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Toolbox for image editing

Adobe Photoshop's panel of image-editing tools


When reviewing pictures taken with your digital camera, you will probably want to edit them to look their best. You do so using the tools and features in an image-editing application such as Adobe Photoshop, the overwhelming software choice of professional photographers and graphic artists.

Other image-editing programs offer tools and features that function in a similar manner, although their interfaces will be different. Many of these programs, such as Photoshop Elements or Corel PhotoImpact, to name only two, are quite good, but none have the enormously-wide range of Photoshop.

It would be difficult and potentially confusing to describe the tools available in every image-editing program that’s out there, so we are confining ourselves to those available in Photoshop. You will undoubtedly find that many of their functions are replicated in other programs to one degree or another, with a number of them performing in exactly the same manner.

The chart below shows those tools that are available to you in the Adobe Photoshop "Toolbox."

Many similar tools and functions are found in other image-editing applications.
Many similar tools and functions are found in other image-editing applications.

The Tools panel (the column in the center of the chart above) shows the icons (symbols) for twenty tools plus the color picker icons at the bottom. But, there are many more than twenty tools in the Adobe Photoshop tool box. Note that some tools have options that appear in the options bar, which is context-sensitive.

The toolbox also displays the current foreground and background colors at the bottom. The foreground color is in the higher, overlapping left-hand square; the background color is shown in the lower right square.

When you open Photoshop, the Tools panel will be on the left of your screen.

Place the cursor over a tool, and the tool's name appears in a "tool tip" below the pointer. You will also see a letter in brackets following the tool's name. For example, hovering over the Hand tool's icon reveals its name and shows the letter "H" in brackets (see below). Similarly, the Brush tool is identified by the letter (B); the Eraser tool by (E), and so on.

Hovering over a tool's icon reveals its name and its identifying letter.
Hovering over a tool's icon reveals its name and its identifying letter.

When you are editing an image and wish to switch to another tool, just type that tool's letter and - Shazam! - you're working with it, just like that. Let's say you're using the Clone stamp tool (S) and wish to quickly move the image so you can see and work on its hidden areas. Type the letter "H" and your cursor instantly becomes the Hand tool, which you use to move the image as you wish. Once that is accomplished, type "S" and you've got the Clone stamp tool back again so you can continue editing with it.

Clicking and holding on a tool icon in most cases reveals additional tools. A little triangle on the lower right of the tool icon indicates the presence of hidden tools. For example, clicking and holding on the teardrop-shaped Blur tool's icon reveals that Smudge and Sharpen tools are also accessed through this icon. You select the Smudge or Sharpen tool from the Blur tool's pop-out menu.

Clicking and holding on a tool icon reveals other tools.
Clicking and holding on a tool icon reveals other tools.

Photoshop's tools are used to perform functions and operations similar to those that darkroom technicians performed when film was in vogue.

The Crop tool, for example, lives up its name by letting you crop a digital image. (It also allows you to rotate the image before cropping it.) With Photoshop's tools, you can add and remove elements from an image; burn or dodge portions of a composition, thereby lightening or darkening them; and add type to spell words in a huge number of fonts, making the words an integral part of an image.

Simple editing changes accomplished in minutes using the crop, ellipse and text tools.
Simple editing changes accomplished in minutes using the crop, ellipse and text tools.

The picture above of a bear statue was first cropped using the Crop tool to better fill the frame, then the Ellipse tool created a word balloon in which the text "Mmmm. Sure would like some hunny to snack on." appears, thanks to the Type tool.

Tool options bar

The tool options bar is found on the Adobe Photoshop workspace near the top.

When you select a tool from the toolbox, the tool options bar changes to show you the options - controls and specifications - for that particular tool. The options bar is context-sensitive. Select another tool, and the tool options bar changes, too.

The tool options bar shown below presents the options available for the Clone stamp tool. You will note that The Clone stamp icon appears at the far left of the options bar.

The Tool Options Bar provides you with access to a particular tool's controls and options.
The Tool Options Bar provides you with access to a particular tool's controls and options.

You will come across various tools and their functions, and tips and advice for using them, throughout PhotographyTips.com.

You can begin familiarizing yourself with some of the tools by clicking on the links below. As more and more tools are described, links to them will appear on this page, and we encourage you to return here periodically for further information.

 
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Object removal

Cropping digital images

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