A Beginner’s Guide To Lasso Tool In Photoshop

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Do you at times have trouble editing a serrated margin on your images? Or, have you ever struggled with finding your way around drawing an odd curve while editing your photos? If the answer to these questions is yes, then using the Lasso tool in Photoshop could put your worries to rest. True to its name, this Photoshop tool helps you capture a shape accurately and with greater ease. You can use this selection tool to draw an outline around your subject, objects, or any other element in your image. What’s even better, this feature offers much more than just making your usual rectangular or elliptical outlines and selections. Just like a lasso is used for catching cattle, you can use this tool to capture any shapes that you want and separate it from the rest of your image. If you think that the Marquee tool is good enough to serve the purpose, think of all the extrusions and protrusions that might be too much to handle for it. That’s when the Lasso tool can play a part and simplify your work by allowing you to select uneven and highly irregular shapes. And the bonus? Photoshop has not one, two, but three of them – the original Lasso, the Magnetic Lasso, and the Polygonal Lasso. In this Photoshop tutorial, we take you through each of them and tell you ways to optimally use them for the best photo editing experience.

Why Use The Lasso Tool

Infographic stating draw outlines and make selections around irregular shapes.

When it comes to selection tools in Photoshop, the Marquee tool is suitable for selecting rectangles and circles. Want to make selections based on colors and tones? Using the Magic Wand tool could be ideal. However, the Lasso tool helps you perform a host of activities while editing your images on Photoshop. It allows you to draw and make selections around irregular shapes. In fact, this feature not only allows you to draw a free-form border around your chosen object or area within an image but also gives you the liberty to soften the edges of your selection. What’s more, it lets you add the feather effect and is even helpful for anti-aliasing. That’s not all. In two minds about the object you’ve selected in the image? With the help of the Lasso tool, you can also remove the selection you’ve made. This could come in handy while eliminating unwanted elements from your photos. Want to remove a person who has photo-bombed your images? Just use it again to get them out of the way! Worried about an unwanted object in the background spoiling your beautiful frame? Use it again!

Related Read: Tutorial: How To Use The Magic Wand Tool In Photoshop

The Three Lasso Tools In Photoshop

As the original Lasso tool performs basic functions, Photoshop offers two more Lasso options to its users to make the selection process easier for them. You will find all three within the Lasso tool option. You could also press L on your keyboard to access the same. Pressing Shift + L will allow you to switch between the three tools.

1. Lasso Tool

Selecting Lasso tool in Photoshop
Image Courtesy: ShootDotEdit Customer

To use this basic version, you can simply click on a starting point on your image and drag your cursor around your chosen object to draw a path. The Lasso Tool will follow the movements of your mouse all the way back to the starting point. The tool will create a selection that you will be able to use for layer masks or isolating your object from the rest of the image. You can either completely remove this selected patch to add something new or copy and paste it on another image. However, before you make a selection, don’t forget to go to your upper setting bar and adjust the Feather radius values. If you want a sharp edge around your selection, you can leave the Feather value set at 0px. But, if you want a soft and blurred-out edge, increasing the feather radius to 20px or 30px could be helpful. Also, make sure that you’ve chosen New Selection as your selection type by clicking on the solid-colored square icon.

2. Magnetic Lasso Tool

Selecting magnetic lasso tool
Image Courtesy: ShootDotEdit Customer @infiniteloopphoto

If you don’t see the Magnetic Lasso in the menu when you click on the Lasso tool icon, click again and hold on it until the option appears. You could also press on Shift + L to access it. Now, choose New Selection and set the Feather value. Compared to the original Lasso tool, the Magnetic Lasso is a little more automated. Instead of you having to draw your selection manually, this tool automatically snaps the path to the edge as long as you are going along well-defined edges. To turn your cursor into a selection brush icon, you can simply press the Caps Lock key while using the Magnetic Lasso. To be more precise with your selection, you can increase or decrease the size of the brush by pressing on the square bracket keys – [ or ]. Since some objects or areas of your image could have subtle differences in color or exposure compared to the background, you may choose to keep the Contrast value low. This will help the Magnetic Lasso to work well even on edges that have minimum variance in terms of color. Next, you may increase the Frequency if your object has edges that change directions. A low frequency could be fine for objects that have straight edges. You will find both these options in the upper settings bar.

3. Polygonal Lasso Tool

Selecting polygonal lasso tool
Image Courtesy: ShootDotEdit Customer @robbmccormickphotography

If you want to cut out or remove a box-shaped object from your image or something that has flat edges, the Polygonal Lasso could be a perfect fit for you. This tool creates straight lines between points that you mark with each click of your mouse. For example, you can click on a point to begin marking your path and then drag your cursor to another point so as to create another anchor point for your path. Once you’ve clicked on both these points with the Polygonal Lasso selected, you will see a straight line drawn between them. Once again, make sure your feather radius is set according to the type of edges you want and you’ve chosen New Selection before you begin to draw the path with this tool.

How To Delete The Selection Path

There could be times when you’ve made a selection path but want to delete it midway. In this case, just press the Esc key on your keyboard. This will remove the path and you’ll be able to begin again. However, if you’ve already made a selection and want to get rid of it at this point, you can hit the Control + D keys on PC or Command + D on Mac to deselect your active selection.

Further Read: How To Blur Edges In Photoshop In 4 Easy Steps

The Lasso tool from the Photoshop arsenal is a good selection tool to capture outlines of figures and images, especially when you have odd and uneven edges to draw and isolate. Understanding when to use which one out of the three options could make it easier for you to get the best results for your images. If you find it difficult to get it right the first time, you could zoom in to your images to get a clear view of your selection paths. And you could always delete and redraw the lines when needed. All you need is some practice and patience. For more image editing tips, you can take a look at our other Lightroom and Photoshop blogs. For everything else photography-related, click here.

At ShootDotEdit, we love sharing tips and tricks to help you hone your skills as a wedding photographer. We also offer professional photo editing services that match your style so that you can focus on perfecting your art and growing your business while we take care of your post-production workload. To learn more about our services, check out our pricing plans.

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