15 Replies Latest reply on Jun 11, 2010 3:07 PM by chicagonature

    Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"

    chicagonature Level 1

      Selection Zones allow you to make a selection and then refine your selection even further from what you've already selected.

      Protection Zones exclude areas that you do not want to be used in a selection. A Protection Zone is the area outside a Selection Zone and vice versa.


      Here are some examples of how you could use them:


      Problem: I'm using the magic wand and I want to make a selection of the sky which ranges from a very light blue to a much darker blue. However, there is color fringing in the trees that make the branches a darker blue, too. I begin by selecing the light blue in the sky, which includes all those litte "holes" between the leaves, branches, and those tricky dark blue branches. But, when I go to select the darker blue portion of the sky, the dark blue branches are also selected ruining the previous work. This cannot be done with 2 separate selections then merging them because you end up with the same problem.


      New Feature "Protection Zone": PROTECT the original selection by drawing a "Protection Zone" around the originally selected area so that the dark blue branches are  also protected against being selected. The "Protection Zone" could also be a previous selection (but not in this case).


      This feature can be used after you make an initial selection to protect it. Or, you can make a "Protected Selection" right off the bat to exclude a certain area from future selections.


      With this feature, you would solve our original problem by first making the selection of the light sky. Draw a rough Protection Zone around the area of the selection that includes the dark blue branches. Then, make 2nd selection using magic wand of the darker sky to add it.


      A very simply example would be if you had a handful of blue flowers in the prairie that you wanted to select, but there is a blue sky above of a similar tone. You would first draw a rough protection zone around the sky to exclude it from the selection and then move ahead with a selection the flowers with the magic wand.


      New Feature "Selection Zone": When you create a selection zone, anything within the zone is fair game. Anything outside of the zone is excluded or protected (the Protecion Zone).


      So, in the last example, we had only one type of blue flower. But, what if there were two species of blue flowers and you only wanted to select the blue in one of them? You could simply draw rough selections around the flowers of the species that you want to change (using Shift-Click to add several selections). Then, convert this rough selection into a Selection Zone. Then, you can use the Magic Wand tool to select only those tones within the Selection Zone.


      Now, let's say that you had a situation where you got really really close to the selection you wanted, but the selection you ended up with in the Selection Zone with the Magic Wand tool needs further refining. For instance, within the Selection Zone there are some unwanted blues in some wet leaves that reflect the blue sky that were selected. So, you would now redraw a new winding and turning Selection Zone around the current Magic Wand selection that would exclude those blue leaves. And, you'd end up with only the blues selected in the flowers that remain from the Magic Wand selection. In this case, you have a very fast way of deselecting certain things.



      Essentially, you can make a selection, convert that selection into a Selection Zone, and then refine the selection even more within the Selection Zone. You can repeat as often as you wish.


      This makes for a very nice way for refining selections in a kind of hierarchical manner as if you wanted to refine the results of a search. You'd do a database search and, from those results, do another search.


      I've been wanting this feature for many years.




        • 1. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
          Level 7

          Have you read the documentation on how to add to selections, subtract from selections, and intersect with selections?

          That functionality has been in Photoshop quite a while, and would seem to address most of your request.

          • 2. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
            retouchMOJO Level 1

            Hey Mike, not to bash on what appears to be an idea you have put a lot 

            thought into, and a lot of time into making clear in your post, but...

            It sounds like this is all easily accomplished now in color range and 

            layer masking.


            Try lassoing the area that contains the colors you DO want to select, 

            then use color range and it will be restricted to the lasso'd area.

            • 3. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
              chicagonature Level 1

              Hi Chris,


              I know Add & Subtract and I use them frequently. But, are you quite sure that everything I described can be done with Add/Subtract/Intersect (ASI)?


              It really does not do the same thing as I'm suggesting. Plus ASI is a pain because you have to deal with masks and selections and it's kind of like jumping through hoops.


              My examples may not be perfect, but later on in my description, I talk about hierarchical selections where you make a selection and then you can select with that selection to better refine it. For instance, you'd make a selection (often using Magic Wand or Color Range). Then, you'd convert that selection into a SELECTION ZONE in order to INCLUDE ONLY THE AREA WITHIN THE SELECTION ZONE for future selections. Then, you can make other Magic Wand or Color Range (or any other selection tool) selections within that critical area and nowhere else.


              A way to think of it is that you are choosing an area within which you will apply a selection function. You are providing constraints which can be based on simply drawing an initial boundary. Or, you can make a selection and use that initial selection as the boundary. This is much, much different than ASI.


              I am working selections all the time. I work with very big files with the hardest kinds of selections that require high precision and natural looks due to the large print sizes. But, I also shoot nature and complex wildflower and prairie shots that also include skies with trees and branches at the boundary--not some smooth mountain and sky transition. That's easy.


              In the past, I found a bug with multi-layer TIF files that were losing all their adjustment layers. I sent you a DVD of the files and you fixed them and fixed Photoshop, too. So, I'm usually someone who takes things to the brink and go where few have ventured. Hence, I find bugs and also run into problems that are difficult to solve.


              Please let me know if you get where I'm coming from on this.




              • 4. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                chicagonature Level 1

                Hi Michael,


                So, are you saying that you could also do this?


                1) Use Color Range to make a selection

                2) Make the selection active, then Apply Color Range again within that Selection in order to for instance, restrict the selection even further.

                3) Then, if need be, use Add/Subtract/Intersect.


                I'll have to think about this more to see if that'd solve all my selection issues.


                Still, if you can create a SELECTION ZONE area, you could then apply any number of selection tools to that area without the worry of straying outside of it.


                Somehow I think my idea presents a very intuitive approach, unless I have my thinking wrong (which sometimes happens). I mean, if you can simply click and select and Zone and select and select and Zone, it'd all be happening in one simple and fluid workflow.


                Again, I'll have to think about this. But, maybe someone will stop by and have a much stronger example about how my idea could be applied where it would otherwise be impossible or very clunky to do it currently.


                But, again, I might be missing something.


                Thanks for your thoughts!



                • 5. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                  Level 7

                  Refinement is what you do with add/subtract/intersecting selections.

                  Using QuickSelect mode, you can do even more.


                  So far, I'm not seeing any added functionality with your suggestion.

                  • 6. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                    chicagonature Level 1

                    Hi Chris,


                    The main feature my idea is that you can define and area and then make new selections within that area. It's completely different from refining borders, edges, etc.


                    The big problem with magic wand and color range are that they are "global" or "contiguous" with nothing in between. I need a setting that might be called "LOCAL."


                    The bottom line is when adding to an existing selection with Magic Wand ends up adding way too much info and ruining the selection. This idea constrains the global-ness of a selection to a confined area.


                    Let's say you have a blue sky with white clouds above a prairie of wildflowers that extend into the sky along with a treeline in the distance with "sky holes" in between the branches and leaves. The flowers that extend into the sky are white.


                    So, using Magic Wand set to "GLOBAL," you make a selection of the blue in the sky. Let's say that all the blue sky is selected even between the white flower petals and branches of the trees. Now, you need to select the white clouds without selecting the flowers. So, you click "CONTIGUOUS" and then click on the clouds. However, the flowers are extending into the sky, so they are being selected, too. Therefore, there needs to be a way to simply tell Photoshop that I only want to select the white clouds in this area over here (which also could extend between the branches of the trees, too). This creates a local zone.




                    • 7. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                      retouchMOJO Level 1

                      Stop thinking about selections as purely those areas within marching ants, and start thinking of channel information as containing most of what you need. Create masks with channels and all the other selection methods.... it's all there.

                      • 8. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                        chicagonature Level 1

                        I duplicate channels to create new masks and use Curves/Levels/Gaussian Blur on those masks. I create CMYK channels from RGB in order to get a better mask. I add/subtract/intersect. I do lots of things. Yet, I don't think it's all there.


                        I use the new Quick Selection tool and it cannot do the job that I need done. Yes, it'll work on a woman with a blurry background. That's easy. I tried it on a sky with faint branches and leaves and it fails miserably.


                        Refine Edges just refines the edges. It does not help with redefining the selection.


                        Right now, at this very moment, I'm using Color Range to DESELECT the color of a grass blade that is crossing into the blue sky. But, it must have some blue in it because when I deselect the color, it also removes that same blue from another area of the sky. And this is my point. I should be able to make a rough SELECTION ZONE around the grass blade and for additional SELECTION (or deselection, in this case). Then, when click on the grass blade color and it'll only deselect those colors in that area and not interfere with the wider selection.


                        I know that you are saying it's easy and it's already there in Photoshop. But, it's not.


                        I think I'm a pretty sophisticated user of selections. It could be that the selections I work on are require far more precision or difficulty than what you're used to. But, I've tried everything and this idea is a good one until you can actually show me how you can do what I need with what's already there. And, it should be fairly straightforward.




                        • 9. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                          retouchMOJO Level 1

                          Mike, google my name and look at what I do. I can also be found in 

                          NAPP user portfolios. I think you'll see that my work involves 

                          selections heavily.


                          Check out some of the Total Training and Lynda.com advanced selection 

                          technique video.


                          Michael Lamy

                          • 10. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                            chicagonature Level 1



                            So, what is this forum about? Is it about coming up with new ideas or is it about challenging the veracity and experience of the idea holder? It seems to be about retaining the status quo and trying to make contributors feel stupid. Good for you. You can do it. Great. Contratulations.


                            I, too, can ALWAYS make my selections and figure them out, one way or another. I was just suggesting an extremely simple idea that would be 10,000 times easier than the super complex and slow-running Refine Mask.


                            Who cares if there's a solution, if it's always difficult. I want Adobe to come up with new ways to save me time. I want easy. I want the tedium reduced. I work with very big files that require perfect selections. How about 30x40" at 360 dpi where you can see every imperfection? When you're doing this combined with very random and detailed nature images, let me know.


                            I'm not interested in using brushes and painting out all the little details over hundreds of little areas. I'm interested in a fast way of getting very, very close to begin with.


                            My idea is a good one because it improves upon what's already there. Adobe is all overly infatuated about its Refine Mask function. But, it's tedious and I can always get a better result in much faster time without it. I run an Intel I7 Processor at 3.2 GHz with 16GB of RAM and the Refine Mask is slow on the 346MB layer.


                            The idea I proposed has merit and is very easy to use without a lot of BS or requiring a BS, MS, or Ph.D. The Refine Mask option requires a ton of experience to figure out and the results only get you most of the way there, which is what I already do right now without it. The only examples I see are those that work on women with a blurry or single-colored backgrounds. That's not my application. Mine is significantly more difficult and the idea that I propose can help reduce the tedium that I'm experiencing.



                            • 11. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                              retouchMOJO Level 1

                              Mike, Sorry if my suggetions come accross as an effort to maintain 

                              status quo. And I in no way mean to belittle your suggestion. I 

                              personally don't see anything new in what you are asking for so my 

                              intent was to challenge you to use what is there mmire deeply. I think 

                              Chris also offered input in that regard. I hope we are all pleasantly 

                              surprised by something new bourne out of your ideas.


                              Michael Lamy

                              • 12. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                                Reynolds (Mark) Level 4

                                ChicagoNature - you are asking for "embedded selctions" - allowing Wand type selections to be created, ignoring or including predefined areas. ie. existing selections


                                The functionality really does exist already in a series of different ways…


                                1. To get the Magic Wand to work in the exactly way you want, use this workaround: Command J your 1st active selection, putting it onto a new layer. Then use the wand with "sample all layers" unchecked. Part of the process, including deleting the "dummy" layer - can be Actioned.


                                2. Color Range works, only delivering its result within whatever is selected to begin with. Color Range is probably the best tool for your task because you refer to 'fringing". If you want to sharpen those soft edges to cruder Magic Wand type selections - then just use Quick mask (Q) and Levels (Command L).  Again all Actionable.


                                3. Quick Mask or Alpha Channels can be used to build complex selections very easily.


                                As you have probably already spotted, the inaccurately entitled "Quick Select" tool is far too slow for high res images. And as a result is a more or less useless tool introduced in CS3. Which was roughly the point at which likable, but highly inexperienced Photoshop 'dudes' started making decisions about new feature development.

                                • 13. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                                  Shadow Oak

                                  Hi Mike,


                                  > The main feature my idea is that you can define and area and then make  new selections within that area.

                                  Like suggestion from previous e-mail, with Color Range, it will work inside the previously selected/defined area.


                                  Since CS4, Color Range also had additional capability of controlling the spread of the selection spatially.  You can do it by first enabling "Localized Color Clusters" option and click on the image to enable the "Range" control. In this way, the clicks will define the center the location to control spatially how far the selection will spread from the center. Hope these new functions will be of some help.



                                  • 14. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"

                                    First off let me say creating a simpler and better way to create selections sounds like a good idea.  Even tho what you are asking can already be done, using masks, channels and so fourth.


                                    I understand that you are trying for adobe to re-look at the current method and try to challenge them to create a better method and in those regards I agree with you...  Trying to rethink an old method to see how you can improve upon it is the fundamental thinking of true innovations.  But if this zone creation doesn't pan out please understand that even with trying to rethink a solution and the formulating that solution to work better may not be better and simply fail.


                                    But Like I said I like this idea... It could actually compliment Adobe's new selection engine.

                                    • 15. Re: Selections using "Selection Zones" & "Protection Zones"
                                      chicagonature Level 1



                                      Thanks to everyone for your input.


                                      And, GusDoeMatik, thanks for getting my point, which is to merely suggest a potentially simpler way of doing something even though the problems can be solved using other selection techniques. My approach may be more accessible for people who are not experts and who don't know every single selection and masking technique.


                                      Unfortunately, this is a case where those who are evaluating the idea are more advanced users and probably engineers and programmers, too. But, engineers or programmers are notorious for designing things that are not user-friendly and it'd be good to hear from less experienced users, too. I used to be a programmer (Fortran, PL1, scientific applications), but hopefully I'm one of the self-aware ones.