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Intro to Photoshop: the Tool Bar Part 3

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.


Basic Photoshop Part 3

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 tool bar.

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 tool bar 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.


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.

Original and Dodge & Burn


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 stepback 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 curser 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.

Basics Part 3


Illustration made with Photoshop Brush Tools


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 tool bar 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 drop down 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 a 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 fish eye, 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.


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.

Shape Tools


Rectangle Tool and other Shapes:

The Rectangle Tool (U) does exactly that. I will draw a rectangle and fill it with whatever color you have set and even an outline if you have that set. Those settings are in the top tool bar when you have selected the Rectangle Tool. From left to right, after the shape icon, is a drop down bar allowing you to make a shape, a path, or pixels. Next is the Fill color box and the Stroke color box. You can change the color at any time. Next to Stroke is the number of points the stroke can have from 0 to 288 and a slider bar to make the changes or just type in the number you want. The next choice will allow you to have a solid stroke or dotted or dashed lines. Then there is a little square with the little white arrow under it. This means there is something under it. It is Path Operations. When you click and hold down a menu opens up allowing the shape to be drawn on a new layer, shapes combined on the same layer, one shape to be cut out of another, shapes merged, or excluded the overlapping parts. This comes in very handy for odd shapes. Also I often find I want all my shapes to be on the same layer when I am making outlines for graphic shapes. I could end up with a hundred layers if they were all on their own layer. Combining them comes in very handy. Next is an alignment icon and a stacking icon. Great for if you want all the shapes to align to one side or another, or if you want to bring one up to the top or shove it back to the back.


Adobe Photoshoop

Did you know Photoshop could do all these things?

See results


If you hold down Shift while dragging out your shape it will be a perfect square. The same with the Ellipse Tool and the Rounded Rectangle Tool and the Polygon Tool. Any time you hold down the Shift key, the shape will be a perfect circle or square or pentagon, etc.

Under the Rectangle Tool is the Rounded Rectangle Tool, which has rounded corners. This is helpful as you can literally define how rounded you want the corners to be (from an icon on the top tool bar). Next is the Ellipse Tool, Polygon Tool, which lets you decide the number of sides your shape has from 3 to 23.. or more, the Line Tool, and the Custom Shape Tool. The Custom Shape Tool opens a top tool bar icon called Shape, and delivers a drop down menu of dozens of shapes to choose from. Everything from keys to rabbits, cars to diplomas, arrows to flowers. Very handy tools.



Hand Tool:

The next tool isn’t as handy for me as the Move Tool, but it is the Hand Tool (H). Under it is the Rotate View Tool (R). To be able to Rotate the art board as you are drawing or paint is great for an artist but most laymen won’t be interested in using these tools.

Zoom Tool:

Last but not least among the tools is the Zoom Tool (Z), which has as it’s icon a little magnifying glass. I also found I can zoom in by pressing Control/Command and the plus sign or minus sign to zoom out. Whatever works.

Color Picker


Foreground and Background Color:

The two little squares of color signify the foreground and background color. When painting or dumping paint, you want to be sure that the foreground color is chosen first. When you click onto the square of color, the Color Picker Window will open and allow you to choose any color you wish. You have to click ok to close this window before you can do anything else. If you press D the colors will revert to the default Black and White. If you press X the foreground and background colors change place. This is a shortcut that comes is very handy and saves lots of time.

Quick Mask


Quick Mask activated


Quick Mask:

Under the Foreground and Background Color squares is a little camera icon. This is the Quick Mask Edit tool. It is scary if you don’t know what’s happening. If you should click it accidentally, everything turns red. Not to worry, this is only a mask and clicking the camera icon again will make it all go away. The mask works with the paintbrushes. What is red will be masked out, what is white or clear will be left. When the Quick Mask is activated, the Foreground and Background colors automatically default to Black and White. Painting with Black will cover with red, painting with White will reveal part you want to keep.

Standard Screen Mode

Full Screen with Tool Bar.
Full Screen with Tool Bar. | Source
Full Screen.
Full Screen. | Source

Change Screen Mode:

This last icon, Change Screen Mode (F) is for changing the way you look at your art and not really affecting the artwork at all. The first one in the list is Standard Screen Mode, then Full Screen with Tool Bar, then Full Screen. I accidentally did this once pressing F, I couldn’t figure out how to go back to my regular screen mode so I turned Photoshop off and it went back to the default when I turned it back on. If I had only pressed F twice more it would have returned to Standard Screen Mode for me. This is great if you remember how to get back or if you remember your shortcuts, because once you go to Full Screen Mode the Tool Bars and Layers Panels disappear and you are stuck trying to remember shortcuts.



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 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA


      You know my sister got Photoshop Elements because it is so much cheaper than the full version of Photoshop... and it just doesn't have all the bells and whistles that Photoshop CS6 or even the older versions have. If you are saving up, don't accept second best. Get the whole thing if you can. Maybe an older version, say CS4 or so, can be purchased on Ebay. It's worth looking into. Good luck.



    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      I agree with Larry. I really like seeing all that can be done. Even though I don't have Photoshop yet, it's been on my wish list for awhile.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      Larry Rankin,

      Thanks. I have one I'm working on for how to fix photos in Photoshop. Hopefully that will be helpful too.



    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      This is a really great series!


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