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How to select with Photoshop’s Magic Wand

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by The Photoshop Creative Team
March 1, 2012

This free tutorial shows how to select objects with Photoshop’s Magic Wand tool

The Magic Wand is the ideal tool when dealing with objects that have an irregular edge that is hard to manually select, or an image that has a lot of the same colours.

It can either select the part of the image you want, or the area outside the part you want and the selection can be inverted. This quick fix tutorial will show you what effect options such as Tolerance, Anti-alias and Contiguous selection have on the process.

Set the Tolerance

Load the image and select the Magic Wand tool. It works by selecting areas of similar colour based on the Tolerance setting. Click outside the flower. If not enough of the area has been selected, increase the Tolerance to pick up similar colours. If parts of the image you don’t want with the selection are picked up, reduce the Tolerance setting to 20.

magic wand tool 1

Contiguous colours

The Contiguous setting means that it includes similar colours that are next to the ones selected. This is the setting we want for this image because there are similar colours in the middle. If this box is unticked, similar colours are select wherever they are. Hold down the Shift key and click in areas not selected yet.

magic wand 2

Zoom in

Until you zoom in to 100%, you won’t see small areas that have been missed by the Wand. Hold down Shift and click on these. If areas that are not wanted become selected, hold Alt and click on them to deselect, then reduce the Tolerance. Go to Select>Modify>Smooth and enter a value of 1px to help smooth out any rough edges.

magic wand 3