Revision Date: 14 April 2021

Selection Tools  Rectangle Select Tool Lasso Select Tool Ellipse Select Tool Magic Wand Tool

There are four tools used to select an area within the active layer. Three Shape selection tools and the Magic Wand selection tool.

Rectangle Select Tool Rectangle Select

Use this tool to define a rectangular or square region.  For more information on how to use this tool, see the Rectangle Select Tool section.

Lasso Select Tool Lasso Select

This tool allows you to draw a freeform selection region where the outer edge of the selection follows the cursor.  The shape is closed automatically by a straight line linking the current cursor position with the start point.  For more information on how to use this tool, see the Lasso Select Tool section.

Ellipse Select Tool Ellipse Select

This tool allows elliptical or circular selections to be made.  For more information on how to use this tool, see the Ellipse Select Tool section.

Magic Wand Tool Magic Wand

The Magic Wand is used to select areas of the active layer that have similar colors.  For more information on how to use this tool, see the Magic Wand Tool section.

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.


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.

Manipulating Selections

Once a selection has been made, it can be moved, rotated and scaled using the Move Selection Move Selection tool.  See Move Tools page for more information.

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).

Replace Replace Selection Mode

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

Add (Union) Add (union) Selection Mode

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.

Subtract Subtract Selection Mode

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.

Intersect Intersect Selection Mode

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") Invert ("xor") Selection Mode

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

This mode allows 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.

Selection Clipping Modes

There are two selection clipping modes associated with the Selection tools (and also available as a Tool Bar option for many other tools).

Selection clipping Modes
Selection Clipping Modes

These settings dictate whether the selection edge is clipped to a per-pixel boundary, or if the edge is antialiased.

Selection clipping in action
Selection Clipping Modes - Pixelated (left) and Antialiased (right)

If each of the selections above were filled with a solid color, the coarseness of the edges can be clearly seen (below).

The filled shape on the left is pixelated. The fill color either fills an entire pixel or the pixel is unfilled.

The shape on the right is antialiased. The fill color is subtly extended into pixels which are partially covered by the selection. The result is a far smoother edge.

Selection clipping example
Selection Clipping example