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This week I was asked by a new digital scrapbooking enthusiast to explain the Marquee Tools in Photoshop.  Those of us who have been using Photoshop for any length of time use these tools routinely and, most likely, without much thought.  But as I reflected upon my beginning experience with Photoshop, I recall being confused by the different options that are available once a Marquee Tool is selected.  So let’s take a look at what Photoshop offers us with this simple but powerful tool. Hopefully, this will be a reminder for frequent PS users, and helpful for new users.

For the purposes of this tutorial I am using Photoshop CS6; however, what I will cover today should be the same in all versions of CS and most, if not all, versions of Photoshop Elements (PSE).  (Please note that PSE does not offer the Single Row or the Single Column Marquee Tool.)

The Marquee Tools are located in the vertical tool bar.  Notice the small black triangle in the lower right corner of the tool icon, which indicates that this is a grouping of similar tools.  We can click on or hover over the triangle to see what tools are available within a group.  Once a specific tool is selected, its icon will be reflected in the toolbar.  That icon will change when another Marquee Tool is selected. In the image below, you will see that the last Marquee Tool I used was the Elliptical Marquee.  You will know that because the Elliptical Marquee Tool icon is visible in the toolbar.  You will also note that with the Marquee Tool Group (in CS), there are 4 Marquee Tools available:  Rectangular, Elliptical, Single Row, and Single Column.


To use a Marquee Tool after it is chosen, you simply need to click on an open document, and while holding the mouse button down, drag out the shape you would like to have as a selection.  Once the selection is made, release the mouse, and you will see “marching ants,” which indicate the area that has become a selection.


When using the Rectangular and Elliptical Tools, we are not constrained to any particular size.  We can create the height and/or width of our selection according to our needs.

However, if you would like to constrain the proportions of your Rectangular or Elliptical selections, there’s an easy way to do it.  Once you have selected the tool you wish to use, click on your document.  While holding your mouse button down, depress and  hold down Shift + Alt at the same time.  Drag out your shape, then release all keys and mouse button. (Be sure to click on the document first, before clicking/holding Shift + Alt, or this will not work.)


The Single Row and the Single Column Marquee Tools will give you a selection, just one pixel in width. Personally, I rarely use either of these Tools.

Now let’s take a look at the options we have in the top Options Bar.  We can add to, subtract from, or intersect our selections. This is what I recall was most confusing for me as a new Photoshop user.


The first icon in the red circle above indicates a New Selection.  When we hover over the second icon, we see that the description is “Add to selection.”  To use this option, create your first selection; next click on the “Add to selection” icon; then click on your working document and drag out your second selection (overlapping your selections). Once you release the mouse, after making your second selection, the two selections will be joined.  Here’s an example:


The same principle is true of the next option, which is “Subtract from selection.”  If we had chosen that option in the above example, the result would look like this:


The final option is “Intersect with selection,” and the result of choosing that option would look like this (the portion of the circles that overlapped, or intersected, becoming the active selection):


Using the options in the Options Bar can be really helpful to create specific or unusual shapes. It is also helpful if you create a section and then decide to add to or subtract from it.  Rather than deselecting, and starting all over, just choose the add-to or subtract-from options and finish your selection.

In the image below, I missed selecting the elf’s foot, so I would chose the “add to selection” to select it and make the selection of my elf complete.


There are a few other choices we can make in the Options Bar, and we will cover those next week.  I hope this tutorial has been helpful for those who are new to Photoshop, and a good review for those of us who have been using Photoshop for a while.

Credit: The elf in the image above is from Holiday Hoopla, a collaboration between Kimberkatt Scraps and SnickerdoodleDesigns.  Visit theStudio’s Christmas  in July category to pick up this and other Christmas kits at a savings of 50% thru July 31st!

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For the past few weeks, we have been looking at Photoshop Styles.  Here are links to past tutorials, in case you missed one:

Many of you have written to tell me that you like that I include, what I call, Style Strips in my Styles products.  Many of you have also asked how to make your own Style Strips for Styles you own or ones that purchase from other designers.  It’s very simple to do.  Here’s how:

1. Here is a template that I created for my Style Strips.  There are 6 squares, and each square is on it’s own layer.  You can make your own template with as many or as few squares as you like, or you may download my template for your use at the bottom of this post.


2. Load or install the Photoshop Style that you wish to create a Strip for.

3. Go back to the template and replace the name of each layer (in my preview named “Product Name”) with the name of the Style you wish to create the Style Strip for.

4. With the first layer in the template selected, click on the first Style that is in the Style set you are using. In the image below, you will see that I am creating a Style Strip for my Leather Styles-Set 1, so I have changed the names of my layers to reflect that information.   I have also applied the first Style in this Style Set to the first square.


5.  To complete the Strip, I would just need to click on the next layer (SD_LeatherSet1-2) to make it active, then click on the Leather-Set1-2 Style in the Styles Panel to apply it to the 2nd rectangle (that is on the 2nd layer); then click on Layer 3, and so on.


6.  Once the Strip has been completed, save as a PSD or TIFF, and file it in your choice of places.  I like to keep my Style Strips together with everything else that goes with that product (.asl file, tutorials, and such).

Note:  If you are creating a Strip that has more than 6 Styles in it:  1. Create a new document (size dependent upon how much space you need); drag the original template onto the new document; duplicate the number of layers (squares) that you need; create your Style Strip; crop the transparent pixels on your new document; and save as noted above.

Using Style Strips is helpful when you don’t want to load or install Styles. Just open the PSD (or TIFF, depending upon how the Strip is saved), right click on layer of the Style you want to use and choose the “Copy Layer Style” option.  Right click on the layer you wish to apply the Style to and choose “Apply Layer Style.”  Using Style Strips is especially helpful for those who have Photoshop Elements versions that do not allow “loading” of Styles.

I hope this little trick makes working with Styles easy and convenient for you!

Download my template here, or click on the image below, if you would like to use it.




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Today, let’s continue looking at Pattern Overlays in Photoshop Styles.  If you haven’t been able to join us the past 3 weeks, for your easy reference, here are the links to our recent conversations

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using Photoshop CS6, although I believe it works in most Photoshop versions.  We are unable to access Style Patterns in Photoshop Elements.

Repositioning a Pattern Overlay in a Photoshop Style is very simple to do.   Here’s how:

1. Let’s adjust the Pattern in this Rusted Metal Style.  Making sure the layer is highlighted, double click anywhere in Effects, to bring up the Layer Style option box.



2. Notice in my example that the Bevel & Emboss option is selected.   Click on the Pattern Overlay (left bottom) to make that option active.


3. Leaving the Layer Style box open, go back to your document.  Click on the pattern in your style, and drag it around until you have it positioned as you like.


4.  When you get the pattern positioned how you want it, click OK.


That’s all there is to it!

Let’s look at just 2 ways in which this could be helpful:

1.  Some styles are seamless, meaning that you cannot see where their edges meet. Other styles are NOT seamless.   If you are working with a style that is not seamless, and the shape you wish to apply the style to is larger than the pattern size, you will see the pattern seams.  Here’s what that would look like:


By using the technique explained above, if the pattern is large enough (and this one is), we can drag the pattern around just slightly to hide those seams.  This is what we would end with:


Ahhh… much better!

This technique can also be helpful in another way when we are working with a multi-colored pattern, or a pattern with variation in it.

Here is a Rusted Metal Style that has a lot of variation in both the pattern and the color.  By moving the pattern around, we can utilize all of the different colors and rusty spots.

One style; Four looks!


 That’s it for today!  I hope this tip will enable you to look at the Styles you own in an entirely different light!

Rusted Metal Styles are on Sale (40% off thru July 15th). You will also find hundreds of other Styles in our Commercial Use Store: Photoshop Styles .


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Adjusting the Pattern Size in Photoshop Layer Styles

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 21 June 2014
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Over the past 2 weeks, we have been discussing Photoshop Styles.  In case you missed those posts, you can catch up with us here: Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash Exploring Patterns in Photoshop Styles Today, we are going to explore adjusting pattern sizes in Photoshop Styles.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I am […]

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Exploring Patterns in Photoshop Styles

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 14 June 2014
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Last week we talked about Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash.   Thank you for communicating with us via the Comment Section, which follows each post.  We love hearing your ideas and receiving your input.  Since there were some comments on extracting a designer’s pattern from a set of Styles, let’s explore that a little further […]

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Using Styles to Stretch your Digi-Stash

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 7 June 2014
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I’m a big fan of Photoshop Styles.  I love to create them, use them, and try to convince everyone I know that they’re one of the best Photoshop tools there is!  Today I will show you how you can get some extra mileage out of any Styles you already own, and how to look at […]

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Using Blend Modes in Photoshop

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 31 May 2014

Using Blend Modes in Photoshop gives us many options for creativity.  Blend modes change how two layers interact with one another.  Results depend upon many factors….. which can make using blend modes (somewhat) unpredictable but fun! For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using Photoshop CS6.  The Blend Mode option is located at the […]

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Hand-Tinting Photos in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 24 May 2014
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Last week, we looked at how to “Tone an Image using Gradient Maps.”   Today, let’s explore Gradient Maps just a little more and look, specifically, at one way to easily “hand-tint” an image. This method works equally well in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. As a refresher, to add a Gradient Map, we need to: 1.  […]

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Tone an Image using Gradient Maps

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 17 May 2014
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Today let’s explore Gradient Maps, and how they might be useful in toning our photographic images. I received a text message from my son, Brian, this week.  Attached to the text was this photo of my grandson, Owen, who was at the doctor’s office for his 6 month check-up.  The photo is slightly grainy, having […]

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Adding Colors to the Swatches Panel in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

by SnickerdoodleDesigns 10 May 2014

Over the past few weeks, we have been focusing on “color,” in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  In case you have missed any posts, here is a quick reference for you: Creating a Custom Color Palette in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements How to Easily Recolor an Object in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements Selective Recoloring in Photoshop […]

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