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Using the Magic Wand and different Selection Tools with Smart Brush

The Smart Brush is one of the most powerful features of Photoshop Elements. It combines the power of Adjustments Layers and Quick Selection technologies in one tool – giving a quick and easy way to apply magnificent effects to certain portions of an image. 

However, in certain images, the selections are complex and it is often easier to use other selection tools such as Lasso Tool or Magic Wand Tool to select exact portions of an image.

This article explains how we can apply Smart Brush presets on selections made through the Magic Wand or other Selection Tools. In this particular example, we would like to add life to the picture by adding a sunset effect to the dull sky, by using the Sunset preset of Smart Brush.



Step 1: Open the image and make the selection using the selection tool you prefer


Open the image and select the region you would like to apply the preset to using the selection tool of your choice. Depending upon the selection type and image used, it is much easier to make selections using different tools like Magic Wand Tool (where the color of the selection is distinct) or Lasso Tools (where you intend to make precise selections).

In this particular example if we use the default quick selection tool, it would take quite some time as we would have to select the sky visible under every arch of the monument, part-by-part. Moreover, it would be cumbersome to make small selections using the Quick Selection Tool. Hence, it would be much quicker and precise if we use the Magic Wand Tool. 


Using the Magic Wand Tool, it is easier to make color based selections. If the selection is not accurate, changing the tolerance settings often leads to better results.


Step 2: Add an Adjustment Layer to the Image 


Add an Adjustment Layer to the image – you may select any Adjustment Layer  type in this step, as it will be modified in the next step.  In this particular example, we have added the Levels Adjustment Layer.


(You can do this through the Layers Menu:  Layer -> New Adjustment Layer -> Levels…)


Step 3: Add the desired Smart Brush Preset


The last and final step - Select the Smart Brush Tool, and in the pop-up that appears select the preset you would like to add.

In this example, we have used the Sunset preset.


You will notice that the Levels Adjustment Layer added above is replaced by the adjustment layer of the preset selected. In the example, we notice that the ‘Levels 1’ Adjustment layer is now changed to ‘Sunset 1’.

You can tweak the opacity settings of the layer to a value which suits your picture. Here we have changed it to 55% as it works best for this picture.

Here’s how the final output looks – The sunset effect gives a new and fresh look to the picture.

This is a simple three step process whereby we can combine any selection tool with Smart Brush presets. This is a quick solution that works with all selection types as well as all presets of Smart Brush.  


About the Author

Priyanka Azad is working as a Quality Engineer for Photoshop Elements. She has been with the team for about two years and was a part of Photoshop Elements versions 7.0 and 8.0. She is also Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop CS4. 


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