Revision Date: 28 October 2015

Shape Selection Tools Shape Selection Tools

There are three shape selection tools. These tools plus the Magic Wand Tool are the primary methods for selecting an area of the layer for modification, deletion, copying, or cropping.

Rectangle Select Rectangle Select

Use this tool to define a rectangular or square selection.

Lasso Select Lasso Select

This tool is used to create a freeform selection. The edge of the selected region will follow the mouse cursor as it is dragged around the canvas.  The shape will automatically be closed with a straight line from the current cursor location back to the start point.

Elliptical Select Ellipse Select

Create elliptical or circular selections with this tool.

Making Selections

The basic use of these tools is straightforward: click and drag the mouse cursor to create a selection shape. Releasing the mouse button relinquishes editing mode and fixes the selection.

Once a selection has been created, editing operations (including effects and adjustments) are confined to the active selection.  This can be used to limit drawing to a specific area of the layer.

To edit an area outside the current selection it is necessary to either add the new area to the selection or to deselect the active selection.


Editing operations are confined to the active selection. It is not possible to edit outside an active selection.

When a selection is active it will be surrounded by a dashed moving outline to indicate the area (known as the "dancing ants").  If one of the selection tools is active, a blue highlight will also be applied to the selected area to aid identification.  This highlighting is removed when another tool is chosen to improve color accuracy.

Once created, selections may be moved, resized, and rotated (see Move Tools for more information).


You can create and move a selection at the same time.
While dragging out a selection using one of the Shape Selection tools, additionally hold down the second Mouse Button.  When both Mouse Buttons are down, the selection can be dragged around the canvas. Release the second Mouse Button to stop moving the selection and return to normal selection dragging.

Deselecting Selections

To stop using an active selection it needs to be deselected.

To deselect via the keyboard, press Enter or Ctrl + D.

To deselect using the mouse cursor, click the Edit → Deselect menu item or the Deselect icon in the Tool Bar.  Clicking anywhere off-canvas with one of the Selection Tools active will also deselect an active selection.

Selection Modes

Selection Modes Selection Modes

There are five selection modes which alter how successive selections interact. The modes are Replace, Add, Subtract, Intersect and Invert ("xor").  A mode can be chosen from the Tool Bar or via a keyboard combination (see Keyboard & Mouse Commands).


This is the default selection mode. Any new selection made will replace any and all previous selection(s).

Add (Union)

A new selection is added to any previous selection(s). This allows multiple areas to be selected at once.  Any other selection tool can be used to make additions.

The following selection was made by drawing a circle selection using the Ellipse Select tool, followed by the creation of a square selection using the Rectangle Select tool:

Add Mode Add Mode

To add to an existing selection, hold down the Ctrl key then create a new selection.


In this mode, any newly defined areas are removed from previously created selection(s).  This mode allows a selection to be modified or reduced in ways not possible by making a single selection.  Any other selection tool can be used to make subsequent removals.

For example, if a circular selection is made with the Ellipse Select tool, Subtract mode allows the center to be easily removed by creating another circle inside it:

Subtract Mode Subtract Mode

To remove portions from an existing selection, hold down the Alt key while creating another selection.


In the Intersect mode, only overlapping selection areas are kept. Areas not common to the original area and the new one are discarded.

This quarter-circle selection was created by creating a large circular selection then a smaller square selection with Intersect mode active:

Intersect Mode Intersect Mode

Enable Intersect mode by holding down Alt while creating a new selection with the Right Mouse Button.

Invert ("xor")

This acts like Add mode except that overlapping regions are removed from the total selection.

This mode allow the creation of complex selections like this one, made using a combination of the Ellipse Select and Rectangle Select tools:

Invert Mode Invert Mode

Enable Invert mode by holding down Ctrl and creating a new selection using the Right Mouse button.