Using the Tools in the Toolbox

Our next stop is the toolbox, at the left side of the screen. For reference, it is shown in Figure 21.7. It's like an artist's work table or paint box that holds all the tools you'll use to draw, paint, erase, and otherwise work on your picture. There are sets of tools to select, to draw and paint, to blur and sharpen, and to place type in the picture.

Figure 21.7. You must first click on a tool to select it.


The toolbox has additional tools hidden wherever you see a black arrowhead. Click and hold on any tool with an arrowhead , and the additional tools associated with it will pop out on a short menu. Figure 21.8 shows the tools that are normally hidden in the Type tool menu.

Figure 21.8. An example of additional tools normally hidden in the Type tool menu.



The colorful icon at the top of the toolbox takes you, by way of the Web, to Once there, you can find and download program updates, advice, and excellent tutorials. Check this site frequently.

Selection Tools

The first section of the toolbox contains a group of tools called Selection tools. They are used to select all or part of a picture. There are four kinds: the Marquees, the Lassos, the Selection Brush, and the Magic Wand. When you select an area of the screen with the Marquee tools, a blinking selection border surrounds it. (The Marquee tools are named after the lights on movie theater marquees that flash on and off.) The Marquees make their selections as you click and drag the tool over the part of an image you want to select, drawing a box or circle.

The Lasso tools ”three in all ”draw a line as you click and drag the tip of the lasso across the page. Draw part of a free-form shape, and Elements will complete the shape automatically with a straight line from where you stopped back to the start. There are also Lassos to select by drawing straight path segments instead of a free-form line, and to select "magnetically" by separating an object from its background. Figure 21.9 shows the selections that result from using these tools.

Figure 21.9. Each Lasso tool makes a different kind of selection.


The Selection Brush simply selects anything you paint over. Given that there are hundreds of standard paintbrushes, plus any you design yourself, this tool can be enormously flexible. Select it and drag your paintbrush over anything you want to turn into a selection. This tool doesn't exist in the "big" Photoshop program. I wish it did. You can use it to create masks over areas you want to protect when you're changing another part of the image. For instance, say you're working on a portrait of a lady, and you need to lighten her hair without bleaching out her face. Paint around the hair, or if it's easier, paint only the hair and then invert the selection so you've selected everything but the hair.

The Magic Wand tool selects by color. You can set the amount of similarity it demands, and just click to select all pixels of that color , or all adjacent pixels that match.

The final tools in this section of the toolbox are the Move tool and the Crop tool. After you have made a selection, use the Move tool to drag the selected area to another place on the image. The Crop tool works just like the rectangular Marquee tool, in that you drag a bounding box to surround the part of the picture you are keeping. When you do so, the area outside the box turns gray. You can drag a side to make the bounding box bigger or smaller. When you're done adjusting the box, double-clicking in the box removes everything outside it.

Painting Tools

Elements has an impressive set of Painting tools: Brushes, a Pencil, an Eraser, and Paint Bucket and Gradient tools. These all apply color to the screen in one way or another, just like the real tools they imitate. You can change the width and angle for the Pencil and Brush tools. The Brush tool and the Impressionist Brush share a space in the toolbox. The latter simulates different kinds of brushstrokes. Though there isn't a lot of use for it in photo correction or enhancement, it's fun to play with. The Red Eye Brush simply finds the odd color and replaces it with the correct eye color. Two clicks and your " devil eyes" photos can be pictures of saints. Many of these tools are covered throughout this section of the book, in chapters that discuss how to make specific types of repairs on photos and how to create an image from scratch. There are also various erasers that, as you might expect, take away part of the picture. You can use a block eraser, or erase with any of the paintbrush or airbrush shapes . There are two special-purpose erasers: the Background and Magic Erasers. Use them to automatically erase a selected part of the image. The Paint Bucket, also called the Fill tool by some people, pours paint (the Foreground color) into any contiguous area you select. (If no area is selected, it'll fill the whole image.) The Gradient tool lets you create backgrounds that shade from one color to another, or even all the way through the color spectrum.

Finally, there is a vector tool that draws shapes (the Custom Shape tool) and another that places type (Horizontal Type) as vectors ”shapes defined by their outline rather than as bitmaps (tiny dots that form a shape). When you use these tools, you don't get the jagged effect you otherwise would when building an object from individual pixels because a vector image can be resized and its resolution adjusted without any effect on the clarity of the image. Figure 21.10 shows the difference between bitmapped and vector text and drawn lines. As you can see, the bitmapped text is ragged around the edges, especially when it's enlarged. Look closely at the curves of the b , t , m , a , p , e , and d to see this effect. The bitmapped line shares the same fate ”it has bumps along its sides. The vector text and line, on the other hand, is quite smooth, regardless of the size at which you view it.

Figure 21.10. Vector type versus bitmapped type.


Toning Tools

Toning tools are tools that move, blur, and change the intensity of the image. The Blur, Sharpen, and Smudge tools change the level of focus and the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tools change the degree of darkness or lightness of selected pixels. These tools will be covered in detail in Chapter 24, "Fixing Photo Flaws."

Viewing Tools

There are two Viewing tools: the Hand tool and the Zoom tool. The Zoom tool is shaped like an old-fashioned magnifying glass, and the Hand, not surprisingly, like a hand. The Zoom tool lets you zoom in by clicking the tool on the canvas to see a magnified view of your picture, or zoom out by pressing Option as you click the image. You can also click and drag the Zoom tool to enlarge a specific part of the image. When you zoom in, the picture is usually too big to see all at once. The hand moves it within the window and is helpful after you use the Zoom tool to enlarge the picture. Use the hand to slide the part of the picture you want to see or work on into a convenient spot.

Special Tools

There are two tools that don't quite fit into any category. The Clone Stamp tool copies a piece of the existing picture and pastes it somewhere else. The eyedropper picks up a sample of color, which you can make the active color or add to your Swatches palette. We'll talk more about these when we use them for photo correction in Chapter 24.


Finally, there are two large blocks of color displayed at the bottom of the toolbox. They are your foreground and background colors, and by default they are black and white, respectively. Change them by clicking once on the appropriate square to open the Color Picker. There, you can click to select any color you like. The foreground color (logically, the one on top) is the color you'll apply when you paint a brushstroke, place type, or do anything that leaves a mark on the page.

Tool Shortcuts

You can select any of these tools by clicking its icon in the toolbox, but Elements gives you another, even easier way to access the tools. Instead of clicking the tools you want to use, you can type a single letter shortcut to select each tool. To toggle through the available tools where there are pop-up menus , press Shift plus the shortcut letter until you reach the tool you want. Table 21.1 lists the tools with their shortcuts. Dog-ear this page so you can refer to the table until you have memorized the shortcuts.

Table 21.1. Tools and Their Shortcuts











Magic Wand


Selection Brush




Custom Shape




Paint Bucket










Red EyeBrush














Clone Stamp








Switch Colors


Return to Default Colors


Sams Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media. All In One
Sams Teach Yourself Mac OS X Digital Media All In One
ISBN: 0672325322
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 349 © 2008-2017.
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