How to Use the Marquee Options in Photoshop CS6

You may want to look at the marquee settings provided by the Options bar in Photoshop CS6, if drawing from the center outward or creating a perfect circle or square doesn’t give you enough control. These options allow you to make selections that are even more precise by specifying exact measurements.

You must select the options on the Options bar before you make your selection with the Marquee tools.

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Here’s the lowdown on each of the remaining options:

  • Feather: Feathering softens, or feathers, the edges of a selection. The amount of softening depends on the radius — the higher the radius, the softer the edge. The radius measures how far in all directions the feather effect extends.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/cmannphoto Image #13097406]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/cmannphoto Image #13097406

    You can use feathering to create a subtle and natural transition between selections or to create a special effect in which an image slowly fades out to the background or to transparency. To feather while you’re selecting, select the Feather option on the Options bar before you use the Marquee tools. You can feather a selection after the fact by using the Select→Modify submenu.

  • Anti-alias: Whereas feathering completely blurs edges, anti-aliasing just slightly softens the edge of an elliptical selection so that very hard, jagged edges aren’t quite so prominent. You don’t have an option in which you can enter a pixel value for anti-aliasing. An anti-aliased edge is always 1 pixel wide.

    For the most part, keeping the Anti-alias option selected, especially if you plan to create composite images. Anti-aliasing helps create natural-looking blends between multiple selections. However, if want a crisp, linear edge, deselect this option.

    [Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/ThomasVogel Image #16903723]
    Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/ThomasVogel Image #16903723
  • Style: The Style pop-up menu contains these three settings:

    • Normal: This setting enables you to freely drag a selection to any desired dimension.

    • Fixed Ratio: This option allows you to specify a ratio of width to height in a selection. For example, if you enter 2 for width and 1 for height, you always get a marquee selection that’s twice as wide as it is high, no matter what the size. If you enter 1 for both dimensions, you get perfect circles or squares.

    • Fixed Size: Select this option to specify exact values for the Width and Height. This option comes in handy when several images need to be the same exact size, such as in a row of headshots in a corporate brochure.

  • Width and Height: When you select a Fixed Size from the Stylepop-up menu, you can enter values in the Width and Height text boxes. To swap the Width and Height values, click the double-headed arrow button.

    Even though the default unit of measurement in the Width and Height text boxes is pixels, you can enter any unit of measurement that Photoshop recognizes — pixels, inches, centimeters, millimeters, points, picas, or percents. After the number, simply type the word or abbreviation of your desired unit of measurement. Photoshop even lets you enter mixed units of measurements, so if you want a selection 100 pixels by 1.25 inches, you can specify that.

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