Today we are going to run through the tools in Photoshop. You’d be surprised how quickly you focus only on the ones you know and never give a second glance to the ones you don’t understand and in doing so you end up missing out on some fantastic features and options to assist you in editing your images.

Depending on how you prefer to view your list of tools, they will either appear in a double row or a single row. Personally I prefer the single row.

photoshop-toolsTake a look at the image. From top to bottom each tool has been named for you. You will also note, whether they are in a double or single row, there is a little line dividing some of the tools into sections. Those sections have been listed on the diagram as well.

Notice that some of your tools have a little black arrow in the bottom right corner. This means that the tool has a variety to it. For example your selection tool. Clicking that arrow you will have a little drop down menu that gives you the option of selecting a square or a circle or a single line… all selection tools, just different flavors of that tool.

Starting right at the top of your tool list.

The Move tool: with this tool selected you will be able to move various layers and objects around. Works in a ‘drag and drop’ sense. As long as you are holding the mouse button down you will be ‘holding’ your object. Let the mouse button go and you drop your object. No major explanation required for that one.

Selection Tool: this tool lets you select portions of your image. Try this: select a portion of your image then hold down SHIFT and drag another piece of selection, you will see that you can add extra bits to your already selected portion. They can be attached or completely separate. Now hold down ALT and select part of your already selected piece – in doing so you will note that you have subtracted a portion of your selection. Using Photoshop these two buttons will always aid you in that way. SHIFT always adds and Alt always subtracts.

Lasso Tool: the lasso tool works the same as the selection tool with the only difference being that you are not restricted to a certain shape (ie circle/square) you can now independently draw your selection. You have a free hand lasso tool, a lasso tool that lets you draw in straight lines and a magnetic lasso tool (great for selecting an object of one colour as it will stick like a magnet to the edges of the object)

Magic Wand: This tool lets you select certain colours or colour ranges. Clicking on a portion of your image with the magic wand in hand will select the colour range in that portion. You can adjust your tolerance level (do you want a specific shade of green or a full range of greens) as well as how smooth the edge of your selection will be (Anti-Aliased) Quick Selection tool is with the magic wand tool. You can drag your quick selection tool over your image and add various portions of your image to your selection. Remember hold down SHIFT or Alt to add or subtracts bits.

Crop Tool: using your crop tool to select a portion of your canvas and then hitting enter will crop the entire canvas to that selected size. Once you have made your selection, before you hit enter, you can adjust the size of your canvas by dragging the edges outward or inward.

Slice Tool: This tool is used to create a sort of puzzle out of your image. With this puzzle you can convert your image to HTML or CSS for web use.

Healing Brushes: The healing brushes are used to remove blemishes on a face or a whole person that crept into your image without you wanting them there. You can remove pretty much anything from your image making use of the tools available on this tab (healing brushes and patch tool)

Paint brush / Pencil / colour replace tool: the paintbrush and pencil tool are very straight forward. Select them and draw right onto your image (you can change the hardness etc of these tools) the colour replace tool lets you draw over your image with a new colour and keep the image clear. For example. You wish you had worn blue top or maybe red lipstick on the one photograph…select your colour replace tool and the colour you wanted (red) and draw over your lips and viola! You have red lipstick!

Clone Stamp: The clone stamp tool is great for ‘healing’ too. Alt click somewhere on your image will grab a ‘source pattern’ and then clicking somewhere else on the image will stamp that source pattern over the existing pattern there, much the same as the healing brushes and the patch tool.

History brushes: used in conjunction with your history window (a window that shows you a list of the stages of your edit – for example 1) open image 2) brightness and contrast 3) glowing edges 4) black and white) if you select, in the history list, step 2 and then paint on your image with your history brush in hand – the brush will erase step 3 and 4 in those areas only. If you had selected step 3, the brush would erase step 4 only.

Eraser tools: Yip, you guessed it – different ways of ‘rubbing out’ your mistakes or bits of the image that you don’t want. The Magic eraser will rub out a whole colour range in one click.

Gradient / Paint bucket: The gradient tool will let you fill in a whole area or a specifically selected area with a gradient ranging from your foreground colour to your background colour. You can also create a whole rainbow of colours and even select if you want your gradient to move in a straight line or a radial pattern etc. the paint bucket tool will fill an area with a solid colour.

Blur / Sharpen / Smudge: Very basically, these tools will blur, smudge or sharpen your image wherever you paint them onto the picture. You can for example just paint the edges of a face with ‘blur’ to soften them.

Dodge / Burn / Sponge: The dodge tool will bring out the white in the painted area and the burn tool will increase the contrast by bringing out the dark areas. The sponge tool will de-saturate an area.

Pen tool: used to create a new work path or a new shape layer. I will dedicate a whole lesson to this little tool and it’s vector-friend-tools because I am aware that it can be rather daunting compared to the other tools.

Type Tool: Using this tool you an add text to your image. Clicking on the little black arrow allows you to choose how you want the text to be positioned (vertical / horizontal etc)

Path Selection tool: will be covered in the vector lesson

Line / Vector shape tool: set vector shapes (will be covered in the vector lesson)

Notes: Similar to adding sticky yellow notes to your fridge or desk, this tool lets you add notes to your image.

Eyedropper tool: This tool is used to select certain colours. For example you are working on an image of a face and you want create a frame that is the same blue as your subjects eyes. Clicking on your foreground colour box will bring up the colour palette to choose your blue from, moving your mouse out of the palette box you will see you have the eyedropper tool in hand, click onto the blue of the eye in your image and that blue will automatically be selected as your new foreground colour.

Hand Tool: This tool ONLY works when you are zoomed in. Instead of using the scroll bars on the side of the image, hold down shift and drag your image around until you are zoomed into the portion you want to work on.

Zoom tool: This tool allows you to zoom into your image. Holding down ALT and clicking the same tool will zoom you out of your image.

Toggle foreground and background colours: Swops you foreground and background colours around.

Quick mask mode: switching to quick mask mode lets you paint an area a semi-transparent red. The popping back into normal mode – that red area will be a selection. A very quick way of making specific selections as while you are in quick mask mode you can use your other tools (eraser etc) to ensure a neat selection.

Screen mode: flips through different viewing options.

That’s it for the tools. You can go experiment with each of them now.