The Magic Wand Tool In Photoshop

Magic Wand? What is Magic wand? is this the same wand we might have seen in Harry Potter movie or something else.

What is Magic Wand in Photoshop

In simple magic wand is a tool in Photoshop. It is a selection tool that select similar colored image areas, to make selection or select an area or part of an image for editing without affecting other areas of an image.

Where is the magic wand tool and How its look like?

You amazed but really, many times i saw this question on different platform.

Magic wand Tool in Toolbar

And the answer is – You can find magic wand tool in tools panel in left side of your default photoshop interface.

magic wand tool icon is look as shown in below image

(Note: Magic wand tool icon may change in different photoshop versions)

still you didn’t find the magic wand tool or don’t know where it is, just press the shortcut key for the magic wand tool is ‘W’ and you will jump on the magic wand tool in your tools panel.

How To Use The Magic Wand Tool

As described in definition, oftenly we can use magic wand tool to create selections for a product or ecommerce images to remove background. 

Magic wand tool commonly used for removing backgrounds from an image, for an example we can see white background images on e-commerce platforms. So to create a complete white background behind a product we need to select the background and make it white for an ecommerce image.

If you are a selfie lover or love your photographs, and want to manipulate your image on a different background or different location, then also we can use magic wand to select your image and remove background.

How magic wand tool works (Properties or Options of Magic wand tool)

Magic wand tool work starts with a selection, you can see below given image, here we create a two color mixture background separated by a red color ribbon.

When you create a selection in photoshop through the magic wand tool, you will get some options and properties in your option bar. In above selection type images you can see selection area in Red Color to create a border.

as mentioned above its magic starts with click, and it works on similar luminance pixels, that means it selects similar adjoined color pixels area in single click when contagious option is checked.

Magic wand has four types of selection options and masking also.

(A) Single selection – Single selection is default selected when you choose the magic wand tool, it creates single selections.

(b) Add to Selection – When you need to create multiple selections or need to select similar color areas in your image you can use add to selection, it can create multiple selections on a single layer or image.

Its shortcut key is the Holding Shift key while making selection to add selection areas.

(c) Subtract from selection – Imagine you create a selection and by mistake you cover extra areas in your selection and want to remove them, here you can use subtract from selection option with magic wand tool. 

Its shortcut key is the Holding Alt key while subtraction unwanted selection areas.

(d) Intersect with Selection – When you create two selections and you need only the intersect area, here you can use the intersect option.

(e) Sample size – When you create a selection or want to create a selection for similar looking areas in an image, you click on a pixel for sample, Right!

Sample size is how big your click size is when you click for a sample to create a selection and it related with tolerance. if your tolerance is 32 you will get a smaller area of selection, if your tolerance is 64 you will get a bigger area of selection in single click.

(f) Tolerance – We can understand tolerance by simply giving it a name of power of tool.

When you click on a color pixel, the magic wand tool selects a similar color pixel within a range of luminance level.

If your tolerance level is 32 that means your magic wand tool selects 32 levels brighter and 32 levels darker similar luminance pixels. 

it selects bigger area if you tolerance level is larger, we use tolerance level 64 to create this selection.

If your tolerance lever is smaller like 4, it will create a smaller selection.

(g) Anti-Alias – It creates your selection jagged edges smooth.

(h) Contiguous – If you are working on an image in which your desired selection areas are separated by other color areas or boundaries, here contiguous works like a boundary cleaner and selects similar color pixels outside of the boundary.

make sure your contiguous is checked

when your contiguous is check it will select similar color areas outside the boundary also.

(i) Sample all layers – this function only works when you have multiple layers with similar color pixel aress.

here we complete all properties and selection types of magic wand tool and how to use tolerance effectively and if you want to create similar color selection in an image through magic wand tool make sure your contiguous is unchecked. And make sure your Anti-Alias also checked to create your image corners smooth. We can use add-to or subtract selection to add and cut selection areas from a selection.

How to use magic wand tool in photoshop – for selection

Now we are going to use our magic wand to in real world example.

Step 1 : Open your image and duplicate the layer background layer.

here you can see i already opened an image in photoshop.

image is nicer and clear, but when i see the sky its all similar like someone filled it will blue gradient color. So here i need to select the sky and add a cloudy sky in the image.

Step 2: Duplicate your background layer

here we will press “Ctrl+J” after selecting background layer to make a copy or duplicate the background layer. You can also make it by right click on your background layer and click on ‘Duplicate layer‘ to make it easier and see the difference.

Step 3: Hide your background, original image layer to make it safe.

Hide your original layer to make it safer by deselecting eye icon on original background layer.

Step 4 – Select the magic wand tool and Start creating selection

We want to add a new cloudy sky so we need to select the sky, select magic want tool from toolbar and start selecting sky

here you can see some non selected areas of sky, you can add them in selection by holding Shift Key and click on the area we want to add and opposite by holding Alt key and click on the area you want to subtract from selection.

Note : You can select the background or subject, this is your choice. Select the background if your image contains a similar color background. Select the subject if your image background contains different colors.

If you are selecting a background, after selection you can invert your selection and select your subject by pressing “Ctrl+Shift+I” or go to Select menu and click on inverse.

Now press Ctrl+J to make a copy on area you want.

I have cloudy sky image in my another tab, i will select it by pressing Ctrl+A and copy it by pressing Ctrl+Shift+C

and create a new layer by pressing (Ctrl+Shift+N) just below the object i need and paste the sky image.

then by Ctrl+T or Transform command in Select menu i will resize it as per need.

after making all changes, below is our final image.

How to select and Mask with the Magic wand tool

Adobe Photoshop CC and 2020 has a unique select subject option. By using this option you can select your subject in a single click.

I open a apparel shoot model image in photoshop.

For selecting object in a single click just click on select subject.

and it will automatically select your subject.

here you can see it creates a very good selection on to the subject.

after it by clicking on select and Mask Button you can refine your selection edges, and areas and make you subject a mask by clicking on Select and Mask Button in option bar.

By clicking on this tab you can see your subject completely isolated from background and get it on a new layer with layer mask.

Here you can see some option in Global Refinements

Smooth – by increasing the value of smooth function you can smoothen your rough edges on selection.

Refine edge brush tool – if your selection is not perfect or you lose some areas or still viewing some unwanted areas by using refine edge brush tool you can add or remove edge areas.

And when you are finally get satisfied selection results you can get your subject completed remove background by using output setting.

Here you have a clear and clean subject on transparent layer with layers mask, now you can add any other background in your image. You can use blend modes and drop shadow effects to make it real.

I hope you enjoyed this information from the beginning. We learned about what is The Magic wand tool and it is very useful for creating good selections, either we are working on a product image to show it on many backgrounds or using our own photographs to manipulate and add a eiffel tower in the background.

We can use it as a background remove tool. We can select and edit particular areas of an image without distracting the original image. We can adjust the size and paint different colors on our subject and background also to show variations, we don’t need multiple image of a single product.

We will come with more information on selection tools and its use in next posts.


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