The Magic Wand Tool: Knowing Your Photoshop

magic wand toolAdobe Photoshop, an extremely popular graphics program that allows users to edit their photographs in different dynamic ways, has been on a long journey these past few years. It is known that the program has become widely popular among media outlets, which often use Photoshop for to airbrush featured subjects in numerous magazine publications. Even though trained professionals spend all day working on masterfully improving their images with Photoshop (along with Photoshop Extended, which is another edition of the original program, but has extra motion graphics, 3D image creation, and advanced analysis features), you too can fit right in with the pros from the comfort of your own home.

In this day and age, communicating through social media websites, such as Facebook or Instagram, has become a natural way of life and allows our family and friends to be actively in our lives – even if they live thousands of miles away. And, of course, sharing your photographs is a major part of communicating in the social media world. If you’re a first time user of Photoshop, it can be pretty intimidating, which is why it’s incredibly handy to have tools like this one, which walks beginners through the most difficult elements of Photoshop with a vivid six hour course. It’s always better to break down Photoshop into smaller components in order to focus on one tool at a time. Here, we will share tips and tricks on familiarizing yourself with the Magic Wand tool.

What is the Magic Wand Tool? 

When first opening up the program (in any version of the software), the handy little magic wand tool can be accessed from the tool bar window that appears on the screen. The tool, once the user clicks an area of their image, is made to detect pixels which are akin to each other. It can be used to highlight a portion of your image for transformation or even used to cut a certain part of the selected image out and paste it into a different image.

How to Use the Magic Wand Tool 

  1. First and foremost, open up Photoshop and click on the File tab in order to browse for your image on your computer. Once you select the photo of your choosing, click OK.
  2. You want to set the magic wand’s options in the options bar (it will give you four options: Tolerance, Contiguous, Anti-alised, and Use All Layers).
  3. Nab the magic wand tool (the stick that appears to have a star on top of it) and then use the tool to highlight the section of the photo that you wish to correct. For example, if you’ve taken a group photo and what to select your friend’s green sweater, simply select that sweater with the magic wand.
  4. You’ll want to zoom in on the highlighted area in order to enlarge it. You will notice, after zooming in, that some areas in the photos are marked by a slow moving dotted line. You’re able to click on these particular areas in order to add, or even subtract, them from your work. You can select all the portions of “like contrast” you want to be changed up while subtracting the ones you don’t want.
  5. Go up to the Image tab at the top of the screen and go to Adjust and then select the Color Balance in order to shift the hue of the image to one of your liking.

Still somewhat lost? That’s not a problem. Luckily, Udemy offers a crash course based around learning all the tools of Photoshop.

The Magic Wand can also be used to Select Text 

Just like when selecting a section of an image, the magic wand can also be used to highlight text as well.

  1. Open up a blank window with an easy transparent backdrop.
  2. Type in text, sized preferably around 40 to 50 pixels.
  3. Click on the magic wand tool and review the Options palette in order to adjust the settings.
  4. Highlight the text with the tool, which will automatically select colors similar to each other.
  5. If the tool selected ALL of your text, then you’re done and ready to move on to add whichever special effects you wish. If didn’t select all of the text, go back to the magic wand settings in order to adjust them (for example, if the Contiguous box was checked off, then one letter of your text was highlighted – unless your letters connect if you used a certain cursive style text. So you would uncheck the box) and then go back and attempt to select the text again.

The magic wand tool is considered one of the most difficult tools in Adobe Photoshop because it is misunderstood and often overlooked by users. New users tend to be weary of anything too complex, which is why it’s always best to have a little help – if you would like to learn more, check out this tutorial for Photoshop beginners that walks you through the basics of the program.

Once you have used the magic wand tools a few times, you’ll get comfortable enough to just play around with it in different settings. You may not become the Photoshop savant you always dreamed you’d be with your first go-round, but with some practice, you’ll be able to not only become a magic wand pro, but you’ll begin to fear all the other intimidating tools a little less. It’s always best to take a little time everyday to just play with all the tools at your disposal, and have some fun with them. It’s not an easy task to raise your Photoshop IQ, but it is an extremely fun process to learn. And once you have the basics down, check out an Udemy course to enhance your Photoshop skills, such as Photoshop’s Secrets and Dirty Tricks, which promises to teach you a number of tips and tricks to start making incredible images in the program.