The Selection Menu
You might have noticed that, in addition to the Selection tools you have just learned about, there's also a Select menu, shown in Figure 3.8. Probably the most useful commands on the menu are the top four. Select All simply draws a selection marquee around the entire canvas. Deselect removes the selection marquee from the image. Reselect replaces the marquee if you have accidentally deselected something. Inverse lets you select everything but one object by selecting the object and then inverting. For instance, if I had a photo of a lemon on a plate, I could select the lemon and then choose Inverse to select the plate. Inverting is extremely useful, and you'll soon discover that it's one of your favorite commands.
Figure 3.8 The Select menu and Modify submenu.
Feather lets you make selections with fuzzy, feathered edges rather than hard ones. It's very helpful when you want to select an object from one picture and paste it into another because it adds a slight blur that helps the object to blend in. You can use the Feather Selection dialog box, shown in Figure 3.9, to determine how many pixel widths of feathering to apply. Experiment with feathering selections to find out what works best.
Figure 3.9 The Feather Selection dialog box.
Make a Feathered Selection
To make a feathered selection, follow these steps:
Choose an appropriate Selection tool and use it to select as precisely as possible a piece of the picture or an object within the picture.
Choose Select->Feather to open the dialog box.
Enter an amount in the window. Start with 5 and increase or decrease until the selection looks right to you.
Copy the selection and paste it into a new file so you can see the effect of the feathering.
The Select->Modify submenu gives you some other options for working with your selections. Border changes the selected area so that, instead of the whole object, you have selected only a border around it. You can set the width of the border in its dialog box. Smooth is helpful when you have made a lasso selection with a shaky hand. It smoothes out bumps in the Marquee line by as many pixels as you specify. Expand and Contract force, as their names suggest, your selection to grow or shrink as necessary by as many pixels as you designate in the dialog box.