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TK Selection Brush

TK Selection Brush pluginThe TK Selection Brush is a Photoshop plugin that acts like a Photoshop tool. It allows selections to be created and edited simply by painting on the image with the Photoshop Brush and Eraser tools. It's a unique application that opens new opportunities and speeds the workflow. The concept was first introduced in the TK Gen Fill plugin but is now a stand-alone tool with a much smaller footprint and improved functionality. Jump to download section.

Features include:

  • Brings the power and versatility of the Brush tool to making custom selections.
  • Works like the Lasso tool but with the convenience and control of the Brush tool.
  • The plugin is also an Object Selection Brush. The painted area can be used to select an object via a unique interface with Photoshop's Object Selection tool
  • Edit existing selections (add or subtract) or create new ones.
  • Use Brush Opacity at less than 100% to create partial selections.
  • Vary Brush Hardness to create hard-edged or feathered selections.
  • Use the Brush tool's click-SHIFT-click function to create perfectly straight selections.
  • Provides a more logical approach than Photoshop's Quick Mask Mode for painting in or painting out selected areas.
  • Easily paint partial selections for Generative Fill.
  • Adjustable user interface allows the buttons to be oriented either horizontally or vertically (see image) to adapt the user's workspace. Simply grab and stretch the sides to do this. The plugin can also be docked on a docking bar and accessed from there.
  • Users can choose a custom color for the painted overlay and selection indicator (magenta is the default).
  • Offers a simple user interface, just six buttons.
  • Highly versatile. Users still get to choose their Brush settings for a completely customizable selection.
  • Easy installation.

NOTE: This plugin and the installation document are English-only and have not been translated into other languages.

How to use it

The image below describes the plugin's buttons.

TK Selection Brush plugin with descriptions

The plugin is easy to use.

  1. Click the "+" button to create or add to a standard selection by painting on the image. Or, click the "-" button to remove paint, which subtracts from the selected area. The plugin automatically chooses the correct Photoshop tool (Brush or Eraser).
  2. To create or add to an OBJECT selection, hold down "CTRL" (Windows) or "command" (Mac) when clicking the "+" button. To remove an OBJECT from the selection, hold down "CTRL" (Windows) or "command" (Mac) when clicking the "-" button.
  3. After clicking "+" or "-", adjust the tool's settings (Opacity and Hardness) to paint the desired selection. All Brush or Eraser options can be used. For OBJECT selections, the plugin automatically selects the Brush settings that work best.
  4. Finally, click the highlight green output button(s) to output the painted area as a selection and use it as needed for image processing.

NOTE #1: When making or editing standard selections (not object selections) and there is an active selection, clicking the "+" or "-" buttons automatically shows the selected area as being painted-in on the image.

NOTE #2: See "Tips and Best Practices" below for information on how to select or unselect multiple objects with the object selection feature.

The fly-out menu in the upper right corner provides access to the plugin's preferences and additional resources.

TK Magic Mixer preferences menu

Tips and best practices

1. Use the "Selection Brush layer opacity" setting in the preferences (shown above) to choose how dense the paint looks when it is applied to create selections. The default is "100%" but a lower value allows more of the image to be visible as paint is applied with the Selection Brush. Using a lower "Selection Brush layer opacity" setting, like "50%", offers the option to still see the image better when applying the paint to better determine where to apply it.

2. When clicking the "+" and "-" buttons (or CTLR/command-clicking on them for OBJECT selections), the plugin highlights and outlines the output buttons that are best used with that choice. So, after painting to make a selection, click one of the highlighted buttons for best results in creating the desired selection.

Output options for TK Selection Brush

3. By default, Flow for the Photoshop Brush and Eraser tools (which are used by the Selection Brush) is set to 100%. This allows Opacity setting to determine the degree of selection of the painted area. For standard selections (those created with the "Standard Selection" button), the amount of paint deposited when painting with the Selection Brush matches the degree to which the painted area will be selected. So, to make an area 100% selected, paint with a Brush Opacity of 100%. To make a 50% selection, use a Brush Opacity of 50%. Partial selections (those less than 100%) are useful for partially revealing an adjustment. They can also be useful for helping generative fill content blend better into the image.

4. For standard selections, Hardness of the Brush tool determines feathering. To make a selection with no feathering, set Brush Hardness to 100%. As the Hardness percentage decreases, the feathering for the selection will increase.

5. OBJECT selections are created by holding down "CTRL" (Windows) or "command" (Mac) when clicking the "+" and "-" buttons. For object selections, the plugin automatically sets Hardness--100%, Opacity--100%, and Flow--100% for best results. When the painted area is output as an object selection, the plugin returns these settings to what they were previously.

6. When planning to use the "Rectangle" object selection option it is not necessary to paint all the way around the object. Two dabs of paint in the diagonal corners of the rectangle that defines the object to be selected are all that's needed. Some users prefer to place dabs of paint on several outer parts of the object to be selected. This works too for "Rectangle" object selections.

7. When planning to use the "Lasso" object selection option, it is frequently possible to use the Selection Brush to make a loose outline around the object and then click the "Lasso" output option. However, if this doesn't properly select the object, click the "Cancel" button to start over, painting over the object entirely with the Selection Brush the next time instead of making a loose outline around it. Completely painting over an object is the surest way to properly define it for selection with the "Lasso" object selection output option.

8. Photoshop's Object Selection tool only allows selecting one object at a time. Because of this limitation, the "Rectangle" and "Lasso" object selection output options (which use the Photoshop tool) canNOT select multiple objects at the same time either. So, when using the Selection Brush to select an object, select only one object at a time and then output the selection using the "Rectangle" and "Lasso" object selection output buttons. To select additional objects, hold down the "CTRL" key (Windows) or "command" key (MAC) when clicking the "+" button. This saves the current selected area in memory. Then paint in the next object that needs to be selected. Now, when the newly painted object is output as a selection using the "Rectangle" or "Lasso" object selection options, the saved selected area will automatically be added back as part of the active selection.

9. A similar process can be used to REMOVE OBJECTS from a selection. Hold CTRL/command and click the "-" button. Paint the object to be removed, and then click the "Rectangle" or "Lasso" object selection buttons to remove this item from the selection.

10. Since the Selection Brush uses Photoshop's Brush tool, the "click-SHIFT-click" method to create straight-line brushstrokes works for it. This means it's possible to make straight-line standard selections or to quickly create object selections of straight-line objects.

11. While magenta is the default color for painting with the Selection Brush, "Choose overlay color" in the preferences allows choosing a different color. NOTE: Saturated colors work best for visualizing areas painted with the Selection Brush.

12. "Auto-hide selection edges" in the preferences is only applied when outputting standard selections. Outputs using the "Rectangle" or "Lasso" object selections will always show the selection edges (marching ants).

13. The horizontal orientation of the TK Selection Brush plugin is the same width as several other "TK" plugins, so it fits nicely in the same panel dock with them. This also means it can be docked as a tab with other "TK" panels so it to be easily opened when needed by clicking its tab.

14. To change the plugin's size and/or orientation, hover the mouse over an edge to get the double-arrow cursor, grab the edge (click down on the mouse and hold), and then drag the edge to create the desired size/orientation.

How to get the plugin

The plugin is distributed in a download folder which includes installation directions (it's easy to install). Photoshop 2022 (version 23.3.0) or Photoshop Beta is required to install it, but testing and troubleshooting are only available for the latest version of Photoshop. To get the free TK Selection Brush plugin, follow the directions below.

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