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Lesson 3: Tools and Palettes

Adobe Photoshop 6 Basics

                                                                                              

The Toolbox

In the last lesson, we learned just about everything we will need to prepare our workspace. In addition, we discussed how to create and open files in Photoshop. Being prepared before you begin your projects is essential to a positive and creative Photoshop experience.

In this lesson, we'll learn about Photoshop tools and palettes. One of Photoshop's greatest features is that almost everything you need to use Photoshop is right there on your screen when you launch the program. And if you don't need it, we'll teach you how to hide it! All you need to do is to recognize the layout and pick the options you need.

Like an artist, you need a place to keep all those nifty little brushes and tools you'll use to draw, paint, erase, or whatever other technique you like to use with your work. Photoshop gives you all that and more in that long floating Toolbox with all the tools conveniently grouped to make your life easier.

The four tool groups are shown in Figure 3-1.

  • Selection tools
  • Painting tools
  • View tools
  • Other tools

Figure 3-1: Tools in the Photoshop Toolbox are organized into groups.

I'm not going to give you an explanation of each tool here. Instead, I'll give you a brief overview of each tool group. You will learn more about individual tools in later lessons. For a comprehensive, illustrated explanation of what each tool does, check out Figure 1-1 of the color section located between lessons 8 and 9 in the Adobe Photoshop 6 Classroom in a Book, or page 2 in Adobe Photoshop 6 Visual QuickStart Guide.

Selection Tools

The four tools at the top of the Toolbox (Figure 3-2) are used to select all or part of an image. The Selection tools all work the same way: first select the tool, then click and drag over the section of the image you want to select. The tool in the upper right corner of the group is called the Move tool. Use it to drag your selection to another location within the image.

Figure 3-2: Selection tools

Painting Tools

The eight tools in the Painting tools group (Figure 3-3) allow you to add, remove, or modify paint on your image. Most of them closely resemble their counterparts from the art world, but the Art History brush is a Photoshop original: it allows you to replicate various painting styles from different periods in art history.

Figure 3-3: The Painting tool group.

Other Tools

This group of tools (shown in Figure 3-4) could easily be called "Useful tools that don't fit in any other group." With them, you can add type, measure dimensions, or add shading or gradients to colors or backgrounds. You can even pour paint onto your canvas.

Figure 3-4: Other tools.

View Tools

The View tools (shown in Figure 3.5) allow you to zoom in or out or move a part of an image to another area for a closer look. This feature is very helpful for particularly detailed work.

Figure 3-5: The View tools group.

Now that you understand the basic groups of tools available to you, let's try some out. Open an image in Photoshop, and try some of these tools by clicking on the tool, then clicking and dragging within the image. If you want to keep this image in its original form, be sure to save a copy of it that you can practice on. Or don't save the changes you make to the image before you close it.

  • Tips and Tricks Have you wondered about the small black triangle in the lower-right hand corner of some of the tools? It indicates that the tool button activates more than one tool. To make these tools visible, simply click and hold the mouse button on the tool, and there they are! Here is a trick to help you with the keyboard shortcuts everyone has trouble remembering: Position the mouse over any tool and you'll see both its name and its keyboard shortcut.

Palettes

You use Photoshop palettes to add effects, configure options, and keep an eye on the components of the active image. Some palettes provide information, including color type and dimensions; others allow you to change colors or brush sizes or to take a closer look at image layers. As we move forward in the lessons, we'll talk more about individual palettes with examples of how to use them. Figure 3-6 shows the palettes that are visible by default in Photoshop.

Figure 3-6: Photoshop palettes.

One of the great things about palettes is that you can move them around until you're happy. When you exit the program, the positions you've chosen are saved for the next time. If you want to go back to the default settings, simply go to the Preference tab in the File menu and click General, then choose "Reset Palette Locations to Defaults."

Moving On

In the next lesson, we'll start playing around with images. You will learn more about working with some of the tools along with different techniques. You'll be surprised at just how much you can accomplish in such a short time.

Don't forget to tackle the quiz and do the assignment. It'll help you to remember some of the tricky stuff we've talked about in this lesson. And go to the message board to see what other students are saying. Your instructor is there to help.

Next Lesson: Adobe Photoshop 6 Basics Lesson 4: Make Your Selection Please

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