Selection II. in Photoshop

One of the most essential points in image editing is accurate selection. You often need to enhance or modify just a part of the photo while leaving all other areas unchanged. If you define (select) the element to be changed inaccurately, you’ll get an inappropriate result, no matter how nicely you work. This topic was neglected a bit until now, but here’s a Photoshop tip to recover the loss. There are scores of tools and methods for selecting picture elements. Now we introduce one suitable for selecting different colors: Color Range.

Open the photo in Photoshop

How about vanishing any colors from this image save for red and its relatives?

Color range

You have to select the red color range to do so, in order to be able to leave it unchanged. It may sound surprising, but the tool for selecting color ranges is actually called Color Range. Click Select/Color Range to activate it.

The top of the dialog contains the dropdown for automatic selection of different color groups. You can even select a whole color range (e.g. reds) at a time, but for accurate work, you shouldn’t let the application have its way with such a task. Choose Sampled Colors instead. This enables you to pick the color you like with an eyedropper. Fuzziness specifies the rigidity of selection. Select a red hue in the picture and set Fuzziness to 0. Photoshop now selects only the areas of precisely the same color. Increase Fuzziness to have more and more of the similar colors selected—e.g., for a red, orange hues. For now, set Fuzziness to a mid-range value and click the eyedropper on the left (it’s already active, anyway). Now, with the eyedropper, click a color in the picture you want selected. Let it be red this time.

The preview image shows the selected areas in white. Black indicates the areas that remain unchanged.

Let’s turn it around

If the selection done by the first click contains too few red areas and you want to add more of them, click the eyedropper with the plus sign, in the middle. You can extend the selection with more colors this way. You’d better stick with colors close to red (pink, orange, etc.) Choose Grayscale under Selection Preview to watch the selection results on the dialog. Now set Fuzziness more precisely in order to increase or decrease the selected area. We found the best results when using a value of 120.

There’s yet another problem. Our aim is to keep the red colors and eliminate all the others. Until now, we selected the reds, while it is them that we don’t want to vanish. So, we have to select all the others, and leave the reds alone. Select the Invert checkbox to turn the selection to the opposite. Now, all the other colors are selected so that we can work with them.

Everything’s ready…

…or at least, the selection is, for color removal. We have selected everything but the red areas of the picture. But still there is a bit of refining to be done. The borders of the selection may be too sharp. This could lead to jagged edges after color removal.

Right-click inside the selection and click Feather. Specify 2 pixels. This slightly blurs the borders of the selection and thus produces a softer transition between the different areas.

Where did all the colors go?

All you have left to do is to remove the colors of the selected areas.

Click Image/Adjustments/Hue-Saturation. Drag Saturation all the way down to -100. This makes all the colors in the selected area vanish. Reds, being unselected, are not modified.

Spot the red

But where are all the other colors?

Gone, thanks to your efforts. All that remains is red, and its relatives.