The Basics – Photoshop Tools Part 1 of 3
One of the most powerful and the leading, industry standard software on image and graphics editing or creation is the Adobe Photoshop, or merely Photoshop. If you’re just starting to learn about Photoshop, you might know some of its tools and basic editing tasks like resizing and cropping but to be able to fully understand and master all of its tools takes a lot of time. That’s the reason why the main purpose of this Photoshop Tutorial is to help you learn the basics of Photoshop (starting with Photoshop tools) for you to get started with it. People tend to skip the basics or the fundamentals and start on learning the advanced Photoshop tutorials which they thought is easier. But they’re wrong. Jacob Gube once said, “If you take the time to learn the basics, you’ll run into less trouble because you understand how things work.”
Author: Rufino Peligrino Jr.
The first part of this Photoshop tutorial is to know the basic Photoshop tools. Here’s the full list of Photoshop tools with its corresponding shortcuts, descriptions and features. The shortcut keys are inside the parenthesis ( ).
Move Tool (V)
- The Move Tool is used, apparently, to move a selected area/image or layer. Click to select the Move Tool located at the top portion of your Photoshop Toolbox. You can also select the Move Tool by holding on your keyboard the Ctrl key for Windows and Command key for Mac.
- In order to move a selected image/area, click on the selection (while the Move Tool is activated), hold it down, then drag it to the desired location and drop.
- Now, to move a layer, same thing for the selection, just click the layer, hold, drag, and drop.
- You can also use the arrow keys in your keyboard to precisely move the layer or selected image/area.
- While moving a layer or selection, hold down the Shift key to limit the movement to horizontal or vertical.
Rectangular Marquee Tool (M)
- The Rectangular Marque Tool, one of the 4 marquee tools, is used to make rectangle selections. Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool at the top of the Photoshop Toolbox just below the Move Tool. Right click on the marquee tool icon to view the four marquee tools.
- To make a rectangle selection, activate the Rectangle Marquee Tool and click on the area/image and drag.
- To constrain the selection to a perfect square, just simply hold down the Shift key while selecting.
- When you select a specific tool, there are options that will appear on Options bar located just below the menu bar.
- The new selection option will make a new selection and delete the current selection.
- The Add to selection option lets you add another area to an existing selection. You can also activate the Add to selection option by holding the Shift key while you are selecting.
- The Subtract from selection option helps you to subtract a specific area on the existing selection. You can also activate it by holding Alt key for Windows or Option for Mac, while you are selecting.
- The Intersect with selection option is used to intersect a specific area within the existing selection. Hold down Shift+Alt for Windows and Shift+Option for Mac to activate it through keyboard.
Elliptical Marquee Tool (M)
- The Elliptical Marquee Tool is another type of marquee tool that makes elliptical selections. The features of this tool are pretty much the same as Rectangle Marquee Tool except for the fact that it creates elliptical selections rather than rectangles.
- Press the Shift key down while selecting to constrain your selection to a perfect circle.
- The options on the Option bar for the Elliptical Marquee Tool are just the same with Rectangle Marquee Tool.
Single Row Marquee Tool
- The Single Row Marquee Tool is used to create a horizontal selection of one pixel high. Also, all wide row selections for image can be created using this tool. It is one of the Marquee tools so its features and options are the same.
Single Column Marquee Tool
- Single Column Marquee Tool is the same as Single Row Marquee Tool, only it is now used to create one pixel high vertical selections.
Lasso Tool (L)
- The Lasso Tool allows you to create freehand selections. To make a selection, just click on the Lasso tool (just below the Marquee tools), then click on where you want to start your selection and draw your desired selection while holding your mouse’s left button. To complete your selection, just release the button. There are 3 Lasso Tools that are available. Just right click or hold down the left click to view them all.
Polygon Lasso Tool (L)
- The Polygon Lasso Tool is like the Lasso tool, but instead of holding down your mouse button while you draw your selection, you just have to click on various points to make a selection. It’s just like creating polygon selections. To complete the selection, click on the starting/first point of your selection or just double left-click at any point.
Magnetic Lasso Tool (L)
- The Magnetic Lasso Tool is used to create a selection, automatically clinging to the edges of the defined area of the contrast objects. Click on the Magnetic Lasso Tool, click at the image to create your starting point. Move the mouse on the edges of the object. The tool will create fastening points that clings at the edges. You can manually put a fastening point by clicking the desired key point. To complete the selection, click on the starting/first point of your selection or just double left-click at any point.
- When you select the Magnetic Lasso Tool, you can see these following options at the options bar:
- The Width is responsible for the tool’s range of detecting edges.
- The Contrast is responsible for the tool’s sensitivity.
- And the Frequency is responsible for the amount or how often the fastening points the tool will set.
Quick Selection Tool (W)
- The Quick Selection Tool, one of the two Color Selection Tools, is used to quickly create/select a defined area. Select the Quick Selection Tool just below the Lasso Tools and simply click on the area that you want to select or to be included in your selection. Right click on the icon to view the two Color Selection Tools.
- While activating the Quick Selection Tool, you can see these following options at the Option bar:
- The Brush Picker Option lets you adjust the Diameter, Hardness, Spacing, Angle, and Roundness of the brush depending on the specifications of the object that you want to select. In addition, you can increase the brush size by pressing the ] key and [ key to decrease it.
- The Sample All Layers Option lets you select from all the layers rather than the selected layer.
- The Auto-Enhance Option allows you to automatically smoothes the edges of the boundary of you selection.
- The Refine Edge Option refines your selection and views it against a neutral background in order for you to clearly see how the selection will look. When you click the Refine Edge icon, you will these following options:
- The Radius Option defines the size of the selection’s area where the refinement of the edge occurs.
- The Contrast Option is the one that sharpens the selection’s edges.
- The Smooth Option defines the irregularities in the boundary of the selection.
- The Feather Option creates faded transition from your selection to the background or area outside of the selection.
- The Contract/Expand Option contracts or expands the selection’s boundary.
- The five options below the sliders allow you to select on how to preview your selection. The descriptions of each option are located just right below it in Photoshop.
Magic Wand Tool (W)
- The Magic Wand Tool selects an area or all objects in an image with the same/similar color, stroke color, stroke weight, blending mode, or opacity. While the tool is activated, make a selection by simply clicking the image. The Magic Wand Tool is the second Color Selection Tool.
- While activating the Magic Wand Tool, you can see these following options at the Option bar:
- The Tolerance is responsible for the sensitivity of the tool. The higher the tolerance, the wider the selection.
- Contiguous option selects the areas that are only joined together.
- Sample All Layers option is the same as with the Quick Selection Tool.
Crop Tool (C)
- The Crop Tool enables you to cut out a specific area by discarding or deleting everything outside the selection. It is located below the Color Selection Tools. Click on the Crop Tool and click on the image, then draw a rectangle selection by holding down your mouse’s button. When you release your mouse button, your selected area will have a bounding box. You can move, rotate or resize the selected area. To move it, click on the selected area, hold the mouse button and drag it. To rotate it, click outside the selection area, hold the mouse button and drag. And finally to resize the selection, just click on the selection handles, hold and drag.
- To perform or apply the crop, just press the Enter key. And to discard the process, just hit the Esc key.
- In the Option bar, you can pre-define the target image’s size. Just fill in the Width, Height and its Resolution fields.
Slice Tool (C)
- The Slice Tool lets you to cut images into smaller pieces which fit together. It is usually used for website designing. This tool is under the same group with the Crop Tool. Just right click on the Crop Tool to view it. Click on the Slice Tool to activate it. Click and drag the area that you want to slice and release your mouse button.
- While selecting the Slice Tool, you can see the following options on the Option bar:
- The Fixed Aspect Ratio option is used to create pre-defined proportion slices. You just have to set your preferred values of Width and Height.
- The Fixed Size option allows you to create pre-defined size slices. Again, you just have to fill in the Width and Height values.
- After making the slice, right click on it to show the context menu of the tool. By this, you can gain access to the available commands in Photoshop.
Slice Select Tool (C)
- The Slice Select Tool allows you to select, move, and resize the slices that you made. This tool is also under the same group as the Crop Tool. Click the Slice Select Tool and select the slice that you want to move or resize. To move it, click on the slice and drag it. To resize it, click on the slice handles and drag it.
Eyedropper Tool (I)
- The Eyedropper Tool is useful when you want to change your foreground or background color. Click on the Eyedropper Tool just below the Crop Tool. On the Eyedropper Tool, there are 3 other tools under this group, the Color Sampler Tool, Ruler Tool and Note Tool.
- While the Eyedropper Tool is activated, click on the color of the image that you want the foreground color to be.
- If you want to change the background color, just click on the color of the image that you want while holding the Alt key.
- You can see these following option in the Options bar:
- The Point Sample option allows you to pick up the color on the pixel that you clicked on.
- All of the other samples from the options read the average values from the larger areas.
Color Sampler Tool (I)
- The Color Sampler Tool is used to sample color values from a single pixel of your image. Click on the Color Sampler Tool and click on the page or image where your first sampler will be set. It will then show the color channel values in your Info palette. You only have up to 4 samples to be set on your image.
- In order to delete one of your samples, just hold Alt key and click on the sample.
Ruler Tool (I)
- The Ruler Tool or previously Measure Tool is used for calculating the distances and angles between two points in your work area. Select the Ruler Tool and click on one point of your work area and drag it to the other point.
- In your Options bar, you can see the tool’s measuring data:
- The, and Y are the starting point’s coordinates.
- The W is the width or horizontal length.
- The H is the height or vertical length.
- A is the angle that is relative to axis.
- L1 is the total length of the first line.
- L2 is the total length of the second line.
- To constrain the Ruler Tool to increments of 45 degrees, just hold down the Shift key while making your measurements.
Note Tool (I)
- The Note Tool is used for posting or attaching notes to your image. Click the Note Tool and click on the image on where you want to put the note. Type in your text and then close the note.
- You can see the following options in the Option bar:
- In here, you can change the Author’s name and set your notes color.
- To edit your notes, double click on the note and edit it.
- To delete it, click on the note that you wish to delete and press the Delete key.
And to delete all your notes, just click the Clear All button on the Options bar.
- Remember, to include notes in your image, don’t forget to save your images in PSD format.
Spot Healing Brush Tool (J)
- The Spot Healing Brush Tool will automatically sample the pixels around the spot and matches its texture, transparency, shading and lighting to the pixels to be healed.
Select the Spot Healing Brush Tool located below the Eyedropper Tool. Click on the area that you want to be healed, or you can click and drag the area to smoothen the imperfections of a larger area.
- In the Options bar, you can see these following options:
- The Brush Picker Option lets you adjust the Diameter, Hardness, Spacing, Angle, and Roundness of the brush depending on the specifications of the area that you want to fix. In addition, you can increase the brush size by pressing the ] key and [key to decrease it.
- For the Mode, select the Replace option to maintain the noise, grain, and texture of the brush stroke’s edges.
- The Proximity option uses the pixels around edges of the brush to do the fixing.
- The Create Texture option uses the pixels inside the brush to fix the image or area by creating a texture.
Healing Brush Tool (J)
- The Healing Brush Tool is used to fix or retouch images such as blemishes, scratches, and other image imperfections by using sampled pixels. This tool works similarly with the Spot Healing Brush Tool. The only difference is, instead of automatically sampling the pixels around the spot, it requires you to define a sample spot to be the source. The Healing Brush Tool is under the same group with the Spot Healing Brush Tool.
- To define a sample spot, just hold down the Alt button and click on the image you want to be the source.
- The options in the Option bar for Healing Brush Tool are also similar with Spot Healing Brush Tool. With just only slight differences.
Patch Tool (J)
- The Patch Tool is the same as the Healing Brush Tool that uses a patch instead of a brush. (Under the same group with the Spot Healing Brush Tool)
- Click the Patch Tool in the Toolbox. Just like with the Lasso Tool, select the area that you want to fix if you are using the Source mode in the Options bar and drag the selection to your source area. But if you select the Destination mode, select your source area, click it and drag it to the area that you want to fix. You can also use a pattern to fix your image by selecting the Pattern option in the Options bar.