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The Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements – Instructions

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A picture of a user making a selection with the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements.

Overview of How to Use the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements:

            The Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements gives a more natural feel of painting on a canvas when making a selection. With this tool, you can either paint the pixels you want to select or the pixels you don’t want to select. To use the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements, choose the Selection Brush Tool from the Toolbox and, if necessary, the Tool Options Bar.

            In the Tool Options Bar, select whether the tool will add or subtract from the selection by clicking the desired “Add to selection” or “Subtract from selection” button. The default behavior is “Add.” To choose whether to apply a selection or a mask to the pixels to select, use the “View as a selection or a mask” drop-down to the right of that. Choose “Selection” to paint pixels to select or “Mask” to paint pixels to not select.

            If you choose “Mask,” you must also choose an overlay color. An overlay is a layer of color, shown on the screen only, that shows unselected areas. You can use the default red color or choose your own by clicking into the Color Picker that appears. In addition, you must also select an overlay opacity by using the “Overlay” slider or entering a percentage into the adjacent field. Finally, select a brush from the Brush Presets Picker, choose a brush size, and adjust the hardness.

            Then paint the pixels to select or not select in the image, depending upon which mode you chose. As you paint in Selection mode, a selection border appears. Every brush stroke adds to the selection. If you accidentally select pixels you don’t want to include, press the “Alt” key on your keyboard and paint over the mistakenly selected area.

A picture of a user making a selection with the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements.

A picture of a user making a selection with the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements.

            If you choose to paint in Mask mode, remember you are choosing the pixels you don’t want to select. To turn your mask into a selection border when you are done painting in Mask mode, choose “Selection” from the “Mode” drop-down or choose another tool in the Toolbox.

Instructions on How to Use the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements:

  1. To use the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements, choose the Selection Brush Tool from the Toolbox and, if necessary, the Tool Options Bar.
  2. In the Tool Options Bar, select whether the tool will add or subtract from the selection by clicking the desired “Add to selection” or “Subtract from selection” button
  3. To choose whether to apply a selection or a mask to the pixels to select, use the “View as a selection or a mask” drop-down to the right of that.
  4. To paint the pixels to select, choose “Selection.”
  5. Alternatively, to paint the pixels to not select, choose “Mask.”
  6. If you choose “Mask,” you must also choose an overlay color, which shows the unselected areas. You can use the default red color or choose your own by clicking into the Color Picker that appears.
  7. Additionally, you must also select an overlay opacity by using the “Overlay” slider or entering a percentage into the adjacent field.
  8. For either setting choice, then select a brush from the Brush Presets Picker, choose a brush size, and adjust the hardness.
  9. Use this tool to paint the pixels to select or not select in the image, depending upon which mode you chose.
  10. As you paint in Selection mode, a selection border appears. Every brush stroke adds to the selection.
  11. If you accidentally select pixels you don’t want to include, press the “Alt” key on your keyboard and paint over the mistakenly selected area.
  12. If you choose to paint in Mask mode, remember you are choosing the pixels you don’t want to select.
  13. To turn your mask into a selection border when finished painting in Mask mode, choose “Selection” from the “Mode” drop-down list or choose another tool in the Toolbox.

Video Lesson on How to Use the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements:

            The following video lesson, titled “The Selection Brush Tool,” shows how to use the Selection Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements. This video lesson is from our complete Photoshop Elements tutorial, titled “Mastering Photoshop Elements Made Easy v.2022.”

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