118. Fill an Area with a Color or Pattern
Before You Begin
70 About Making Selections
110 About the Toolbox
112 About Preset Manager
116 Paint an Area of a Photo with a Brush
119 Fill an Area with a Gradient
The Brush toolparticularly its Airbrush subspeciesis a tool to be used with finesse. Use the Brush tools to fill constrained areas, often with feathered edges. The Paint Bucket, on the other hand, is more like throwing a bucket of paint at the side of a barn. It fills large areas with a color or pattern and does it with a single click.
Of course, there are limits on the Paint Bucket's barnside behavior; in fact, you'll probably want to apply some limits. Left to its own devices, the Paint Bucket identifies the color of the pixel on which you click and throws paint on every pixel of a similar color. The most important restraint is to adjust the tool's idea of what constitutes a "similar color." Do this with the Tolerance setting. The greater the tolerance, the greater the range of colors the tool will cover; a lower tolerance limits the color range. For example, you might want to change the color of someone's shirt. Folds and shadows create variations on the base color. Set the Tolerance to cover this range. Then, you can select the shirt, the whole shirt, and nothing but the shirt.
The Contiguous setting is also an important restraint on the Paint Bucket. When you enable this option, the Paint Bucket changes only neighboring pixels of similar color to those it has already changed. This is important if you want to restrain the area where the Paint Bucket is applied. With this option disabled, the tool searches the entire layer for similar colors and change every instance it finds. The results are unpredictable. The Paint Bucket also has Mode and Opacity settings that work as described in 111 About Tool Options.
Another way to prevent the Paint Bucket from going to excess is to first select the area where you want to apply the new color. Use any of the selection tools described in 70 About Making Selections. When you then apply the Paint Bucket, it affects only the selected area.
The Paint Bucket is not limted to sloshing paint. Open the Fill list in the Options bar and select the Pattern alternative. Then open the Pattern list just to the right and select a pattern. Instead of slopping on a single color, you can fill an area with the selected pattern. Patterns are useful ingredients of many illustrations. For example, you could use a pattern as a background or to set off an area of an illustration.
Pattern A design that repeats at regular intervals, like wallpaper.
Select the Paint Bucket Tool
Open an image in the Editor in Standard Edit mode and save it in Photoshop (*.psd) format. In the Layers palette, select the layer you want to fill. Click the Paint Bucket tool on the Toolbox.
Designate a Fill Area
To limit the area affected, select the area you want to fill using any selection tool. The fill operation cannot extend beyond the area you've selected. 70 About Making Selections explains how the selection tools work and how they can be useful in the context of filling areas.
To prevent transparent pixels from being filled, lock the layer's transparency by selecting the layer in the Layers palette and then clicking the Lock transparent pixels button at the top of the palette.
Choose a Pattern or Color
On the Options bar, select Foreground Color or Pattern from the Fill drop-down list. If you choose Foreground Color, be sure to set the foreground color swatch at the bottom of the Toolbox to the color you want to use for the fill. If you choose Pattern, open the Pattern drop-down list and select the pattern to use for the fill.
On the Options bar, set the Mode, Opacity, and Tolerance you want. The Tolerance value controls how similar pixels must be to the one you click in order to also be filled. A low Tolerance value means that pixels must be very close in color to the one you pick in order to be filled. A high Tolerance value fills more pixelseven fairly dissimilar ones to the pixel you click.
If you chose Anti-aliased, pixels along the edge of the filled area will be only partially filled with the color or pattern in order to soften the edge and make it less jagged. The Contiguous option allows you to fill pixels that are non-neighboring pixels. If you enable the Use All Layers option, even pixels on other layers will be filled if they are similar to the one you click.
You can define your own patterns and add them to the pattern libraries. Create a pattern with the tools, filters, effects, or layer styles, or pick one up from an image. Make a rectangular selection of the pattern with no feathering. Then choose Edit, Define Pattern from Selection from the menu bar. Name the pattern and click OK to add the pattern to the current library. See 112 About Preset Manager for help in managing the patterns you create.
Fill an Area
In the layer, click on a pixel you want to fill. The Paint Bucket fills similar pixels with the color or pattern you chose based on the options you set in step 3.
View the Result
After you're satisfied with the result, make any other changes you want and save the result in JPEG or TIFF format, leaving your PSD image with its layers (if any) intact so that you can return at a later time and make different adjustments if you want.
In this example, I used the Magic Wand to select what was originally a red shirt. This eliminated some juggling with the Paint Bucket's Tolerance setting to make sure that the paint covered only the shirt. Then I selected a pattern from the drop-down list in the Options bar and dumped it into the selected area. The man is suddenly wearing a brightly patterned shirt.