ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Useful Photoshop Tools

Updated on March 29, 2015
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

Useful Photoshop Tools

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

"Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics editor developed and published by Adobe Systems for Windows and OS X.

Photoshop was created in 1988 by Thomas and John Knoll. Since then, it has become the de facto industry standard in raster graphics editing, such that the terms "photoshopping" and "photoshop contest" were born. It can edit and compose raster images in multiple layers and supports masks, alpha compositing and several color models including RGB, CMYK, Lab color space (with capital L), spot color and duotone. Photoshop has vast support for graphic file formats but also uses its own PSD and PSB file formats which support all the aforementioned features. In addition to raster graphics, it has limited abilities to edit or render text, vector graphics (especially through clipping path), 3D graphics and video. Photoshop's featureset can be expanded byPhotoshop plug-ins, programs developed and distributed independently of Photoshop that can run inside it and offer new or enhanced features." Wikipedia

Like many digital photo editing software programs Photoshop has many tools that any photographer can use to enhance, shape, alter or manipulate any photograph.

However, it does not help if many of these tools are not fully understood and you tend to get their applications confused with other tools are their respective applications.

Some of the most confused tools are the stamp tool, the healing brush, the opacity tool , the fill tool, merge visible layers, and the flatten image tool.

Each has a specific purpose and to use them appropriately you need to really understand what each was designed to do.

For this you need to read as much as you can about each tool as well as to look at several examples of each tool in use in before and after selections.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Let's begin by defining what each tool is meant to do and although some work in similar ways to others each is distinctly separate and different from the others.

The stamp tool is very similar to the clone tool in that it takes pixels (parts of an image) and uses these pixels to replace pixels in another part of the photograph. It is very useful for removing imperfections from an image like dust spots, blemishes and so on.

Its most important application is for removing, or rather replacing pimples, and skin discolorations from the face area in a portrait.

For those who shoot film like I do, it is probably the most important tool in Photoshop. Film is very susceptible to dust particles and even the smallest ones can ruin a picture.

Click on a part that you want to copy like a perfect skin section then use the tool to replace unwanted parts. Follow the instructions in Photoshop but it is usually right click on the part you want and left click on the part that you do not want.

Better work with small areas one at a time and always remember that any part you click on will be replaced by the part you wanted and this can get tricky if the scene feature various degrees of light and dark areas as well as different degrees of coloration (not all face portions look the same for example).

Opacity sample

public domain
public domain | Source

The healing brush tool is also very useful for "repairing" unwanted areas.

The healing brush captures the texture and coloration of the area you took as the best sample you want and blends it with the color tone and texture of the area you are painting over.

The healing brush is most useful for removing small details from an image and the stamp tool is most useful for replacing something in the picture.

If you have an element in the scene like a tree branch that seems to protrude from a subject's head then the stamp tool is perfect for getting rid of it.

Do you understand these tools better now?

See results

The merge visible layers and the flatten tool. The merge visible layers mergers all visible layers with one another so it seems as if everything (color wise) belongs in the same place while the flatten tool will merge all layers (everything) and gets rid of the invisible layers.

The easiest way to think about these two tool is to think of subtle differences in color. One will blend subtle differences together while the other will eliminate the most subtle ones.

Healing brush tool

CC BY-ND 3.0
CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source

Creative (albeit strange) use of the clone stamp

(CC BY-SA 3.0
(CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

The next two easily confused Photoshop tools can be said to be Opacity and the Fill tool. One works the entire opacity of the image while the other only reduces opacity to a particular layer.

They are very similar in their application but keep in mind that the more you reduce the opacity the more "transparent" the entire image becomes to the point of being completely transparent and this occurs at the 0% point when the image is completely transparent.

The fill just makes a layer (part) of an image become "transparent" and the more you reduce it the more that portion becomes transparent until you reach the 0% mark. Think of a portrait of a lady. Opacity will make the entire portrait transparent while the fill will only make her "hair", for example, transparent.

Another useful tool is the Skin Glow Enhancement

CC BY-ND 3.0
CC BY-ND 3.0 | Source

These tools along with many more are ways to enhance your pictures and make them better in ways that were not possible before the introduction of the digital photographic age.

The bets thing that anyone willing to digitally edit pictures is to become familiar with the chosen program like Photoshop or Gimp, practice often and read as much as possible before venturing into doing any sort of digital editing with any photographs that mean something to you.

Use these and any other tools wisely and keep in mind that they should be used when you want to be creative and if you want to add some "humph" to your images but should never be abused or rather overdone to the point that the originality of the photograph is lost in all the digital editing. This off course is unless you are doing so purposelessly for a specific purpose..

However nothing is a suitable substitute for a good creative eye, a photographic mindset and good use of your skills as well as a thorough understanding of the limits and capabilities of your gear.

Nothing will ever replace the best piece of equipment which you possess and that is what is between your ears and inside your head...your brain!

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      DrBillSmithWriter: Thank you,glad you liked it

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      I've had Photoshop for years, but never really learned to use it. Thanks for sharing these really neat techniques! ;-)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)