If you are new to Adobe Photoshop (and even if you are not) the plethora of editing tools available can be quite daunting. This article explores each tool and how to use them.
But first, let’s look at Photoshop itself. It is a very in-depth application. Photoshop was designed for photo editing, image creation, and graphic design. The software provides many image editing features for raster (pixel-based) images as well as vector graphics. It appeals to photographers, graphic designers, video game artists, advertising and meme designers.
With depth comes complexity. So that a lite version called Photoshop Elements was created for those users who did not need all of that image power. And in 2013, Adobe came out with Lightroom which was designed specifically for photographers.
A Beginners Guide: Photoshop Toolbar and Tools
Photoshop has many useful keyboard shortcuts. In this case, instead of right-clicking on the tool, you can press “W” and then “Shift-W” to toggle between the two tools.
Another useful feature in Photoshop CC is that when you select a tool, a little video pops up showing how the tool works. It’s a nice way to reinforce the fact that you have the correct tool.
How To Customize Photoshop Toolbar
From the Edit menu, you can select the Tools… option. The Customize Toolbar window displays to allow you to customize the toolbar depending on your workflow.
- Group tools together
- Hide little-used tools
- Display a tool on the Photoshop Toolbar instead of it being nested
- Change the keyboard shortcut for a tool
- Save the customized Photoshop Toolbar to a preset to use at another time
The Photoshop Toolbar can be displayed as a single row or a double row by selecting the two arrows at the top of it.
You can also grab the top bar and drag the Photoshop Toolbar wherever you wish on the Photoshop canvas. We will look at the Photoshop tools in no specific order.
How to Get Toolbar Back in Photoshop
But what happens if I somehow lose the Toolbar? To show the Photoshop Toolbar, simply click the Window menu and then Tools.
Most commonly used Photoshop tools at a Glance
- Move Tool – To move a part of any image.
- Marquee Tools – To give any particular shape of an image.
- Lasso Tools – To make any selection on an image.
- Quick Selection Tool/Magic Wand Tool – To make a quick selection.
- Crop Tool – To crop any part of an image.
- Eyedropper Tool – To sample a color from any image.
- Spot Healing Brush/Healing Brush/Patch Tool/Content-Aware Move Tool/Red Eye Tool – To fill or remove in any area in an image.
- Brush Tool – To retouch the image.
- Clone Stamp Tool/Pattern Stamp Tool – To clone of copy image information.
- History Brush Tool – To undo any tool used earlier.
- Eraser Tool/Background Eraser Tool/Magic Eraser Tool – To remove any section of an image.
- Blur Tool/Smudge Tool/Sharpen Tool – To blend color in various ranges.
- Dodge Tool – To highlight in different tone on any image.
- Text Tool – To write text anyway.
- Pen Tool – To draw paths around objects.
- Shape Tools – To give various shapes.
- Hand Tool – To move any area of an image.
- Zoom Tool – To zoom in and zoom out.
We will be using the following image whenever possible to demonstrate each tool.
1. Move Tool
The Move Tool allows you to move part of a layered image to a new location. The very first thing that you need to know about the Move Tool that it only works when there is something to move inside the image. If your image has one layer and it is locked, the Move Tool cannot do anything to move the image. You need at least two layers to use the Move Tool. You can also use Move Tool with a single layer provided the single layer is unlocked.
In the image below, the window to the left of the model is in its own layer.
Select the Move Tool and drag the window to another position.
2. Marquee Tools
There are several marquee tools that allow you to select areas in an image.
NOTE: With any of the selection tools, you can hold shift to add to your selection, and hold option/alt to subtract from the selection.
I. The Rectangular Marquee Tool
It makes a rectangular selection on your Photoshop image.
II. The Elliptical Marquee Tool
It allows you to make a round selection.
III. The Single Row Marquee Tool
It makes a 1px horizontal selection that spans the total width of your image. This can be used to create a 1px repeating pattern for your website content.
IV. The Single Column Marquee Tool
It makes a 1px vertical selection that spans the total height of your image. This can be used to create a 1px repeating pattern for your website content.
3. Lasso Tools
There are several lasso tools that also allow you to make selections.
I. Lasso Tool
The Lasso Tool lets you make loose selections around anything on a layer just like a lasso. It has the same options as the marquee tools.
II. Polygonal Lasso Tool
The Polygonal Lasso Tool allows you to make selections, but only in a linear way. That is, you can only draw straight lines for your selections.
III. Magnetic Lasso Tool
The Magnetic Lasso Tool allows you to drag your mouse over the edges of an image, it determines where the edges are, and anchor points are placed at regular intervals. This gives you a very close and controlled selection.
4. Quick Selection Tool/Magic Wand Tool
These two tools allow you to make quick selections in slightly different ways.
I. Quick Selection Tool
The Quick Selection Tool makes a selection based on the edges of objects. As it is with the name, it makes selections quickly, and you can just drag over the areas that you want to select.
II. Magic Wand Tool
The Magic Wand Tool makes a selection based on where you click your mouse. As with other selection tools, you can hold Shift to add to the selection and hold Option/Alt to take away from your selection.
5. Crop Tool
As we mentioned before, you can also see a short video of each tool to make sure you have the correct one for your workflow as seen above.
I. Crop Tool
The Crop Tool allows you to crop an image to the sizes that you want. You can input a set ratio, such as 4 x 6 in the ratio, or you can also set a fixed size and resolution for your cropped image.
II. Perspective Crop Tool
III. Slice Tool
IV. Slice Select Tool
How to Use Crop Tool in Photoshop?LEARN MORE
6. Eyedropper Tool
I. Eyedropper Tool
The Eyedropper Tool allows you to sample a color from any image so that you can use it in your work. You can control the color area that it samples; it can sample a pixel, or it can sample a range of pixels. Also, you can sample the current layer or all layers.
II. 3D Material Eyedropper Tool
III. Color Sampler Tool
The Color Sampler Tool allows you to sample up to four areas of color within your image so that you can have information about those colors. Like the Eyedropper Tool, you can determine the range of pixels that it samples.
IV. Ruler Tool
V. Note Tool
VI. Count Tool
7. Spot Healing Brush/Healing Brush/Patch Tool/Content-Aware Move Tool/Red Eye Tool
I. Spot Healing Brush Tool
The Spot Healing Brush is a great tool for removing blemishes from images. It works with a simple click of the mouse by sampling the surrounding areas and blending the blemish away.
II. Healing Brush Tool
The Healing Brush Tool allows you to brush out blemishes and areas that aren’t desired in your images. Unlike the Spot Healing Brush, the Healing brush requires you to select a reference point.
How to Use the Healing
Brush Tool in Photoshop
III. Patch Tool
The Patch Tool is a great tool where you can make a selection that is similar to the Lasso Tool. Once the selection is made, you can click and drag it to the area to fill it with and when you release it, it patches that area with the selected content.
IV. Content-Aware Move Tool
The Content-Aware Move Tool intelligently tries to fill in any moved content with what it perceives to be there. For example, a rowboat on a beach can be moved, and Photoshop will try to fill in the sand that would be behind the boat.
V. Red Eye Tool
The Red Eye Tool is a quick way to click on portions of an image that have red-eye and remove them instantly.
8. Brush Tool
I. Brush Tool
The Brush Tool is one of the most important tools that are in your Photoshop toolbox. You will probably use the Brush Tool more than any other tool in Photoshop, especially if you are retouching images. You can change the size of the brush, how hard it is, its shape, texture, opacity, flow, and more.
II. Pencil Tool
The Pencil Tool allows you to draw on an image like you were using a real pencil, hence the name.
9. Clone Stamp Tool/Pattern Stamp Tool
I. Clone Stamp Tool
The Clone Stamp Tool is used to clone or copy image information from one area to another. You can hold the Option/Alt key and click an area of an image. Then, click the image to brush with the color and image information that you sampled.
II. Pattern Stamp Tool
The Pattern Stamp Tool gives you the ability to use a brush-type tool to paint a pattern or texture on your image.
III. Color Replacement Tool
IV. Mixer Brush Tool
10. History Brush Tool
I. History Brush Tool
With this tool, you can paint with an image snapshot in a different layer. This lets you bring in details from a previous point in your work. It’s like an Undo feature.
I. Art History Brush Tool
11. Eraser Tools
I. Eraser Tool
The Eraser Tool removes pixel information from your image just like a real eraser. You use brushes, which you can specify just like any other brush-related tool in Photoshop such as hardness, shape, texture, opacity, and flow.
II. Background Eraser Tool
The Background Eraser Tool is an awesome tool for removing the background from an image. Click and drag the eraser along the edges of an image and its background and it will remove the background. This isn’t perfect but it goes a long way toward the goal.
III. Magic Eraser Tool
The Magic Eraser Tool removes a section of the background of an image and is based on the area that you click on. It does a good job, but sometimes it removes areas that aren’t necessary, requiring some trial and error.
12. Blur Tool/ Smudge Tool/ Sharpen Tool
I. Blur Tool
The Blur Tool lets you blur parts of an image, which can help with harsh contrasts between images. Like the Sharpen Tool, it behaves just like a brush and gives you accurate results.
II. Sharpen Tool
The Sharpen Tool gives you the ability to sharpen areas of an image by painting on them. This gives you a lot of control and accuracy when sharpening images.
III. Smudge Tool
The Smudge Tool works like a brush too, but it “smudges” pixels and allows you to push them around. It allows you to blend and transition colors easily.
13. Dodge Tool/Burn Tool/Sponge Tool
I. Dodge Tool
The Dodge Tool lets you paint in highlights in the different tone ranges of your images.
The Dodge Tool. Note how the hair and dress are lighter and brighter colors.
II. Burn Tool
The Burn Tool lets you paint to dehighlights in the different tone ranges of your images.
III. Sponge Tool
The Sponge Tool lets you paint in a grey color.
14. Text Tool
The Text Tool is the main tool for creating your type in Photoshop.
I. Horizontal Type Tool
The Horizontal Type Tool lets you type horizontally for normal text.
II. Vertical Type Tool
The Vertical Type Tool lets you type vertically instead of the traditional horizontal method.
15. Pen Tool
I. Pen Tool
With the Pen Tool, you can draw paths for use in your work. Print designers use the Pen Tool in Photoshop to draw paths around objects for their projects. Many print design software such as Quark and InDesign allow you to use clipping paths embedded from Photoshop so that there are no backgrounds around your images.
II. Freeform Pen Tool
III. Curvature Pen Tool
IV. Add Anchor Point Tool
V. Delete Anchor Point Tool
VI. Convert Point Tool
How to Use Pen Tool in Photoshop to Make Clipping Paths?LEARN MORE
16. Shape Tools
Different shape tools allow you to draw different shapes based on paths or vector shape layers, which gives you well-defined lines.
I. Rectangle Tool
The rectangle shape tool allows you to create a rectangle shape.
II. Rounded Rectangle Tool
The rounded rectangle shape tool allows you to create a rounded rectangle shape.
III. Ellipse Tool
The ellipse shape tool allows you to create a perfect rounded shape.
IV. Polygon Tool
The polygon shape tool allows you to create a polygon shape.
V. Line Tool
The line tool allows you to create a straight-line shape.
VI. Custom Shape Tool
The custom shape tool allows you to draw custom shapes.
17. Hand Tool
I. Hand Tool
The Hand Tool lets you move to any area of an image without accidentally dragging around a layer of an object on a layer. You can quickly switch to the Hand Tool any time just by holding the space bar.
II. Rotate View Tool
18. Zoom Tool
I. Zoom Tool
The Zoom Tool is used to zoom in and out of your image. It is most commonly used when you want to zoom in on a specific part of an image. You simply click and drag a selection of an image and Photoshop will zoom in on that area.
So there you have a discussion of the more commonly used tools. Take some time with your favourite images to explore these tools in Adobe Photoshop. Happy Practicing :)