110. About the Toolbox
Before You Start
70 About Making Selections
91 About Layers and the Layers Palette
111 About Tool Options
112 About Preset Manager
The Toolbox is the work center of Photoshop Elements. Nearly everything you do begins here. For example, if you want to crop an image, the first thing you do is to select the Crop tool from the Toolbox.
Selecting a tool from the Toolbox determines what the mouse pointer will do when you move it over an image. To use the Crop tool example again, when you move the pointer over a picture, the mouse pointer takes on the distinctive shape of the crop pointer. This tells you Photoshop Elements is ready for you to crop out part of the image and throw away the rest.
Some of the Toolbox buttons have small arrows in their lower-right corners. This means the buttons lead to groups of related tools, only one of which is displayed on the button. For example, when the Rectangle shape tool is visible, it hides a host of other shape-drawing tools including the Ellipse, Polygon, Line and Custom Shape tools. Click and hold to see a menu of all the hidden tools under that button. You can select any tool on this menu. When the tool opens, its various settings and options are displayed on the Options bar, along with a complete presentation of all the alternative tools for the chosen Toolbox tool. For example, if you click and hold the Eraser tool, you'll see a menu from which you can select the Background Eraser tool. After you've done that, the options for the Background Eraser tool appear on the Options bar, where you can set how big the tool is, what method it uses, and how strong it will be. Also note that the three eraser tools are shown on the left end of the Options barthe Eraser, Background Eraser, and Magic Eraser toolsand you can select any of these alternative tools from the group at any time.
You may never perform every task in this book. That means you may not become familiar with the full contents of the Photoshop Elements Toolbox. So take a moment now to familiarize yourself with the available tools. To see the name of a particular tool, point to it with the mouse. If the tool's name appears in colored, underlined text, click that text to see the Help file that describes how to use the tool.
You also can select a Toolbox item by typing its keyboard shortcut. More accurately, each keyboard shortcut is associated with a slot in the Toolbox for a specific category of tool. The shortcut keys include N for the Pencil, E for the active eraser tool, K for the Paint Bucket, G for the Gradient tool, and U for the active shape tool. To cycle through the tools in a slot, repeatedly press its shortcut key. For example, if you repeatedly press U, you cycle through a variety of shape-drawing tools.
The Photoshop Elements Toolbox.
Most tools in the Toolbox have parallels, or near-parallels, with tools you'd use in the real world in drawing, painting, retouching photographs, or drafting. Here are the classes of tools in the toolbox, from top to bottom:
The Move tool lets you grab floating elements of an image, such as a small layer or a shape, and position them where you want them to appear. This tool also gives you options that let you alter, rotate, or distort any portion of an image that it can grab. It's featured in 99 Move, Resize, Skew, or Distort a Layer.
The Zoom tool lets you change the magnification of the image you're editing so that you can see any part of it up close; later, you can zoom back to see the whole image. This tool is featured in 55 Zoom In and Out with the Zoom Tool.
The Eyedropper tool samples the color of any point in your image and lets you apply that color to any other tool that uses color. This tool is featured in 114 Select a Color Already in Your Image.
The Hand tool lets you reposition an image in its window, just like you're scooting a paper on top of your desk. This tool is featured in 57 Scroll a Large Image.
The shape selection tools, such as the Rectangular Marquee tool, let you designate a four-sided or an elliptical area of the image, as the region where you can make changes (leaving the rest of the image intact). You learn to use these tools in 72 Select a Rectangular or Circular Area.
The drawn selection tools, such as the Lasso tool, let you draw a border around the area of the image where you want changes to be made (leaving the rest of the image intact). You see how to use these tools in 73 Draw a Selection Freehand.
You can pick up a color in an image for use with any tool by pressing Alt to change the mouse pointer into an eyedropper, and clicking that color in the image.
The Magic Wand tool lets you select a region of your image where you want to make changes based on the color of pixels in that image. This way, you can select "that bluish zone over there." This tool is featured in 76 Select Areas of Similar Color.
The Selection Brush tool lets you designate a region of your image that you want to change as though you could paint that region with a watercolor brush loaded with water alone, and the water could fill in that region. There are wonderful effects you can create with this tool, as explained in 77 Paint a Selection.
The text tools, such as the Horizontal Type tool, let you add captions and labels to your images and then bend or shape them to your whims. Chapter 24 covers the entire range of text tools, and the Horizontal Type Tool is featured in 183 Add a Text Caption or Label.
The Cookie Cutter tool lets you take any image or any layer of an image and cut it into a common shape, such as a heart or star or arrow. You'll see this tool put to use in 168 Create a Scrapbook Page.
The Crop tool is one of the most frequently used tools among all Photoshop Elements users. It does exactly what you think it doescuts an image to a smaller rectangular size. This tool is featured in 107 Crop a Portion of an Image.
The Red Eye Removal tool is almost self-explanatory. You use it to select the irises of your portrait subjects and watch as it removes the dramatic red glare caused by the direct flash of the camera. See 130 Correct Red Eye for details.
The Healing Brush toolsone of which, appropriately enough, is named the Healing Brush toolare used most effectively to hide or erase blemishes, cuts, insect bites, and other unwanted defects on a photograph. These tools are featured in 123 Remove Scratches.
The replication brush tools, such as the Clone Stamp tool, absorb or sample material from one area of an imageor from a different image entirelyand apply that material to another area. This way, for example, you can remove an unwanted logo from a shirt by sampling a different area of the shirt where there's no logo and brushing that area over the logo, completely obscuring it. These tools are featured in 162 Remove Unwanted Objects from an Image.
The Pencil tool is used to apply color directly to an image. The key difference between the Pencil and the Brush tool is subtle: Although the Pencil tool is capable of using the same "brush tips" as the Brush tool, it only applies hard-edged strokes to an image; the Brush tool can apply soft-edged strokes. The Pencil tool is featured in 115 Draw on a Photo with a Pencil.
The eraser tools, which include one called Eraser tool, removes unwanted pixels from a layer of an image. This is important for a reason other than just getting rid of stuff: By taking away pixels, an eraser tool trims or cuts out portions of a layer, leaving contents beneath that layer to show through. This is demonstrated in 97 Erase Part of a Layer.
The brush tools, such as the Impressionist Brush tool and the Brush tool, apply color directly to an image. One of the many places in this book that the Brush tool is discussed is 125 Repair Minor Tears, Scratches, Spots, and Stains. The Color Replacement tool in this set can apply one color only to spots where another specific color resides. This trick is demonstrated in 182 Make a Photograph Look Like Andy Warhol Painted It.
The Paint Bucket tool spills paint into an area, starting at the spot you click and extending to areas of a different color, or the borders of a selection or of the image itself. This tool is featured in 118 Fill an Area with a Pattern.
The Info palette displays color and position information about the pixel under the tool pointer. This is helpful in identifying an image color or using a tool more precisely. By default, color data is displayed in Web notation. To display RGB or HSL color data instead, click the Eyedropper icon on the Info palette. By default, inches are used as the unit of measurement. To change it, click the Crosshair icon on the palette.
The Gradient tool creates an interesting backdrop you can use for an image with multiple layers, generally by painting a large wash that graduates between one color and another. You see this demonstrated in 119 Fill an Area with a Gradient.
The shape tools, such as the Rectangle tool and the Polygon tool, don't just create pictures of filled geometric shapes in the middle of your image. They create objects that reside on their own layers, that you can bend and mangle and shape to build beautiful graphic enhancements, such as an embossed brass title plate or a transparent floating callout. You learn all about these tools in 120 About Drawing Shapes.
The contrast tools, such as the Blur tool and the Sharpen tool, can help create the illusion of fuzzier or sharper focus, respectively, to small selected parts of an image. This way, you can de-emphasize part of a photo so that it stops taking attention away from your subject, or create added contrast along an otherwise unimportant edge to help draw attention. The Sharpen tool is featured in 149 Sharpen an Image, while the Blur tool is demonstrated in 150 Blur an Image to Remove Noise.
The saturation toolsnamely, the Sponge tool, Dodge tool, and Burn toolapply some of the same tricks to a color image that a professional film developer would use in a darkroom to alter the color saturation and brightness at specific spots in an image. The Sponge tool is featured in 147 Adjust Saturation for a Specific Area, while the Dodge and Burn tools are both demonstrated in 140 Lighten or Darken Part of an Image.
Many users are already familiar with the Windows Color dialog box, which is already used in many Windows functionsfor instance, choosing a background color for the Desktop. Some users have stored some favorite color swatches in the Color dialog box for easy recall whenever they need them. If you prefer to use the Windows Color dialog box rather than the Adobe Color Picker, that can be arranged. From the Editor's menu bar, select Edit, Preferences, General. Then choose your preferred color choice tool from the Color Picker list.
Some color modes limit the number of colors in an image, and thus restrict the number of colors you can select from the Color Picker or save in the Color Swatches palette. See 63 Change Color Mode.
At the bottom of the Toolbox are swatches that represent the two solid colors that your tools can put to use in applying color to an image. The reason there are two color swatches is that the swatch behind the first box, called the background coloris often used in blending or in removing one color to reveal another. The foreground colorthe swatch on topis used predominantly by the Brush, Pencil, Paint Bucket, and other tools to apply color directly to an image. To select a different color for either swatch, click that box. Then choose a color from the Color Picker that opens. (Choosing colors is the subject of 113 Select a Color to Work With.)
If you've chosen a color you'd like to reuse, you can add it to the Color Swatches palette. Select Window, Color Swatches. The Swatches palette opens. Scroll down if necessary and point to an empty square. The pointer turns into the Eyedropper tool. Click the square. The foreground color is added to the palette, and a dialog box asks you to provide a name so that you can retrieve it later. Enter a name and click OK. See 113 Select a Color to Work With for information on how to apply the newly added color.