Photoshop Friday #20! Fun With Selections, part 2

Hi There!

Today is an exciting day! Partly because we’ll be talking about selections again, which are some of my favorite Photoshop features, and partly because after a lot of hard work and preparation, is finally live! Yahooo! :D

The best part of it is the instructor-led online course I’ll be teaching starting on June 18! This is something I’ve been planning and working toward for a long time, actually since way back in August-ish of last year, when CK approached me about doing an online digital scrapbooking class. I was totally excited when they gave me permission to teach this course (the same plan I had for CKU  Homestudy) at my own web site. I’m so glad that it can be of some use now! :D

Photoshop Friday - Selections Part 2 

You’ll remember from last week’s Photoshop Friday that we worked on creating and manipulating borders around simple brush shapes, as well as creating borders and semi-transparency using shapes we’ve drawn with our shape tools.

This week we’ll move on to two other great selection techniques: Selecting and creating borders around complex shapes, and selecting and outlining type. Awesome!


Technique 3: Selecting and Creating a Border Around a Complex Shape

This one is really fun! It’s a great way to extend your brushes and digital rub-ons for those times when you’d like more of a sticker or paper-patch look. I’ve been way into this technique lately.

1. Open a complex shape. For example, if you wanted, you could download this free flower image right here. Just click the thumbnail, and right-click and Save As to get the image:

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2. Open your file, and make sure your image to select is on its own layer with no background.

3. In the Layers palette, Ctrl-click on the THUMBNAIL of the image to select it. (Check that out! Fun and easy too!)

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Expanding the Selection

Now in order to make our sticker-look, we’ll expand this selection. 

1.  Create a new layer by clicking on the New Layer button in the Layers palette.

2. Go to Select > Modify > Expand.

3. In the Expand Selection dialog box, type in 20 and click OK.

Filling and Arranging the New Layer

Now we need to fill this layer and arrange it below our brush shape. We’ll fill our selection with white.

1. One great way to get your foreground color back to white is to hit “d”, which returns your foreground and background colors to their defaults (black foreground, white background), and then to hit “x”, which switches the foreground and background colors. So type “d”, and then type “x”.

2. Select your Paint Bucket tool, and with your new layer targeted, click once inside of your expanded flower selection.

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3. Hit Ctrl-d to deselect your selection.

4. Click and drag your white filled layer BELOW  your flower shape.

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(Realistic) Drop-Shadows

Now for the fun part! Let’s add a realistic drop shadow here.

For Photoshop Elements 5: 

1. In your Artwork & Effects palette, select Layer Syles and Drop Shadows in the dropdowns.

2. With your white filled layer targeted, double-click on the Low icon.

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Your flower shoots off the page like it’s on 5 levels of pop-dots. We’ll fix that here in the next step.

3. In your Layers palette, you’ll now see a little sun icon next to the name of your white filled layer. Double-click the sun icon.

4. These are my preferred settings almost anytime I’m making a drop shadow. I’ll share them with you now. :)

In the Style Settings dialog box, set the following:


  • Angle: 120 degrees
  • Size: 5
  • Distance: 5
  • Opacity: 40%
5. Click OK.



1. With your white filled layer targeted, go to Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow.

2. In the Layer Style dialog box,  set the following:


  • Opacity: 40%
  • Angle: 120 degrees
  • Distance: 5
  • Spread: 0
  • Size: 5
3. Click OK.
 Now you can merge your two layers together, or just link them to drag them onto your layout and arrange as you’d like!


Technique 4: Creating and Stroking a Selection from Type

This one is really cool if you’d like to create a title that has a mix of both filled and outline fonts, and you’d like to use the same font for it! There are several other uses for it as well, and I’d love to see what use YOU put this to. :) I’ve created a new blank file here, 5x7, for demo purposes.

1. Select your Horizontal Type tool.

2. In the Options bar at the top of your screen, select a font and a type size. I chose Impact, 72 points. The color doesn’t matter, since we’re just using our type as a guide for creating a selection.

3. Click down anywhere in your document, and type your word.

4. Select the Type tool again to commit your change.

5. In the Layers palette, hold down Ctrl while you click on the THUMBNAIL of your type (it’s just a letter T). This creates a selection around each letter in your word.

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6. Click on the New Layer button in the Layers palette to create a new layer.

Now you could do lots of things here - you could fill the type with a pattern, you could brush it with a grungy brush (another approach to our PSF from a couple of weeks ago), or you could expand the selection and create a sticker out of it like we did in Technique 3. What we’ll do in our sample is very simple - we’ll just stroke the line as it is now to create an outlined font.

Stroke the Outline 

1. With your new layer targeted, go to Edit > Stroke Selection.

2. In the Stroke  dialog box, choose 10 pixels, any color, either Center or Outside, and click OK.

3. Type ctrl-d to deselect your selection.

4. In the Layers palette, hide the type layer by clicking on the small eyeball icon next to the layer thumbnail. (You can also throw away this type layer, since you won’t need it anymore).

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That’s it!

I’m leaving this afternoon for Nisa’s wedding! She gets hitched on Sunday! Yahoo! Drop by her blog if you have a sec and wish her luck and all the best ok? :)

I hope you have a SUPER Photoshop Friday!