Lasso Tools

The Lasso and Marquee tools are a group of 7 different selection tools at the top of the Photoshop toolbar .

As you work with Photoshop the need to make accurate and precise selections comes up over and over again,  Without a doubt, making clean, accurate, precise selections will enhance your Photoshop results.  

From my point of view the Lasso selection tools may be the most difficult ones to work with. They often tend to be ornery, contrary and unpredictable.  They are most often used to make selections that are add shaped and irregular.

My first choice for making selections is to use the Quick Mask followed by the Pen Tool.  If you're determined to use the Lasso then here are some things to help.

Lasso Tools

There are three of them in the toolbar ...

  • Lasso Tool - this freehand tool follows the pen around the screen.lasso tools

  • Polygonal Lasso Tool - the polygonal tool draws straight edge segments.

  • Magnetic Lasso Tool - this one snaps to the defined edges of an image.  The Magnetic Tool has the advantage of being pressure sensitive when using a pen and tablet (Bamboo and Intuos).  To activate the pressure sensitive aspect just press the Caps Lock key.

Selection Options

The first rule to follow?  

Use a pen tablet like the Wacom Intuos or Wacom Bamboo because they make selections so much easier than working with a mouse or a laptop trackpad.

Options Bar

This is the Options Bar from left to right on the option bar for the Lasso and Polygonal tools ...

The four little squares are  (1) New Selection, (2) Add to Selection, (3) Subtract from Selection, and (4) Intersect with Selection.  

lasso options

will blur sharp edges of a selection by creating a transition between the selection and the adjacent pixels.  These are a couple of elliptical selections ...

lasso no feathering lasso feathering
No Feathering Feathering

Anti-aliasing smooths the jagged edges of a selection by softening the color transition between edge pixels and background pixels.  I just leave it checked for pretty much everything.

Magnetic Lasso Options

Lasso magnetic options

The Magnetic Lasso tool has four additional options in addition to the ones previously mentioned.

Width - the area the Magnetic Lasso is sampling.  In this option bar the tool is only sampling an area 10 pixels wide.

Edge Contrast  - a high number is used for a very contrasty image and a smaller number for less contrasty images.

Frequency - how often the tool will place an anchor point along the edge.

Pen Pressure - the last thing on the right will make the Magnetic Lasso pressure sensitive when a Wacom tablet is installed. The advantage of this as you press harder on the pen is that the circle will become smaller so the sampling area is smaller - and - more precise.

Pressing the Caps Lock key will turn the magnetic Lasso to a circle with a cross in the middle and the circle is the size set in the width box.  As you press harder the circle will get smaller which samples a smaller area.

The Polygonal Lasso Tool

The Polygonal Lasso tool draws only straight segments and you can create as many segments as you like.

The advantage of the Polygonal Lasso Tool is that the segments can be really, really short so it is easy to get around curvy areas.  It may sound counter-intuitive but I find this one the easiest one to use of the three Lasso Tools.

Marquee Tools

The Marquee tools, on the other hand, are much easier to deal with.  They make square, round, elliptical, oval and single pixel selections.

Of particular interest are the Single Row Marquee Tool and the Single Column Marquee Tool.

These two are very useful if you have a horizontal or vertical scratch to eliminate.  Simply make a single row or single column selection next to the scratch, Ctrl-J/Cmd-J the selection to a new layer and use the Move tool to cover the scratch - perfect!

Page Links

Selection Options

Magnetic Lasso Options

Polygonal Tool

Marquee Tools

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