One of Elements’ most impressive talents is its ability to let you select part of an image and make changes only to that area. Selecting something tells Elements, “Hey, this is what I want to work on—don’t touch the rest of it.”
You can select a whole image or any part of it. Using selections, you can fine-tune images in very sophisticated ways: Change the color of just one rose in a bouquet, for instance, or change your nephew’s festive purple hair back to something his grandparents would appreciate. Graphics pros will tell you that good selections make the difference between shoddy, amateurish work and a slick, professional job.
Elements includes a whole bunch of different selection tools. You can draw a rectangular or circular selection with the marquee tools; paint to create a selection with the Selection Brush; or just drag in your photo with the Quick Selection tool and let Elements figure out the exact boundaries of your selection. When you’re looking to pluck a particular object (a beautiful flower, say) from a photo, the Magic Extractor works wonders. The Transform Selection command lets you resize selections in a snap. And Elements 11 brings a wonderful new tool to help with difficult selections like hair or fur—the upgraded Refine Edge dialog box that debuted in Photoshop CS5 (see Refining Selection Edges).
For most jobs, there’s no right or wrong tool. With experience, you may find that you prefer working with certain tools more than others, ...