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Intro to Photoshop--The Dodge and Burn, Pen, and Type Tools

Updated on July 29, 2019
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Denise has been mastering photography and Photoshop for many years and sells some of her work. She hires out her skills to help people.

Photo Composite in Photoshop

A good book can take you places.
A good book can take you places. | Source

Tools Help When You Know How They Work

If you are like me, new technology is intimidating. But there are some things that are just worth the effort. Adobe Photoshop is one of those. Don’t let the learning curve beat you. Like many things (music, art, dance), the more you practice, the better you get at it. This is the third part explaining the Tools in the toolbar.

One of the things that I did to practice was to assign myself weekly tasks, mostly with text effects, but also with photographs and photo-manipulation.

I have Photoshop CC as well as Adobe Photoshop CS5. There have been a few new advancements between the CS5 and the CS6 and the CC. Most of the tools are the same however and are used basically the same. There are a few differences that I will share along the way.

To begin, you have to know some of the basics, such as where to find certain tools and how to work them. The first time I opened Photoshop, I saw there was a Paint Brush tool. As an artist, I figured that I didn’t need any help working a paintbrush so I clicked onto it and nothing happened. Very disappointing. I have already shown the tools from the Move Tool to the Crop Tool to the Blur Tool. In this introduction, I will try to cover the rest of the tools listed on the toolbar starting with Dodge and Burn and how to make each one work.

The first thing is to open a New Document so that you can try some of these tools yourself. None of them will work when no document is open.

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The original photo I took of my daughter and my niece.After photoshopping Dodge and Burn and photo filters, the photo was softened and sparked up.
The original photo I took of my daughter and my niece.
The original photo I took of my daughter and my niece. | Source
After photoshopping Dodge and Burn and photo filters, the photo was softened and sparked up.
After photoshopping Dodge and Burn and photo filters, the photo was softened and sparked up. | Source

Dodge Tool and Burn Tool

The next tools in the Tool Bar are the Dodge Tool (O) and Burn Tool (O). Interesting names for interesting manipulation of photos. Dodge Tool adds light or highlight to a photo and Burn adds shadow or darkness. These two together make a really great team. I have taken some photos of my really elderly friends and did the Dodge and Burn on them making them older and more wrinkled. The opposite works too. You can take a portrait and using highlights and shadows make the photo really pop where the original was sort of drab. Usually, it is best to do the Dodge and Burn on a separate layer above the photo so that you aren’t really damaging or changing the photo. If you don’t like what you have done or want to step back you can.

Under Dodge and Burn, is the Sponge Tool, yet another tool I haven’t used yet. There do seem to be quite of few of those.

Pen Tool Tutorial

Pen Tool

The next tool is the Pen Tool (P). If you haven’t used it before you may find it frustrating. There are certain nuances that you have to learn before this tool will work well for you. When you have finished surrounding an area with the pen tool, you can click Selection and the marching ants will surround what you outlined. This is much more controlled than trying to use the Lasso Tool so if you have a complicated design you want to cut out, the Pen Tool is the right tool to use. The deal with it is that it makes straight lines unless you hold down the cursor and drag a little. Suddenly there are two handles and the straight line is curved. The handles can be pulled, pushed and shaped to make the curve fit the design perfectly. I find it is best to surround the whole design and then go back and manipulate the handles on the points I have made.

Under the Pen Tool are the other Tools you need to work with the Pen Tool except for the Freeform Pen Tool. Under that is the Add Anchor Points Tool, which you need to click to add anchor points to your design. Then there is the Delete Anchor Points Tool. It is the only way to delete an anchor you may have put in the wrong place while drawing with the pen tool. Then is the Convert Point Tool, which looks like a triangle with a missing side. This is the tool to take an Anchor point and convert it so it has handles and can be made to curve. All these tools work best with photos or drawing you want to surround to cut out the background or use on another background.

The little photo composite was made from a photo I took of sisters at a church event.
The little photo composite was made from a photo I took of sisters at a church event. | Source

Type Tool

Next is the Horizontal Type Tool (T), the one you will most likely use most often. When the Type Tool is activated, the top toolbar changes to include all the things you need with the type tool. Beside the icon of the T from left to right, is the bar and arrow allowing you to change the font. Next to that is the different styles that go with that font, usually Regular, Italic, Bold, or Condensed. Next is the Size which allows you to change the size of the font. The arrow dropdown shows from 6 pixels to 72, but you can also highlight the numbers in the box and type in anything from 1 to 300 and up. Next to that is the Anti-Aliasing bar allowing you to set from Sharp to Strong to Smooth with your font style. Then you can choose Align Left, Center Text, and Align Right. Then is the color box. If you click on this, the Color Picker window will come up allowing you to choose any color in the rainbow. Also, there is an icon with a T above an arc, which is the Text Warp tool. It will allow you to choose anything from an arc, to a bulge, to a fisheye, to a wave. Most people don’t use this, but I find it fun. The last icon is Toggle the Character and Paragraph Panels. I have no idea what that is for. Never used it.

Under the Horizontal Type Tool is the Vertical Type Tool the Horizontal Type Mask Tool and the Vertical Type Mask Tool. You will find that the Vertical Type Tool makes anything you are typing so hard to read that most Graphic Artists and Instructors say not to use it unless you really have to for design purposes. As for the Mask Tools, there are so many easier ways to make text masks that I never used these.

Using the Text Tool and the Brush Tool I created this poster page.
Using the Text Tool and the Brush Tool I created this poster page. | Source

Path Select Tool

Next are the Path Selection Tool (A) and the Direct Selection Tool (A), signified by a black and white arrow respectively. I often use the Direct Selection Tool when fixing handles and anchor points after using the pen tool. The same with the Path Selection Tool. To grab a path and move it, this is the tool for the job.

Mad Mushroom Fairy


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Finished with Part 4

This is the fourth part of the tools from the toolbar. I will be discussing the other tools later. I hope this introduction helps you get acquainted with your program. Like I said before the more you play with it and work on small projects, the more you will be able to remember shortcuts and tool functions. Have fun.


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