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How to Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool in Photoshop

Photo by Sean Pollock on Unsplash

In this article, we’ll cover how to use the polygonal lasso tool in photoshop, from basic to more advanced techniques. The polygonal lasso tool is very versatile, so it’s worth learning to use.

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What Is The Polygonal Lasso Tool

There are a variety of different Lasso Tools available with photoshop, each with its specialized function. They are used to select parts of a layer or image with precision. For example, the Polygonal Lasso tool allows you to create straight-edged polygonal-shaped selections. This can come in handy when cutting outbuildings, billboards, tricky shapes, and achieving various creative effects. While the standard Lasso tool lets you essentially draw the margins of your selection, the polygonal lasso tool is a lot quicker, allowing you to make your selection with just a few clicks.

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How To Use The Polygonal Lasso Tool

To select the polygonal lasso tool, press L on your keyboard, and then press Shift-L to cycle through the lasso tool options until you reach the polygonal lasso tool. Alternatively, you can find it in your left-hand toolbar. 

Polygon lasso tool in toolbar

To make a selection with the tool:

  • To start your selection, simply click the point at which you would like to start. From here, it is a lot like using the pen tool to make a selection. 
use the polygon lasso tool to creative selections
Starting a selection with the polygonal lasso tool.
  • Each ‘point’ you create essentially becomes an anchor point, at which two lines meet. By placing a point you create a new line that can head in any direction. Continue clicking to place points and create your desired shape.
  • Once you’ve made your way around your selection, click on the original starting point to complete the selection. 

Once you’ve finished your selection, you will see the lines change and start to flicker – this means that your selection is active. If you’re not happy with your selection and want to change it, press Control + D to deselect. 

the polygon lasso tool is great for selecting straight lines
Finished selection with the polygonal lasso tool.

Constraining The Angle Of Your Lines

When using the polygonal lasso tool, you will be able to draw your new line in any direction once you have placed an anchor point down. But if you want to create a selection where each angle is the same at each point, or two lines run parallel, for example, you will need to constrain the angle at which your line leaves its anchor point.

To do this, you can hold down Shift after placing your anchor point to constrain your angle.

Editing Your Selection

If you realize you’ve missed a part of your image in your selection, you don’t have to start all over again. Instead, with your selection still active, hold down Shift and click to create your desired new selection. This will automatically be added to your current selection. 

To Remove From Your Selection:

Likewise, if you realize you’ve included something you don’t want in your selection, you can easily remove it without re-doing the entire selection. Instead, hold down Alt or Option and click around the parts you want to remove from your selection with your finished selection still active. This will automatically remove this section from your current selection.

Fixing Mistakes Mid-Selection

Since the polygonal lasso tool uses anchor points to create its selections, you can edit them much the same way as you do when using the pen tool. For example, if you find you have placed an anchor point in the wrong place while making your selection, press delete or Ctrl+Z to remove that anchor point.

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Switch Between The Polygonal Lasso Tool And The Standard Lasso Tool

While the polygonal lasso tool is handy for cutting out shapes with straight edges, most objects aren’t entirely straight and may have rounded corners or bumps to contend with. Luckily, Photoshop answers this need by allowing you to switch easily between the polygonal lasso tool and the standard lasso tool without having to break or finish your selection. The standard lasso tool allows you to draw your selection freely and is excellent for working around curves.

To switch to the standard lasso tool while making a selection using the polygonal lasso tool, hold down Alt or Option. For the duration that you hold down the alt/option button, you will draw freely using the standard lasso tool. 

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Final Thoughts

The polygonal Lasso tool is a versatile tool that can come in handy in a variety of situations. Learning the ins and outs of this tool will make creating selections in photoshop easier and quicker. It’s also worth learning the other selection tools as well, such as the rectangular marquee tool and the magnetic lasso tool – each tool is made to be used for a variety of different tasks.

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