Fill and Outline Selections in Photoshop Elements - dummies

Fill and Outline Selections in Photoshop Elements

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

At times, you might want to create an element on your Photoshop Elements canvas that can’t quite be created with a brush or pencil stroke. Maybe it’s a perfect circle or a five-point star. If you have a selection, you can fill or stroke that selection to create that element, rather than draw or paint it on.

The Fill command adds a color or a pattern to the entire selection, whereas the Stroke command applies the color to only the edge of the selection border.

You won’t find a Fill tool on the Tools panel. Elements decided to avoid the overpopulated panel and placed the Fill and Stroke commands on the Edit menu.

  1. Grab the selection tool of your choice and create your selection on a new layer.

    Although you don’t have to create a new layer to make a selection to fill, it is recommended. That way, if you don’t like the filled selection, you can delete the layer, and your image or background below it remains safe.

  2. Select either the foreground or background color and then choose a fill color.

  3. Choose Edit→Fill Selection.

    The Fill Layer dialog box appears:


    If you want to bypass the Fill Layer dialog box (and the rest of these steps), you can use these handy keyboard shortcuts instead:

    • To fill the selection with the foreground color, press Alt+Backspace (Option+Delete on the Mac).

    • To fill it with the background color, press Ctrl+Backspace (Cmd+Delete on the Mac).

  4. Choose your desired fill from the Use drop-down menu.

    You can select whether to fill with the foreground or background color. You also can choose Color, Pattern, Black, 50% Gray, or White. If you select Color, you’re transported to the Color Picker. If you choose Pattern, you must then choose a pattern from the Custom Pattern drop-down panel.

    If you don’t have an active selection border in your image, the command says Fill Layer and your entire layer is filled with your color or pattern.

  5. In the Blending area, specify whether to preserve transparency, which enables you to fill only the portions of the selection that contain pixels (the nontransparent areas).

    Although you can also choose a blend mode (how the fill color interacts with colors below it) and opacity percentage, it’s better not to adjust your blend mode and opacity in the Fill Layer dialog box. Make those adjustments on your layer later, by using the Layers panel commands, where you have more flexibility for editing.

  6. Click OK.

    The color or pattern fills the selection.