Photoshop Lesson #1 – Your Toolbar

I mentioned earlier that I’m teaching an upcoming Photoshop course at work. I’m not an expert but I can make my way around the tool. I’m going to start sharing my class in pieces. I’ve been doing research throughout my planning to make sure I’m calling things by their proper names (most of the time) and not telling any bold-faced lies.

One basic element of Photoshop is the toolbar. I’ve been using Photoshop for more than 10 years now and, despite updates in newer versions, the toolbar retains the same basic elements in each version. While looking up the name of each item to make sure what I called it was legit (healing brush tool versus Band-Aid tool), I made an important discovery that seems so obvious now.

When you scroll over the items in your toolbar, their name pops up. It’s a great way to double check that what you are selecting is indeed the thing you were going for. What also pops up is a letter in parentheses. This letter is the shortcut for selecting the tool. All you need to do is select the letter (as long as you’re not using the Type Tool) and voila! your tool is selected.

I am in love with keyboard shortcuts so this has sort of blown my mind.

Below is a screenshot of my toolbar (from CS5) along with labels and explanations.

For each of the items that has a small black triangle next to it, you can click on the triangle to find other variations of that tool. For the tools above, their functions are as follows:

  1. Rectangular Marquee Tool – Select part of your image, in the shape of a rectangle
  2. Lasso Tool – A free form selection tool that allows you to select parts of your image in whatever shape
  3. Crop Tool – Crop your image to your desired size and shape
  4. Healing Brush Tool – Similar to the Clone Stamp, the Healing Brush allows you to copy pixels from one part of your image and smartly repair other parts
  5. Clone Stamp Tool – Copy parts of your image over the top of others
  6. Eraser Tool – Erase parts of your image
  7. Smudge Tool – Smudge the pixels on part of your image to blur out imperfections or lines
  8. Pen Tool – Use your mouse to draw or write on your image as with a pen
  9. Path Selection Tool – I don’t use this nor do I have any idea what it really does so no explanation … sorry
  10. Object Rotate Tool – This is only for 3D images, which I don’t touch so no explanation … sorry
  11. Hand Tool – Manually move your image so you can work on different areas
  12. Set Foreground Color – Select a color to be working with for type of the paintbrush; the foreground color is the active color
  13. Move Tool – Move your image or parts of your image
  14. Magic Wand Tool – A selection tool that lets you choose parts of your image based on color
  15. Eyedropper Tool – Select the exact color from an image by clicking on it with the eyedropper
  16. Brush Tool – “Paint” on or add color to your image
  17. History Brush Tool – Works similarly to the Undo option in many programs such as Microsoft WordWord
  18. Gradient Tool – Create a gradient of two colors (foreground and background colors) across your canvas
  19. Dodge Tool – Lighten an area on your image
  20. Horizontal Type Tool – Add text to your image
  21. Rounded Rectangle Tool – Draw shapes on your image
  22. Camera Rotate Tool – This is only for 3D images, which I don’t touch so no explanation … sorry
  23. Zoom Tool – Enlarge your view of your image
  24. Set Background Color –The background color won’t be used as frequently but, for instance, if you expand your canvas size, the background color will be the background color of your canvas

See something you disagree with or think is just plain wrong? Tell me! Seriously – I want to know.

This post originally appeared on Kate’s Point of View. © Kate. All rights reserved.

3 thoughts on “Photoshop Lesson #1 – Your Toolbar

  1. Here some stuff I would like to know how to do or stuff you have shown me how to do:

    1. How to crop a file.
    2. How to save a file for:
    a. The web (don’t make it too big TWSS)
    b. For print (don’t make it too small and how do you know if you original file is going to look like a pixelated Lichtenstein if you choose to blow it up)
    3. How to change the color balance. This is the little mountain graph thing that usually make colors brighter and lightens up the pictures.
    4. When to save the file in PSD vs. JPG? This is pretty new stuff, but when you told me I thought it was pretty good feature.
    5. How to remove blemishes, zits and red eye?
    6. Don’t use MS Paint. It will give you herpes.
    7. How to configure a file for printing? Hope that makes sense. Example: You know you want to print 4X6 pics. How do you know your image size matches that?

  2. I’m glad you found it helpful Ally! I know you’re in the Cincinnati area. I’m taking a great class through the Cincinnati Civic Garden Center. It’s inexpensive, which I love, and taught by a UC DAAP instructor. I’ve learned a ton.

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