Photoshop: Changing a Sign


Here are two time-saving Photoshop tips that have always helped me select odd angles and uneven shapes. They're so simple I questioned putting them on my tutorial site, but my students seem to find them helpful—I certainly do—so I thought others might too.

Let's say you want to replace the "Fresh Squeezed LEMONADE" letters in the carnival food stand photo below. First we have to select the yellow area just outside the letters.

Technical tip: A WACOM tablet works really well here.

Here's how I like to do it:

Photoshop Tips


  1. Choose the lasso tool in Photoshop.
  2. Click, hold down, and start drawing just inside the top left corner of the yellow part. Draw a smile shape until you end at the top right, just inside the yellow area again.
    Photoshop Tips

  3. Now release. This will draw a perfectly straight line connecting your starting and ending points.

    Photoshop Tips

  4. Do the same to the other three sides (hold down the shift key to add a selection) and you'll have a neat, clean selection of the yellow area inside the frame. It will look like this:
    Photoshop Tips

  5. Finally, fill the selection, on a new layer, with a gradient of sampled yellows from the original photo. Now you have a clean slate to add a favorite carnival food of choice.
    Photoshop Tips



Similar results with the Pen Tool

Here's another way to do it, and depending on your shape, this may be even faster. Remember, get out that WACOM tablet!

  1. To select the same uneven shape simply choose the Pen Tool and draw a path around the area. Click 4 times, once in each corner. Connect the last two points, closing the path. Like this:
    Photoshop TIps
    Note: I reduced the opacity so we could see the drawn path better. It's still the same photo.

  2. Next, hold down the command key and press return. This will turn the path into a selection (marching ants).
    Photoshop Tips

  3. The last step is the same as before—fill the selection, on a new layer, with a gradient of sampled yellows from the original photo.
    Photoshop Tips


You may be asking yourself why I didn't use the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Call me old fashioned, call me set in my ways, call me whatever, but I just don't care for that tool much. It's a personal choice. You'll grow to love some tools and processes in Photoshop more than others too. I will say that the Polygonal Lasso Tool certainly could used to select this sign.

There you have it, that's a better choice—Nice Job!