The Polygonal Lasso Tool makes selections around an object using straight selection areas between anchor points. It’s ideal for selecting polygonal objects or objects with many straight sides. In this article, you will learn how this tool works and how to use it effectively. The tool is excellent for making quick selections around straight edges, after which you can remove the background, add selective adjustments, and so much more.

How To Access The Polygonal Lasso Tool

You can find the Polygonal Lasso Tool in the Toolbar under the Lasso Tool group. Click and hold on the Lasso Tool icon to bring up the fly-out menu.

Alternatively, press Shift + L until the Polygonal Lasso Tool appears.

How To Create A Selection With The Polygonal Lasso Tool

Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the Toolbar (L) to create a selection with this tool. 

Next, go to the Options bar and adjust the following settings.  

Make sure the selection mode is set to New Selection.

Set the Feather to 0 px. If Feather is set to 0 px, no blur is applied to the edges of your object, which is ideal for objects with straight lines.

Finally, check the Anti-alias checkbox if it’s not already. This prevents your object from getting jagged edges, which is common, especially in low-resolution images.

With the necessary settings properly adjusted, zoom in on any object’s edge and click once to create an initial anchor point. 

Next, move your cursor along your object’s edge and click again to create a second anchor point, or click and drag to a new spot, and when you let go of the mouse, a new anchor point is added. A segment will connect the two anchor points. You need to cover the edges of an entire area with those segments to complete a selection.

You can scroll your image around while selecting your object. To do this, hold the space bar on your keyboard. This will enable the Hand Tool. Once the tool is enabled, click and drag your image in any direction you want. 

Press Delete on your keyboard to undo a segment. If you want to undo an entire selection, on the other hand, press Esc.  

To complete your selection, you should trace all the edges of the desired area and link its initial point with its endpoint.

The selection is only complete when you see the Polygonal Lasso Tool icon with a circle next to it. 

Once that icon appears, click to close the selection, and marching ants will appear, indicating your selection is complete.  

While selecting an object, you can enable one of the Selection Modes available in the Options bar.

This will be helpful, especially if you want to make a selection bit by bit rather than doing it all at once.

As seen previously, the New Selection mode is enabled by default and allows you to start a selection.

The Add To Selection mode allows you to add content to your selection.

After selecting the desired area, click the Add To Selection option. Once you do this, the Polygonal Lasso Tool icon will get a plus sign icon next to it.  

 Now, make a selection in an area directly adjacent to your initial selection.

That area will be added to the selection.

The Subtract From Selection mode allows you to remove parts of your selection.

Once you enable this option, your cursor will turn into a Polygonal Lasso Tool icon with a minus sign.  

To remove content from the selection, keep the Subtract From Selection option active and make a selection inside your initial selection.

That will remove the selected pixels from the selection.

If you have two selections and want to keep the intersection between them, enable the Intersect With Selection mode.

To select an entire object to cut out or fill with color, for example, you should select all of the object’s edges. Don’t let any part of the perimeter be left out.   

How To Cut Out An Image With The Polygonal Lasso Tool

After making a selection with the Polygonal Lasso Tool, you can remove the background.

To do this, keep the selection active. Then, go to the Layers panel and click the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the panel.

This will create a layer mask linked to the original layer.

The background will then disappear.

The advantage of cutting out your image using layer masks is that it’s a non-destructive method. Thus, if you want to bring back portions of the areas you cut, you can double-click the layer mask and open up the Select And Mask workspace. Besides bringing back erased areas, you can also refine your selection in that workspace. 

The Polygonal Lasso Tool VS The Lasso Tool

The Polygonal Lasso Tool and the Lasso Tool allow you to select an object by drawing a selection around it. Unlike other tools, they don’t limit the number of sides you can cover to make a particular selection shape.

However, their methods of selection differ.

The Polygonal Lasso Tool makes selections by connecting segments and is ideal for selecting objects made of straight lines, preferably polygons, such as triangles and diamond shapes. Use this tool when you want a perfect selection done to cut out the given object or fill it with color or a pattern.

For example, in the image below, I connected ten segments around the object with the Polygonal Lasso tool, which was sufficient to select the entire star. 

The Lasso Tool, on the other hand, is more of a free-hand tool that is ideal for selecting the edges of objects with undefined shapes. 

With this tool, you draw around an area to select it. Choose this tool over others when you are not worried about making a perfect selection.

In the example below, I only needed to select the area highlighted to move their pixels to another part of the same image, so a perfect selection wasn’t required. Therefore, the Lasso Tool was the most recommended tool to do the job. 

Due to their differences, you can’t use both tools interchangeably. However, if your object is made of polygons and undefined shapes, you can combine both tools to complete your selection. 

The Magnetic Lasso is generally more exact than the Lasso Tool since it’s easier to define an exact selection area. However, this tool isn’t great for cutting out subjects or any edges with extreme details like hair. For those situations, you need to use other selection methods like the ones I share here in my guide to removing backgrounds in Photoshop.