deal of fun as well as a very neat creative approach to photographic presentations. (See http://www.pspug.org/tutorial/html/tut8eff/airbrush_v8.htm) In this example I painting with the Air Brush on separate layers above the background first my wife's face, then the cat's, the dog's and part of the background woods. I then used the 'Move' tool to position the paintings. Finally I cropped the photograph and put a small inner bevel frame to it.
Grey Scale Painting: In this final example, another technique of greyscale painting is illustrated. I first set the original photograph to Greyscale, then Increased Colors to 8 Bit or back to 65,000 plus colors. I then duplicated the original (copying it) and pastes it as a new layer and made it the bottom layer. I used the 'Eraser' tool at low values for Hardness and Opacity and erased my wife's face to reveal the colors from the lower layer. I also erased one background bush and the rock. Finally I lowered the opacity of the greyscaled layer slightly to just barely reveal dull colors.


These illustrations provide some examples of ways to use selections to create and show off a photograph. There are other ways as well which I will cover in another guide. Explore using selections as ways to present photographs and you will discover many unique creations.

Also, Air Brush painting and Greyscale Painting are two additional techniques one can use to present photographs. Take time now to explore these as well as other ways you can use PSP features to enhance photographs.

Have fun!


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • Name or Screen Name.
    • Web Site URL.
    • Version of PSP using.
    • List of Tutorials completed.
  2. Post your Work:
    • List what you did, feature, options used, values.
    • Indicate steps taken and results.
    • Indicate things you found interesting, worthwhile and any other comments.
  3. Comment on any particular techniques you used or discovered, any particular results you found perhaps by accident and any ideas you have for creating a particular result.
  4. Post any questions and comments in the SLP Forum.

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