Photoshop Friday! 2007 #19 Fun with Selections, part 1

Hi There!

Happy Photoshop Friday! 

I thought I’d do something a little different for the next two weeks, and rather than presenting a layout with a single techinque, we’ll approach Photoshop from a tool-based perspective. We’ll talk about four ways you can use selections. This topic is so great, and so packed with good info, that I’m going to spread it across two weeks. :)

Here are our examples: 


This week we’ll be covering the top two looks: Borders around regular-shaped objects (i.e. circles, squares, rectangles, ovals - stuff that can be drawn with basic selection tools), and borders around shape layers (i.e. the semi-transparent journaling block).

Next week we’ll cover selection of a complex object, such as the flower brush (do you feel a freebie coming on? I do!), and turn it into a sticker complete with drop-shadow. We’ll also cover how to create outline text with a selection. :) 

Shall we get started with this week’s two techniques? 

Technique 1: Creating a Border Around a Regular Shape with Marquee Tools

I use a lot of brushes on my layouts, but sometimes I want an image to overlap several other elements and not be lost in the layout. The great circle brush image from Katie Pertiet’s Bold Statements Brush set.  I’ll create a border around it to help it stand out when it’s sitting over a photo or other items on my layout. This technique works for items that are circles, ovals, rectangles, or squares, or items that have a lot of transparency inside them, such as this circular brush.

1. Open your shape brush’s png file (alternatively, you can install and stamp the brush onto its own layer in a new document with a transparent background, and skip steps 2 and 3).

2. Create a new document. My sample is 5x7, 300 dpi, transparent background.

3. Drag the .png file into the new document

4. Select your Elliptical Marquee tool (below the Rectangular Marquee tool)

5. Center your cursor in the middle of the image.

6. Hold down Alt and Shift while you click and drag outward to create a perfect circle from the center (if you don’t hold down Alt, you will drag a circle from the side, making it harder to center things). Here is my image with the circular selection made:


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7. Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or click the New Layer button in the Layers palette).

8. Go to Edit > Fill Selection (Edit > Fill in PSCS2/3).

9. In the Fill dialog box,  select White as the fill color.

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10.  Click OK.

11. Type Ctrl-d to  deselect your selection.

12. In the Layers palette, drag your white filled layer BELOW your image layer to create the “sticker”.  

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13. To move this sticker onto a layout, you can link the layers together and drag them, or target your image layer in the Layers palette, right-click, and choose Merge Down from the flyout menu. Don’t flatten this image, or you’ll lose your transparent background.

Technique 2: Create a semi-transparent journaling block

I  love to set my journaling off with a little semi-transparent block behind the text - it makes the text easier to read, adds a little graphic appeal, and doesn’t overwhelm the rest of the elements on my layout. For this technique we’ll use the Rounded Rectangle tool to create a shape layer, create a selection from it, and stroke that selection on its own layer to add the border. It’s fun and easy, too, not to mention one of my go-to techniques.

1.  Create a new document. I chose 5x7, 300 dpi, transparent background.
2. Select your Rounded Rectangle tool.
3. Hit “d” to set your default colors to white and black.
4. Hit “x” to switch your foreground color to white. This two-key combination (d, x) is a super-fast way to get your foreground color back to white. :)
5.  In the Options Bar at the top of your screen, type a radius of something between 40 and 60 pixels. 40 if you want a small rounded corner, and 60 if you’re feeling saucy. Make sure you type px after the number. For example, I’m feeling saucy.. so I would type “60px” into the radius box in the Options bar.
 6. Click and drag a white rounded rectangle. Photoshop creates a new Shape layer for you in the Layers palette. 

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Create the Border Selection

I like to put a border on the edge of my journaling block. To do this, we’ll need to create a selection of the rounded rectangle, and then stroke it. 

1.  In your Layers palette, hold down the Ctrl key while you click on the thumbnail of the rounded rectangle shape. Ctrl-clicking on any layer thumbnail in the layers palette will create a selection around the contents of that layer. Very cool!

2. Create a new layer.

At this point, you need to decide whether you want your border to go around the very oustide of your rounded rectangle, or to be slightly inset, like my example above. Skip this next set of instructions if you want your border around the outside of the rectangle.

Inset Border 

1. With your rounded rectangle selection still active, go to Select > Modify > Contract.

2. In the Contract Selection dialog box, type 20 into the pixels box.

3. Click OK.

Your selection contracts by 20 pixels. 

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Stroke the Border 

1. With your selection still active, and with your new layer targeted in your Layers palette, go to Edit > Stroke Selection (Edit > Stroke in PSCS2/3).

2.  Choose 10 px, white, and select the Center radio button.

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3. Click OK.

It’s not going to look like much happened here, until this next step.

4. Target your rectangle shape layer in the layers palette.

5. At the top of the layers palette, slide the Opacity slider down to something like 50%. You’ll see your white border appear as your large block becomes semi-transparent.

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Now you can create your journaling block to fit inside of this rounded, semi-transparent block. Awesome! I use this select+stroke technique all the time for my semi-transparent blocks.

Let’s sum up our tricks so far:

  • Draw a perfect circle from the center outwards with the Elliptical Marquee tool by holding down Alt and Shift while you drag your circle
  • Change your foreground color to white by hitting “d” (returns you to the default colors of black foreground, white background) and then “x” (switches foreground and background)
  • Create a selection around any layer by ctrl-clicking its thumbnail in the layers palette 
  • Contract a selection by a set number of pixels using the Select > Modify > Contract command. 

More tricks to come next week. :D I hope you have an awesome weekend!