ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Intro to Photoshop: the Tool Bar Basics

Updated on July 30, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been mastering photography and Photoshop for many years and sells some of her work. She hires out her skills to help people.


Photoshop Head-Scratchers

If you are like me, new technology is intimidating. But there are some things that are well worth the effort to decipher. Adobe Photoshop is one of those. The learning curve is rather high but not impossible. Like many things (music, art, dance), the more you practice, the better you get at it.

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. Years ago a person was stuck with a book and hours of head-scratching. Today there are thousands of YouTube video tutorials by lots of pioneers who have already done the head-scratching for you.

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 tool are the same however and are used basically the same. There are a few differences that I will share along the way.

Basics Without The Textbook

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. In this introduction, I will try to cover the many tools listed on the toolbar and how to make each one work.


To Start

To Start anything in Photoshop, even if you are only going to play with the tools, you must open a new document. To do this you go to the upper menu bar, to File and New. When the dialog box opens, you can set the parameters to anything you like. I personally like to have the parameters set to inches, but that’s just me. When you change the Width to inches, the Height automatically changes too.

At the top of this dialog box is a space for the Name of your document. It will name the document Untitled, by default, which is fine with me. I usually leave the default name until I am done and then rename the document when I’m ready to save it. Many people like to name their document right upfront, but this is personal preference and you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

Rate Photoshop

Cast your vote for Adobe Photoshop


Under Preset, I like to click onto the bar and set my document as U.S. Paper. This makes it automatically 8.5 inches by 11 inches and Resolution set to 300 pixels per inch and Background Contents are White. Color Mode is set to RGB, which means Red, Green, Blue. This is the perfect setting for anything digital. However, if you wanted to print your document, you may want to change the RGB to CMYK, which stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, or the colors used for printing. Between RGB and CMYK there is a slight discrepancy in the color tones and variations in lightness and darkness between the two. If you created a document in RGB and later decided to print it, you would have to change it to CMYK. The computer does an automatic “translation” but you should always check to see if the colors have remained the way you wanted them and make changes if needed. I like to leave it at RGB because most of what I’m working on is for digital art or Internet work and doesn’t need to be printed.





As for the Resolution in pixels per inch, I like to work with 300 PPI because it gives a nice large space to work on. However, it MUST be reduced for loading onto Facebook, Twitter or HubPages… or most Internet sites because 300 will take forever to load. Many artists don’t use it higher than 150 PPI, but even so, that should be reduced to 72 PPI for Internet use.



Once your parameters have been decided on, click okay and a new white page will open for you to work on. Because U.S. Paper loads in the Portrait position and not Landscape, I like to turn it the long way. To do this, Go to Image at the top menu bar, then choose Image Rotation, and 90 degrees CW (clockwise). CCW or counterclockwise will work just as well. The tab at the top of my artboard says Untitled-1, as if I’m going to open more than one, and I often do. There is an “x” next to it. If you should click the x it will close the new document but a window will open asking you if you would like to save it first. That’s a nice feature.


Do you think you would use Photoshop if it were a little easier to understand?

See results

Move Tool

You are now ready to examine your tools. On the left should be a column of tools. The very top one is the Move Tool designated by a little arrow and a +. This allows you to move things within your document or dragging and dropping things from other documents into this one. You can click onto the icon to activate it or type the letter V. If you take the curser and let it hover on any of these tools, the name of the tool will pop up along with the shortcut in parentheses. This one says Move Tool (V).


Hiding Tools

Notice that almost all the other tools have a tiny white triangle in the lower corner of each icon. This means… wait for it… there are tools hiding under each of those. One of the ones I use most is the Paint Bucket tool, which will dump a color and fill the entire document in one click. However, the Paint Bucket is a cool tool hiding under the Gradient Tool. Since there are so many of these, I will cover all of them for you.


Select and Deselect

Under the Move Tool is the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M). If you click onto it and hold it down, a list of the other tools hiding under it will appear. They are the Elliptical Marquee Tool (also M), the Single Row Marquee Tool (no shortcut) and the Single Column Marquee Tool (also no shortcut). When you use these tools they will surround a selection with “marching ants” and allow you to make changes to just that portion of your document or photo, or copy and move that portion, and a number of other things. The important thing to remember is that once you have the marching ants activated, Photoshop will not allow you to do anything else until you Deselect the selected parts. For this, you type Control (for a PC) or Command (for a Mac) and the letter D. In future I will shorten this shortcut by just saying Control/Command+D. You can also turn off the marching ants by going to the top menu bar and choosing Select and then Deselect.



Keep in mind that you can always Undo whatever you have done by using the shortcut Control/Command+Z or go to Edit and selecting Undo. If you want to Undo several steps pressing Control/Command+Z more than once won’t work. In that case, you have to go to Edit>Stepback and stepback as many times as you need to.

Unfortunately, the Stepback command will only work about 20 times. The default settings can be changed to allow the Stepback to work more than that but I have never found that I need to step back more than 20 times.

Magic Forest


Finished With Part 1

This is only the first 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.


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)