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Grokking The Gimp
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3.5 Using Selections Effectively

This section begins the discussion of how to effectively use the selection tools presented in this chapter. The full story, however, won't be completed until we cover masks in Chapter  4.

3.5.1 General Selection Tool Guidelines

This chapter has presented the six selection tools from the Toolbox as well as the By Color selection tool. This leaves you with quite a few choices. So, the question naturally arises, ``Which is the best tool to use?'' This section summarizes the tools discussed so far and describes their strengths and weaknesses.

The order of the summary is from the most useful selection tool to the least:

  • Bezier Path : Of the seven choices, this is the most useful selection tool because it is the most flexible and the most versatile. Combined with the associated tools available in the Paths dialog, this is the selection tool that will usually get the job done in the least amount of time.

    The Bezier Path selection tool is not, however, a panacea. When the selection subject's boundary is not smooth, it is impractical to use the Bezier Path tool. Examples of difficult selections with this tool would be the image of a leafy tree or one of a woman's hair blowing in the breeze. For these types of selections, other approaches are necessary (see Chapter  4).

  • Lasso  : Although this tool is not useful for precision selection work, it is probably still the next most useful selection tool. The Lasso is the best selection tool when only a rough selection is needed. Good examples of using the Lasso to separate image elements is illustrated in Sections  4.5.3 and 7.4.

  • Rectangle Select : This selection tool is about as useful as the Lasso. However, it is used for very different reasons. This tool is valuable for framing (see Section  2.6.2) and for the selective application of filters and gradients to layer edges (see, for example, Section  7.5.3).

  • By Color : This selection tool is most useful for making selections in images that have several regions that consist of an almost uniform color. Examples of this would be trying to select a large-font, solid-color text on a photographic image background or a complicated bitmapped image. See Section  8.6 for a practical example.

  • Ellipse Select : This tool, like Rectangle Select, is also used for framing. An example of using Ellipse Select in this way is shown in Section  3.1.2. It is also occasionally useful for selecting shapes that are known to be elliptical or circular, such as the clock illustrated in Section  3.5.4. This tool, however, is used less often than Rectangle Select.

  • Magic Wand  : This tool is based on a great concept but is difficult to use in practice. Fortunately, there is another technique based on almost the same idea but producing results with much greater control and flexibility. This technique is based on the Threshold tool, which is described in more detail in Section  4.5.3.

  • Intelligent Scissors : In principle this tool should be good at selecting shapes that do not have smooth outlines, the shapes that are difficult for the Bezier Path tool. Unfortunately, the performance of this tool is poor and I, personally, never use it. I rank this tool as the least useful for making selections.

Grokking The Gimp
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