THE PAIGE!!!!

Photoshop Basics

The Options Palette

sshot-492
sshot-492

At the top of your screen, directly under your menus, you’ll see the options palette. When you select different tools, you’ll have the various options you can edit here. Each tool is complex without these options, and can become extremely powerful with knowledge of its options.

What’s in the Toolbox?

marquee
marquee

Rectangular Marquee Tool: Shortcut key
m
m
. The basic selection tool, marquee, AKA “Marching Ants” allows you to select areas of layers or flattened photographs. Shift + M will cycle through to the various other selection tools, including the ellipse tool. You can hold Shift while drawing marquees to create squares.

move tool
move tool

Move Tool: Shortcut key
v
v
. The basic move tool. Once you select an area, choose the move tool to move it around. You can also move whole layers without selecting them.

lasso
lasso

Lasso Tool: Shortcut key
L
L
. Another selection tool, allows you to draw quick, shaped selections around parts of your image. Shift + L will cycle through the alternate lasso tools, including Polygonal Lasso and Magnetic Lasso tools.

quick selection
quick selection

Quick Selection Tool: Shortcut key
w
w
. A rough selection tool that works like a paintbrush. Brush around in an area, and Photoshop will read your image and try and guess what you’re trying to select. Press Shift + W to get the indispensible magic wand tool, which is a Bucket Fill or Flood style tool for selections.

crop
crop

Crop Tool: Shortcut key
c
c
. Draws rectangular selections, then cuts your image down to the rectangle you draw. Very useful for straightening crooked images. Press Shift + C to pick the Slice Tool and Slice Select tools, useful for creating multiple images from a single one, usually for web content.

eyedropper
eyedropper

Eyedropper Tool: Shortcut key
i
i
. Picks a color from any document you have open. Shift + I will cycle through the tools: Color Sampler, Ruler, and Note Tool.

healing brush
healing brush

Spot Healing Brush Tool: Shortcut key
j
j
. Useful for erasing blemishes, scratches or unwanted noise from images automatically by painting over them. Press Shift + J to find the Healing Brush, Patch Tool, and Red Eye tools.

brush
brush

Brush Tool: Shortcut key
b
b
. The single most complex tool in the toolbox. Many articles on the brush tool to come, but for now, paint with left mouse clicks, and select different brush styles with right mouse clicks. Shift + B cycles through to the Pencil, Color Replacement Tool, and Mixer Brushes, all worth experimentation.

clone stamp tool
clone stamp tool

Clone Stamp Tool: Shortcut key
s
s
. Another photo-editing brush, Alt and Click to set a “Source” and then paint with the Left mouse button to copy from your source. Shift + S also gives you the pattern stamp tool.

history brush
history brush

History Brush Tool: Shortcut key
y
y
. Working in tandem with your History Palette, you can paint “back in time,” so to speak. Use a filter, then selectively undo parts of it with the History Brush. The Art History Brush is buried underneath here, accessible with a Shift + Y.

eraser
eraser

Eraser Tool: Shortcut key
e
e
. Erases layers to transparency, and locked or Background Layers down to the Background Color. Shift + E will cycle through the Magic Eraser and the Background Eraser tool.

gradient tool
gradient tool

Gradient Tool: Shortcut key
g
g
. Clicking and dragging will fill your layer with a basic gradient using your foreground and background tools. The options palette has a lot of different gradients to use. Hidden under the Gradient Tool is the Paint Bucket Tool. Shift + G will cycle through to it. Use the Paint Bucket to fill areas of similar color in your image.

blur tool
blur tool

Blur, Sharpen, and Smudge Tools: By default, no shortcut key. These are three photo editing tools that do exactly what they say. Smudge, in particular, can create excellent painterly effects in your images. Left click and hold to bring up the contextual menu and pick the “buried” Sharpen and Smudge tools.

dodge tool
dodge tool

Dodge and Burn Tools: Shortcut key
o
o
. Dodge and Burn are photo editing tools that lighten and darken images, respectively. This tool is not the zoom tool, as confusing as it may look. Shift + O cycles between the two of them.

pen tool
pen tool

Pen Tool: Shortcut key
p
p
. A nightmarish frustration for beginner users, the Pen Tool is tough to get used to, but a favorite of Photoshop Pros. Similar to the Pen Tool in Adobe Illustrator, works in tandem with the Paths Palette. Shift + P will give you alternate Pen tools related to working with paths.

text tool
text tool

Type Tool: Shortcut key
t
t
. Allows you to set typography, by default horizonally. Shift + T will give you the Vertical Type Tool, as well as the Type Mask Tools.

path selection tool
path selection tool

Path Selection and Direct Selection Tools: Shortcut key
a
a
. More tools made for editing paths in the path palette. Ignore unless you’re trying to learn the Pen Tool. Path selection picks whole paths, while Direct Selection picks line segments or points within paths. Cycle with Shift + A.

custom shape tool
custom shape tool

Custom Shape Tool: Shortcut key
u
u
. Bizarre tool for creating clipart type vector shapes from a library in the options palette. Shift + U will also give you the more helpful tools for rectangles, polygons, and lines, all helpful for learning paths in Photoshop without suffering through the pen tool.

zoom tool
zoom tool

Zoom Tool: Shortcut key
z
z
. Yes, this is the real zoom tool and not the Dodge tool. Zoom in with left clicks, zoom out with ALT plus Left Clicks. This is likely the most basic tool in the toolbox.

hand tool
hand tool

Hand Tool: Shortcut key
h
h
. Scrolls your document without using the scrollwheel or scroll arrows. Press and hold the Space Bar at any time to use the quick Hand Tool, release Space to return to your previous tool.

Foreground Background colors
Foreground Background colors

Background/Foreground: The active colors you are painting with. The top color is Foreground, the back Background.
x
x
swaps the two colors.
d
d
reverts them to the default colors, black and white.

quick mask mode
quick mask mode

Quick Mask Mode: Shortcut key
q
q
. An alternate mode for creating complex selections with the Brush, Eraser, and Paint Bucket tools. The Q key toggles to and from Quick Mask Mode.
=


Layers

sshot-659
sshot-659

The lasso tool creates a selection in any shape: in this case, the word “Layer” is drawn in. But the lasso does not create a new layer, even though we can use the lasso tool to move our selection around.
sshot-661
sshot-661

New layers can be created by clicking the
new layer
new layer
button in the Layers panel. You can also press
ctrl shift N
ctrl shift N
for a blank layer.
You can think of these layers as entirely new image files stacked on top of each other in your layers panel. By default, a new layer is transparent.
sshot-662
sshot-662

A simple Edit > Fill fills our selection with black. We’ve put it in a new layer, which will help us understand what a new layer is.
sshot-663
sshot-663

Our black fill exists in a new layer. We no longer need our selection, so pressing
ctrl d
ctrl d
deselects it.
sshot-664
sshot-664

While this may look like a ruined image of the Apollo 11 rocket taking off, the drawn “Layer” text exists in its own separate layer, and is editable.
sshot-666
sshot-666

The Move Tool, shortcut key
v
v
, illustrated above, is used for moving the layers selected in your layers panel.
sshot-667
sshot-667

The image of the shuttle still exists beneath the new filled layer. It can be moved to any position without destroying any part of the layer below it.
sshot-691
sshot-691

Individual layers can be moved, rotated, and transformed at your whim.
sshot-668
sshot-668

And again, since layers exist independent of each other, they do not have to affect each other.
sshot-670
sshot-670

Returning to a few older How-Tos, we can very simply add objects that have had their backgrounds removed to our image.
sshot-671
sshot-671

Simply use the Move Tool (shortcut
v
v
key) to drag images from any open file to the one you’re working with. Photoshop will create a new layer in your target file with the dragged layer information in it.
sshot-672
sshot-672

This image has quickly become ridiculous. Clicking the
hide layer
hide layer
in the side of the layers panel will hide any layer you don’t care to see.
sshot-673
sshot-673

Shortcut key
t
t
will give you the Type tool, which can create a different type of layer. Live type is editable, and can be changed at any time without disturbing other layers.
sshot-674
sshot-674

Layers also have “Blending Options,” as illustrated in the contextual menu here. Right click on any of the layers in your layers panel to open this menu.
sshot-676
sshot-676

Blending Options takes us to the Layer Style dialog box. Here, we can add shadows and glows, all editable at any time through this same menu.
sshot-678
sshot-678

After adding a stroke to the text layer, other effects can also be added. A soft, white glow can make the text more legible against the complicated background.
sshot-679
sshot-679

Even with these layer effects, these layers are still editable.
sshot-681
sshot-681

The text can easily be set in a different font, with all layer effects staying active.
sshot-682
sshot-682

The layer effects look something like this in your layers panel.
sshot-684
sshot-684

In your layers panel, you can click the
adjustment layer
adjustment layer
to create a different type of layer, called an Adjustment Layer.
sshot-683
sshot-683

CS5 brings up this “Adjustments” panel. I create a “Photo Filter” adjustment layer to give my image a sepia tone effect.
sshot-685
sshot-685

Adjustment layers also have a position in your layers panel and only affect the layers below. In other words, you can move your adjustment layers to affect the layers below it. I have my text above my Sepia Adjustment Layer, keeping it from turning sepia toned.
sshot-686
sshot-686

There are many options for Adjustment Layers, including the “Gradient” adjustment layer.
sshot-687
sshot-687

Gradients are great as adjustment layers, as they can easily be re-edited and adjusted. You’ll have numerous options for types of gradients, colors, angles, etc.
sshot-688
sshot-688

Adjustment layers can be hidden or edited by double clicking them in the layers panel.
sshot-690
sshot-690

Simple mastery of layers and the layers panel will greatly increase your ability to use Photoshop and get the effects you want to see in your photography.
Come back to How-To Geek for the next section of the HTG Guide to Learning Photoshop, and learn more about the menus and options most useful for editing your photographs.
Image credits: Apollo 11 image created by NASA, in public domain. Information about other images available on their original tutorials.