Cool Photoshop Selection Tip

Sometimes is very easy to create perfect selection in Photoshop and other times you will need several hours or days depending on complexity and priority. There are so many ways to create selections which can be saved as Alpha Channels. Sometimes selection requires multiple Alpha channels which will be combined later by adding, subtracting or intersecting them. Sounds complex? It is actually but there is a way to work with selection in multiple passes and to have only one Alpha channel without to think what is saved on each channel and how to combine them in order to achieve desired result. This is very useful especially when you work with selection in multiple passes or during longer period. There is nothing to remember or to check, everything is on one Alpha channel and very clear how far you proceeded with selection and what else need to be selected.

How to save selection in Photoshop

First step in this cool feature in Photoshop is to save selection as New Alpha Channel. Create selection using any of available selection tools and methods. When you have marching ants which represents selected area which will be revealed area in selection by the way (white color on your later mask), go to Select > Save Selection. In Save Selection dialog type some name for your new Alpha Channel in Name text field and click OK button.
Save selection as new Alpha channel in Adobe Photoshop
Save selection as new Alpha channel in Adobe Photoshop

Add, Subtract or Intersect with saved Alpha channel (selection)

At this point you can save your file in PSD format and close it, or to continue to work with selection. If you decide to save work, saved Alpha Channel will be available and after one day, week or year. To continue with your selection you can use selection tools to add to existing selection (when you save selection marching ants will stay on place) or to deselect everything and start creating new selection. Exactly same thing you can do with saved PSD file. Lets say you have opened file with saved Alpha Channel, there are two things you can do: to load selection on screen (Ctrl/Cmd + click on Alpha Channel or Select > Load Selection) if you prefer to work in that way or to start from scratch creating new selection over area that need to be added, subtracted or intersected with existing selection saved as Alpha Channel. In this example I will select another part of the image which need to be added to existing selection. After creating selection again go to Select > Save Selection and this time choose from Channel drop down list name of Alpha Channel which you have previously saved, then choose in Operation section what you want to do: to Replace Channel, Add to Channel, Subtract from Channel or Intersect with Channel. Click OK button to confirm and exit dialog.
Add, Subtract or Intersect with existing Alpha channel in Photoshop
Add, Subtract or Intersect with existing Alpha channel in Photoshop

Again, you can continue to work with selection at this point of time or to save file and continue to work with selection at any time you want in the very same way: After creating selection just go to Select > Save Selection and repeat previously mentioned steps.

How to create layer mask from Alpha channel

When you finish with selection go to Select > Load Selection and choose from Channel drop-down menu name of Alpha Channel you have created then click OK button. After loading selection in Photoshop below CS6 ensure you are not at Background layer (drag padlock icon to trash can or duplicate Background layer with Ctrl + J) then click Add layer mask button at bottom of Layers panel to create layer mask.

Photoshop / Saving selections and alpha channel masks
Product used in this tutorial: Adobe Photoshop CS5


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