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Intro to Photoshop: the Tool Bar Part 2

Updated on February 17, 2016
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 for Beginners

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.

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.

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. In this introduction, I will try to cover many of the other tools listed on the tool bar 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.



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 stepback more than 20 times.


Eyedropper Tool:

The next tool is the EyeDropper Tool (I). This tool will allow you to choose a color from a photo or document simply by clicking onto a spot with a color you want to copy. This helps if you are going to paint over a spot or correct a blemish using exactly the same color. When the Paint Brush tool is open, you can retrieve the EyeDropper Tool simply by pressing Alt on a PC or Option on a Mac. The EyeDropper magically appears until you release Alt/Option and then the Paintbrush tool reappears. I use this a lot when I am creating a painting and need to blend two edges.

Under the EyeDropper Tool is the 3D Material EyeDropper Tool, the Color Sampler Tool, the Ruler Tool, the Note Tool, and the 123 Count Tool. To be honest, I have never used these and so I’m not sure of what they do. I will have to examine them later.

5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Adobe Photoshop CC

Healing Brush


Healing Brush Tool:

Next is an icon that looks like a little Band-Aid. It is the Spot Healing Brush Tool (J) and the Healing Brush Tool. I have used this a lot with my older photographs that have little scratches and dust. These old photos can be healed! The Healing Brush Tool like the Brush tool, can be adjusted in size and softness to work a number of areas, especially in photographs. Under that is the Patch Tool, Content-Aware Move Tool and the Red Eye Tool. As you can probably tell from the names of the tools, these are mostly for photographs. The Content-Aware tools are new to CS6 and CC. I don’t think you will find them in older versions. They are cool tools but not something I used every day.

Basics part 2

Illustration painted with the Brush Tool


Brush Tool:

Next is my favorite, the Brush Tool (B) designated by a little paint brush. This tool has many things that go along with it to make it work. To use the brush tool you must choose a color from the color picker, adjust the size and hardness, Opacity and Flow as well as the Pressure Control button. I will go into all these later. Under the Brush Tool is the Pencil Tool. This is one I hardly ever use because it doesn’t really behave like a pencil. The default setting is 1 pixel and hardness at 100%. You can get the same thing by choosing a brush, reducing the size to 1 pixel and increase the Hardness to 100%. Under that is the Color Replacement Tool and the Mixer Brush Tool, both of which I have never needed or used.

Clone Tool


Clone Tool:

Next up is the Clone Tool (S). This one really confused me and I never used it until I saw a YouTube tutorial on how to clone out things you don’t want in your photo, like a pretty girl standing next to a trashcan. If you could get rid of the trashcan, wouldn’t you? Well you can clone it out using samples of places around the trashcan to fill in. In my sample, I used the Paint Brush Tool to just draw a simple scribble with red. Using the Clone Tool, I held down Alt (on a PC) or Option (on a Mac) and put the little circle over where I want to sample. When I let up the Clone Tool is active and as you move it around it will show you a soft example of the sampled photo. When you click it will paint that wherever you want. As you see in my example, I clicked several times cloning the red scribble onto another part of the paper. This is great for fixing tears or blemishes in photographs.

Under the Clone Tool is a Pattern Stamp Tool which works much the same way, stamping any pattern you choose using the Alt/Option key.

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Clone Tool


History Brush Tool:

The next tools are the History Brush Tool (Y) and the Art History Brush Tool, two tools, which I have not had opportunity to play with or find use for yet. Someday I need to sit down and find out what these two brushes will do.

Masked photo, not Erased


Eraser Tool:

Now you really don’t need a explanation for the Eraser Tool (E). It does just what it says it does. It erases. The thing is that it erases permanently and I have found that often I want to back up because I erased more than I wanted to. That’s where the problems lie. It is sometimes much better to use a Layer Mask instead of the Eraser Tool because a mask allows you to make changes. Nothing is permanent with a mask. When I first started playing with Photoshop I went to the Eraser Tool exclusively and now I have learned to use it sparingly.

Under the Eraser Tool is the Background Eraser Tool and the Magic Eraser Tool. Because I use the Eraser so sparingly now I also keep my distance from the other two also. It is much better to use a mask.

Background Gradient


Gradient Tool:

The Gradient Tool (G) and the Paint Bucket Tool (G) I find are very handing and they are hiding together. The Gradient Tool has so many uses it is hard to know where to start. Often I will use a Linear Gradient for a background for a text effect, but also gradients work well in Layer Masks to make a fade in or fade out effect. Those are only a few but I will explain more later.

The Paint Bucket Tool does much as it says. If find it the easiest way to fill a layer with color. There are a number of other ways to fill with color but it makes so much sense to me to grab the Paint Bucket and “dump” a color onto the art board. Also the Paint Bucket fills any area that is surrounded by the marching ants, so if you make a selection with the Marquee Tool, the Quick Selection, Lasso Tool, or Magic Wand and then grab the Paint Bucket, you can dump color into the selected areas.

Under the Gradient and the Paint Bucket is the 3D Material Drop Tool, which is just one more tool I haven’t had opportunity to play with yet.


Blur Tool:

The next tool is the Blur Tool (no shortcut). It is an interesting tool much like a brush but instead of painting with a color you choose ahead of time, it merely pulls and blurs pixels that are already there. This means you can’t use it on a blank paper. It works well on photographs. I often go out to the cemetery on special holidays like Memorial Day and take photos of the awesome decorated monuments. The problem is that I don’t want to publish photos that have people’s names on them. This is where the blur tool comes in. I can literally blur names right out of monuments and still use the photo with all the flags with no chance of embarrassing or angering family members of the residents.

Under the Blur Tool are the Sharpen Tool and the Smudge Tool. As the names suggest they are for spot smudging or spot sharpening areas in a photograph or image. They aren’t meant to be used on a whole photo; we have filters for that.


Finished Part 2

This was only about half of the tools listed. I will cover the rest 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.

Photoshop Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA


      I would say that CS3 and up are all good. The deal is that each year they add new things... but the new things are really small in comparison to the original package. CS6 and CC (the Creative Cloud) have the new Camera Raw feature that saves a bundle of time, but all the older version will do most of what Camera Raw filter does, it only takes longer. I'm doing a hub on using Camera Raw next, and what filters to use if you don't have Camera Raw. Also CS5 and better have the Content Aware Fill feature. I played with it. It is fun at first but I just can't use it as often as I thought I'd be able to. What it does is fill an area with stuff around it. I had a photo of girls at lunch. There were beer bottles on the table, and I was able to use Content Aware to just get rid of them. I used it on a pretty sea shell that had a price tag, and got rid of the price tag with Content Aware. However I've tried to use it on other things like getting rid of something in a kid's hand that was distracting, and it didn't work. Its just a computer. It filled her hand with fingers. Many times Content Aware is just not worth buying the next step up of Photoshop. So it's little things like that... each step up gives you newer better filters.. but not enough to justify the price tag most of the time. Hope this helps.



    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      There are various Photoshop packages on the market (different versions offering different features at different prices). How does one determine which is the right one?

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA

      Larry Rankin,

      Again, thank you. I hope it wasn't too cumbersome to go through all these parts.. but I was afraid it would be information overload all in one sitting.



    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Another helpful article.


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