Have you ever wanted to change the attributes of something other than what you’ve already selected in Adobe Photoshop? What I mean is, let’s say you have a photo like the one above. You use one of the many selection tools that Photoshop has to offer and you select the iris of the eye. The thing is, you’re already happy with the way the iris is portrayed. What you’d like to do is change everything else in the photo. Maybe it’s the hue, saturation or the contrast. If you’ve ever wondered how designers and photo editors do things like this, you’re in luck. Today I’m going to show you how it’s done.
In this post, I’m going to explain how to go about selecting an area of a photograph and then how to invert that selection. By doing this, you’ll have the ability to alter everything but what you initially selected. This is a very handy bit of knowledge to have in your back pocket, so be sure to read the post all the way through. Also, at the end, I’ll give you a quick tip that will help accomplish the same task by using a different method.
Making My Selection
I’m going to stick to using the simple selection tools in this post. I could go for one of the more advanced ones, but since I have yet to talk about them, I don’t want to confuse anyone. Especially since this isn’t a post about selection, per se. Because this is the case, I’ll use the Elliptical Marquee Tool from the left toolbar. With this tool, I want to select the iris. Because the area I’d like to select is round and challenging to accurate encapsulate, I’m going to drag one guide from the ruler that runs along the top of my work area and another that runs along the left side. For the top guide, I’m going to rest the horizontal line right on top of the iris and for the left guide, I’ll line it up with the leftmost edge of the iris. Then, I’ll rest my tool pointer right on top of the intersection of my guides and click and drag down and to the right. This will effectively circle the iris with the Elliptical Marquee Tool. When I feel the iris is selected to my liking, I’ll let go of the mouse. I know this sounds like a lot of steps. It isn’t. Just take a look at the photo below.
I’ve got a tip for you. If you want to select something and make your selection either a perfect square or circle, simply hold down the Shift key on your keyboard as you’re dragging the tool. That will lock those proportions. Also, if you don’t see any rulers in your workspace, head up to the View > Rulers menu and make sure that item is checked off. To create a guide from a ruler, simply click on top of one of the actual rulers and drag your mouse outward towards where you’d like the guide to rest. To adjust the position of a guide, use the Move Tool from the left toolbar and hover over the guide. When the mouse pointer changes to a different icon, you can click and drag anywhere you’d like. To remove a guide, click and drag it right off the screen. Let go of the mouse and it’ll disappear.
Inverting the Selection
Now that I have the area I want to protect selected, I can invert the selection so it encapsulates everything but this initial area. To do this, I’ll head up to the Select > Inverse menu item and click. Take a look at what happens when I do that.
To see what happened, look closely at the above screenshot. At first glance, you might not notice anything. Take a look at the outer edge of the screenshot. Instead of having the iris selected, the selected area reversed itself and now everything but the iris is selected. What good is this? I’ll show you.
Desaturating Selected Area
My goal for this project is to make the iris really stand out from the rest of the photo. To accomplish this, I’ll desaturate the selected area. To do this in a non-destructive manner, like I explained in this post and this post, I’ll head over to the Adjustments panel and click on Hue/Saturation.
From there, I’ll move the Saturation slider all the way to the left. This will remove all color.
See what happened? It’s sort of like those photos where everything is in black and white, except for one item. Usually a rose or something like that. It’s fairly easy to accomplish. Well, if the area to initially select is round or square. If it’s oddly shaped, it’s going to be more of a chore. I’ll get to that in a later post.
As promised, I’ll give you a bonus method that will accomplish the same task. Now, the only reason I’m giving this method is because this is a simple project. I can get away with it. If I had different or further goals, I might not use this.
Since I want to separate the iris from everything else in the photo, I’ll set up the rulers and select it like I did above.
Once selected, I’ll click Ctrl+C and then Ctrl+V on my keyboard to copy and paste the selection. This will turn the iris into it’s own layer. Here, I’ll move it around a bit just to prove that.
Of course, I clicked on Edit > Undo after I moved the layer because I want it in the correct position, which is where it started.
Now that I have the iris on its own distinct layer, it’s protected from what happens to the original layer beneath it. So, if I click on the bottom layer with the photo in it and then head up to the Adjustments panel and click on Hue/Saturation again, I can follow the same exact instructions as I gave above. I can move the saturation slider all the way to the left to desaturate the entire layer, while leaving the layer above untouched. I’ll get rid of the guides and show you the result.
See? I get the same result. And to be honest, in certain cases, this method is more versatile. But, this post was supposed to be about how to invert a selection, so you can safely ignore this second method.
Questions? Please ask below. I love to answer any and all of them.
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