Curriculum Guide Index

SLP Curriculum Guide #12: Freehand Selection Tools

The Selections Tools are used to select an area or areas of an image or photographs. The tools include Selection, Freehand, Magic Wand and Crop. I also include the Dropper and Move Tools with this set of tools. Each of these tools have their own set of options though in some cases the options may be similar between tools. Thus, exploring each tool and its options allows one to master that tool.

In this Guide we will explore the Freehand Selection tools in which there are four types of tools: (1) Freehand, Edge Seeker, Point to Point and Smart Edge. Each of these freehand tools have a particular way of drawing a selection.

  • The 'Freehand' tool is just that, a continuous freehand drawing of a selection around an object.
  • The 'Edge Seeker' will seek the edge of an object with a line drawn between the object by clicking on the edges of irregularly shaped objects in which there are subtle or light color changes between them.
  • The 'Smart Edge', like the Edge Seeker, finds the edge of an object when the two adjacent areas are of a sharply or highly defined color contrast between them.
  • The 'Point to Point' selection tool draws straight lines between the points used to select an object.


  • Although one can use a Mouse, using a Pen and Tablet allows for a more accurate drawing of the selection.
  • Know how to make the edges smooth by using the Tools Tool Option palette options of Feather, Range, Smoothing, Anti-Alias (use the Help || Context Help menu item to read the definitions of these options). These options will assist in creating selected areas with smoother edges when wanted or needed.
  • Know also how to use the menu item Selections || Modify || (Feather, Inside-Outside Feather, Unfeather) Options to also create smoothed edges and or other feathered type of selections.
  • When creating an image with the selection tools, learn how to use layers to experiment in order to preserve not only the original image or photograph but also your various attempts to create a unique picture. (See example below.)


  • In addition to the above tips, often by zooming the image one can more accurately draw around the edges of the object to be selected.
  • Experiment with different photographs, some with subtle color differences and highly defined contrasting colors.
  • Learn that making a number of small line clicks (right click) to define the selection will often work better than making click to define larger selected line; and, note that to complete the selection use a Left Click.


  • Review the above tips.
  • When straighter lines can be used to make a selection know that frequent clicks (right click) will often make for a more accurate selection.


Note: Click on Thumbnail for full size.
  • Duplicated original picture twice and turned off the two bottom layers.
  • On Top Duplicated Layer, Used 'Edge Seeker' with Feather = 0, range = 10, smoothing = 40 and Anti-alias checked.
  • Used Selections || Invert and then deleted the background.
  • Enhanced the object after again inverting selection to create a drop shadow.
  • After turning on the middle layer, I used Effects || Edge Effects || Find All
  • Merge All Layers and saved as a JPG file.
  • On the middle layer


  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:
    • a. Name or Screen Name.
    • b. Web Site URL.
    • c. Version of PSP using.
    • d. List of Tutorials completed.
  2. From exploration of using the Selection Tools on images and/or photographs post some of your results and or comments in response to the exercises.
    • a. Indicate what you did so others can duplicate.
    • b. Indicate what option values.
    • c. Add comments on your results and findings of interest.
    • d. Share your questions and comments in the SLP Forum and your graphic results in the member Gallery SLP Album as well as in the Forum.


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