Making a selection


In any photo editing program, the selection tools and techniques are as significant as any of the basic brush tools or commands. The basic principle is simple: quite often you'll want to perform an operation on just a portion of the image. To do this you must define an active selection area.

The wide range of selection options in PhotoPlus lets you:

Selection basics

Although the techniques for using the various selection methods differ, the end result is always the same: a portion of the active layer has been "roped off" from the rest of the image. The boundary is visible as a broken line or marquee around the selected region (see above).

Whenever there's a selection, certain tools and commands operate only on the pixels inside the selection—as opposed to a condition where nothing is selected, in which case those functions generally affect the entire active layer.

To cancel the selection (select nothing):

The opposite of selecting nothing is selecting everything:

For partial selection of opaque pixels, you can Ctrl-click the layer thumbnail (in Layers tab).

Here's another important point: Just as grayscale is more than black-and-white, a selection can be more complex than an all-or-nothing proposition. Within the selected/marqueed region, individual pixels can have varying degrees of "selectedness". For example, antialiasing and feathering are properties of the various selection tools that can help you achieve better edge smoothness and multi-image blends.

Selection tool options

PhotoPlus offers a very wide range of other selection methods, and a variety of commands for modifying the extent or properties of the selected pixels—all available from the Tools toolbar. Note that the selection tools work on Background and standard layers, but not on text layers or shape layers.

Available from:


  Selection Tools flyout

 Rectangle Selection Tool—drag out a rectangular selection area of your chosen size (use the Ctrl key to constrain to a Square area).

 Ellipse Selection Tool—drag out an ellipse selection area (use Ctrl key to constrain to a circle).

 QuickShape Selection Tools flyout—provides different variable shapes, including pie, star, arrow, heart, spiral, wave, and so on. The shapes can be further "morphed" into other custom QuickShapes by dragging node handles around the QuickShape. (See Using QuickShape Selection Tools.)


 Lasso Tools flyout

 Freehand Selection Tool—lets you draw a freehand (irregular) line which is closed automatically to create an irregularly shaped selection area.

 Polygon Selection Tool—lets you draw a series of straight-line segments (double-click to close the polygon).

 Magnetic Selection Tool—lets you trace around an object edge creating a selection line that snaps to the edge as you drag. (See Using the Magnetic Selection Tool.)

directly from toolbar

 Magic Wand Tool—lets you select a region based on the color similarity of adjacent pixels—simply click a starting pixel then set a Tolerance from the context toolbar. It works much like the fill tool, but the result is a selected region rather than a region flooded with a color.

directly from toolbar

 Selection Brush Tool—lets you paint your selection as a series of brush strokes. (See Using the Selection Brush Tool.)

 Text Tools flyout

 Text Selection Tool—lets you create a selection in the form of text. Click with the tool to display the Text cursor. Type your text, format as needed, and click OK. (See Creating and Editing text.)

For any selection tool, the Context toolbar includes combination buttons (New, Add, Subtract, and Intersect) that determine the effect of each new selection operation. For example, starting with a square selection (created with the New button), here's what a second partly overlaid square (shown with a solid blue line) might produce with each setting:





















For Rectangle and Ellipse Selection tools, the Context toolbar additionally lets you set a Fixed Size or Fixed Aspect, or number of Rows or Columns (Rectangle Selection Tool only) in advance of creating your selection—great if you have a clear idea of the selection area required!

Using QuickShape Selection Tools

A unique feature of these tools is the ability to "morph" the initial QuickShape to one of an unlimited number of custom QuickShapes. This means that adding a placed QuickShape is only the starting point to creating your selection.   

To morph a QuickShape:

  1. From the Tools toolbar's  Selection Tools flyout, select a QuickShape from the  QuickShape Selection Tools flyout.

  2. Drag out the shape on the layer. You can hold down the Ctrl key to constrain the shape.

  3. Drag a node handle(s) to fine-tune the QuickShape.


Each of the slider tracks has a square handle, and when you move the cursor on to the handle it will change to a + sign. As you drag a slider (circled above), the shape’s properties change.

  1. Double-click within the shape to change it to a selection area.

Using the Magnetic Selection Tool

The  Magnetic Selection Tool makes it easy to isolate part of an image where there's already a bit of an edge showing. You simply trace around the edge, and PhotoPlus snaps the selection marquee to the nearest dramatic color change.

To use the Magnetic Selection Tool:

  1. Click once on the image to place a starting node along an edge.

  2. Trace the cursor along the edge; the marquee line follows the nearest edge. At regular distances, nodes automatically appear along the line. Only the portion of the line beyond the last node remains adjustable.

On the Context toolbar, you can adjust the tool's Frequency (distance between automatic nodes) and Contrast (edge sensitivity) for best results. As a shortcut, press the up and down arrow keys (or use your mouse's spinwheel) to adjust the contrast setting on the fly.

Using the Selection Brush Tool

For a selection area defined by a laid-down series of brush strokes, try the Selection Brush Tool. This is ideal for painting areas which might otherwise be difficult to select using previously described selection tools. For example, the image below shows a brush selection under the eye, used to restrict photo editing to within the selection area.

To use the Selection Brush Tool:

  1. Select a brush from the Brush Tip tab.

  2. From the Tools toolbar, select the Selection Brush Tool.

  3. On the context toolbar, the brush properties can be adjusted:

  1. Paint a brush stroke(s) on your page to create your selection.

Selecting layer opacity/transparency

New layers are transparent (they have an alpha channel), but once you've placed pixels on the layer you'll be able to select between the layer's pixels (i.e., their opacity) and remaining transparency.  

To create a selection from a layer's opacity/transparency:

Storing selections

Finally, you can store selections (i.e., just the marqueed region and per-pixel selectedness data) as part of either the current image or any open image file, and load a stored selection at any time. It's often useful to be able to "grab" the same region of an image at different phases of working on it. And, for repetitive tasks (preparing web buttons, for example) on different but graphically similar files, by storing a selection you can reuse it rather than having to recreate it for each file.

To store a selection:

  1. Right-click on the selection and choose Store Selection... (or use the Select menu).

  2. In the dialog, specify the open file (all open files are listed) where you want to store the selection.

  3. Select "New" to store the selection under a new name, or choose an existing selection name to overwrite.

  4. Click OK. (If you selected "New" you'll be prompted to type a name.)

To load a selection:

  1. Choose Load Selection... from the Select menu.

  2. In the dialog, specify the open file (all open files are listed) from which you want to load the selection, and choose the name of the selection to load.

  3. Select New Selection, Add to Selection, Subtract from Selection, or Intersect with Selection to determine how the newly loaded selection should interact with an existing selection, if any.

  4. Click OK.

To delete a stored selection:

  1. Choose either Store Selection... or Load Selection... from the Select menu.

  2. In the dialog, specify the open file and the name of the selection.

  3. Click Delete.