Photoshop Toolbar and Tools: How to Use in Photoshop C6 – CC 2019

If you are new to Adobe Photoshop (and even if you are not) the plethora of editing tools available can be quite daunting. This article explores each tool and how to use them.

But first, let’s look at Photoshop itself. It is a very in-depth application. Photoshop was designed for photo editing, image creation, and graphic design. The software provides many image editing features for raster (pixel-based) images as well as vector graphics. It appeals to photographers, graphic designers, video game artists, advertising, and meme designers.

With depth comes complexity. So that a lite version called Photoshop Elements was created for those users who did not need all of that image power. And in 2013, Adobe came out with Lightroom which was designed specifically for photographers.

A Beginners Guide: Photoshop Toolbar and Tools

Photoshop Toolbar and Tools

Photoshop has many useful keyboard shortcuts. In this case, instead of right-clicking on the tool, you can press “W” and then “Shift-W” to toggle between the two tools.

Another useful feature in Photoshop CC is that when you select a tool, a little video pops up showing how the tool works. It’s a nice way to reinforce the fact that you have the correct tool.

How To Customize Photoshop Toolbar

From the Edit menu, you can select the Tools… option. The Customize Toolbar window displays to allow you to customize the toolbar depending on your workflow.

Photoshop Customize Toolbar

You can:

  • Group tools together
  • Hide little-used tools
  • Display a tool on the Photoshop Toolbar instead of it being nested
  • Change the keyboard shortcut for a tool
  • Save the customized Photoshop Toolbar to a preset to use at another time

The Photoshop Toolbar can be displayed as a single row or a double row by selecting the two arrows at the top of it.

Photoshop Toolbar

You can also grab the top bar and drag the Photoshop Toolbar wherever you wish on the Photoshop canvas. We will look at the Photoshop tools in no specific order.

Drag the Photoshop Toolbar

How to Get Toolbar Back in Photoshop

But what happens if I somehow lose the Toolbar? To show the Photoshop Toolbar, simply click the Window menu and then Tools.

How to Get Toolbar Back in Photoshop

Most commonly used Photoshop tools at a Glance

  1. Move Tool – To move a part of any image.
  2. Marquee Tools – To give any particular shape of an image.
  3. Lasso Tools – To make any selection on an image.
  4. Quick Selection Tool/Magic Wand Tool – To make a quick selection.
  5. Crop Tool – To crop any part of an image.
  6. Eyedropper Tool – To sample a color from any image.
  7. Spot Healing Brush/Healing Brush/Patch Tool/Content-Aware Move Tool/Red Eye Tool – To fill or remove in any area in an image.
  8. Brush Tool – To retouch the image.
  9. Clone Stamp Tool/Pattern Stamp Tool – To clone of copy image information.
  10. History Brush Tool – To undo any tool used earlier.
  11. Eraser Tool/Background Eraser Tool/Magic Eraser Tool – To remove any section of an image.
  12. Blur Tool/Smudge Tool/Sharpen Tool – To blend color in various ranges.
  13. Dodge Tool – To highlight in different tone on any image.
  14. Text Tool – To write text anyway.
  15. Pen Tool – To draw paths around objects.
  16. Shape Tools – To give various shapes.
  17. Hand Tool – To move any area of an image.
  18. Zoom Tool – To zoom in and zoom out.

We will be using the following image whenever possible to demonstrate each tool.

Demonstrate Photoshop Tool

1. Move Tool

Move Tool

The Move Tool allows you to move part of a layered image to a new location. The very first thing that you need to know about the Move Tool that it only works when there is something to move inside the image. If your image has one layer and it is locked, the Move Tool cannot do anything to move the image. You need at least two layers to use the Move Tool. You can also use Move Tool with a single layer provided the single layer is unlocked.

In the image below, the window to the left of the model is in its own layer.

Demonstration of the Move tool

Select the Move Tool and drag the window to another position.

Demonstration of the Move tool

2. Marquee Tools

Photoshop Marquee Tools

There are several marquee tools that allow you to select areas in an image.

NOTE: With any of the selection tools, you can hold shift to add to your selection, and hold option/alt to subtract from the selection.

I. The Rectangular Marquee Tool

The Rectangular Tool

It makes a rectangular selection on your Photoshop image.

II. The Elliptical Marquee Tool

It allows you to make a round selection.

III. The Single Row Marquee Tool

It makes a 1px horizontal selection that spans the total width of your image. This can be used to create a 1px repeating pattern for your website content.

IV. The Single Column Marquee Tool

It makes a 1px vertical selection that spans the total height of your image. This can be used to create a 1px repeating pattern for your website content.

3. Lasso Tools

Lasso Tools

There are several lasso tools that also allow you to make selections.

I. Lasso Tool

The Lasso Tool lets you make loose selections around anything on a layer just like a lasso. It has the same options as the marquee tools.

II. Polygonal Lasso Tool

The Polygonal Lasso Tool allows you to make selections, but only in a linear way. That is, you can only draw straight lines for your selections.

III. Magnetic Lasso Tool

The Magnetic Lasso Tool

The Magnetic Lasso Tool allows you to drag your mouse over the edges of an image, it determines where the edges are, and anchor points are placed at regular intervals. This gives you a very close and controlled selection.

4. Quick Selection Tool/Magic Wand Tool

Quick Selection Tool and Magic Wand Tool

These two tools allow you to make quick selections in slightly different ways.

I. Quick Selection Tool

Demonstration of Quick Selection Tool

The Quick Selection Tool makes a selection based on the edges of objects. As it is with the name, it makes selections quickly, and you can just drag over the areas that you want to select.

II. Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand Tool makes a selection based on where you click your mouse. As with other selection tools, you can hold Shift to add to the selection and hold Option/Alt to take away from your selection.

5. Crop Tool

Crop Tool

As we mentioned before, you can also see a short video of each tool to make sure you have the correct one for your workflow as seen above.

I. Crop Tool

Demonstration of Crop Tool

The Crop Tool allows you to crop an image to the sizes that you want. You can input a set ratio, such as 4 x 6 in the ratio, or you can also set a fixed size and resolution for your cropped image.

II. Perspective Crop Tool

III. Slice Tool

IV. Slice Select Tool

How to Use Crop Tool in Photoshop?

6. Eyedropper Tool

Eyedropper Tool

I. Eyedropper Tool

Demonstration of Eyedropper Tool

The Eyedropper Tool allows you to sample a color from any image so that you can use it in your work. You can control the color area that it samples; it can sample a pixel, or it can sample a range of pixels. Also, you can sample the current layer or all layers.

II. 3D Material Eyedropper Tool

III. Color Sampler Tool

The Color Sampler Tool allows you to sample up to four areas of color within your image so that you can have information about those colors. Like the Eyedropper Tool, you can determine the range of pixels that it samples.

IV. Ruler Tool

V. Note Tool

VI. Count Tool

7. Spot Healing Brush/Healing Brush/Patch Tool/Content-Aware Move Tool/Red Eye Tool

Healing Tools

I. Spot Healing Brush Tool

Before and after using the Spot Healing Tool

The Spot Healing Brush is a great tool for removing blemishes from images. It works with a simple click of the mouse by sampling the surrounding areas and blending the blemish away.

II. Healing Brush Tool

The Healing Brush Tool allows you to brush out blemishes and areas that aren’t desired in your images. Unlike the Spot Healing Brush, the Healing brush requires you to select a reference point.

How to Use the Healing
Brush Tool in Photoshop

III. Patch Tool

The Patch Tool is a great tool where you can make a selection that is similar to the Lasso Tool. Once the selection is made, you can click and drag it to the area to fill it with and when you release it, it patches that area with the selected content.

IV. Content-Aware Move Tool

The Content-Aware Move Tool intelligently tries to fill in any moved content with what it perceives to be there. For example, a rowboat on a beach can be moved, and Photoshop will try to fill in the sand that would be behind the boat.

V. Red Eye Tool

The Red Eye Tool is a quick way to click on portions of an image that have red-eye and remove them instantly.

8. Brush Tool

Brush Tool

I. Brush Tool

The Brush Tool using the color selected by the Eyedropper Tool

The Brush Tool is one of the most important tools that are in your Photoshop toolbox. You will probably use the Brush Tool more than any other tool in Photoshop, especially if you are retouching images. You can change the size of the brush, how hard it is, its shape, texture, opacity, flow, and more.

II. Pencil Tool

The Pencil Tool allows you to draw on an image like you were using a real pencil, hence the name.

9. Clone Stamp Tool/Pattern Stamp Tool

Stamp Tool

I. Clone Stamp Tool

Demonstration of Clone stamp tool

The Clone Stamp Tool is used to clone or copy image information from one area to another. You can hold the Option/Alt key and click an area of an image. Then, click the image to brush with the color and image information that you sampled.

II. Pattern Stamp Tool

The Pattern Stamp Tool gives you the ability to use a brush-type tool to paint a pattern or texture on your image.

III. Color Replacement Tool

IV. Mixer Brush Tool

10. History Brush Tool

History Brush Tool

I. History Brush Tool

Demonstration of History Brush Tool

With this tool, you can paint with an image snapshot in a different layer. This lets you bring in details from a previous point in your work. It’s like an Undo feature.

I. Art History Brush Tool

11. Eraser Tools

Eraser Tool

I. Eraser Tool

Demonstration of The Eraser Tool

The Eraser Tool removes pixel information from your image just like a real eraser. You use brushes, which you can specify just like any other brush-related tool in Photoshop such as hardness, shape, texture, opacity, and flow.

II. Background Eraser Tool

The Background Eraser Tool is an awesome tool for removing the background from an image. Click and drag the eraser along the edges of an image and its background and it will remove the background. This isn’t perfect but it goes a long way toward the goal.

III. Magic Eraser Tool

The Magic Eraser Tool removes a section of the background of an image and is based on the area that you click on. It does a good job, but sometimes it removes areas that aren’t necessary, requiring some trial and error.

12. Blur Tool/ Smudge Tool/ Sharpen Tool

Blur Tool, Smudge Tool and Sharpen Tool

I. Blur Tool

The Blur Tool lets you blur parts of an image, which can help with harsh contrasts between images. Like the Sharpen Tool, it behaves just like a brush and gives you accurate results.

II. Sharpen Tool

The Sharpen Tool gives you the ability to sharpen areas of an image by painting on them. This gives you a lot of control and accuracy when sharpening images.

III. Smudge Tool

Demonstration of The Smudge Tool

The Smudge Tool works like a brush too, but it “smudges” pixels and allows you to push them around. It allows you to blend and transition colors easily.

13. Dodge Tool/Burn Tool/Sponge Tool

Dodge Tool

I. Dodge Tool

The Dodge Tool lets you paint in highlights in the different tone ranges of your images.


Demonstration of Dodge tool

The Dodge Tool. Note how the hair and dress are lighter and brighter colors.

II. Burn Tool

The Burn Tool lets you paint to dehighlights in the different tone ranges of your images.

III. Sponge Tool

The Sponge Tool lets you paint in a grey color.

14. Text Tool

Text tool

The Text Tool is the main tool for creating your type in Photoshop.

I. Horizontal Type Tool

The Horizontal Type Tool lets you type horizontally for normal text.

II. Vertical Type Tool

Demonstration of Text tool

The Vertical Type Tool lets you type vertically instead of the traditional horizontal method.

15. Pen Tool

 Pen Tool

I. Pen Tool

With the Pen Tool, you can draw paths for use in your work. Print designers use the Pen Tool in Photoshop to draw paths around objects for their projects. Many print design software such as Quark and InDesign allow you to use clipping paths embedded from Photoshop so that there are no backgrounds around your images.

Demonstration of the pen tool

II. Freeform Pen Tool

III. Curvature Pen Tool

IV. Add Anchor Point Tool

V. Delete Anchor Point Tool

VI. Convert Point Tool

How to Use Pen Tool in Photoshop to Make Clipping Paths?


16. Shape Tools

Shape Tools

Different shape tools allow you to draw different shapes based on paths or vector shape layers, which gives you well-defined lines.

I. Rectangle Tool

The rectangle shape tool allows you to create a rectangle shape.

II. Rounded Rectangle Tool

The rounded rectangle shape tool allows you to create a rounded rectangle shape.

III. Ellipse Tool

Demonstration of ellipse shape tool

The ellipse shape tool allows you to create a perfect rounded shape.

IV. Polygon Tool

The polygon shape tool allows you to create a polygon shape.

V. Line Tool

The line tool allows you to create a straight-line shape.

VI. Custom Shape Tool

The custom shape tool allows you to draw custom shapes.

17. Hand Tool

Hand Tool

I. Hand Tool

Demonstration of hand tool

The Hand Tool lets you move to any area of an image without accidentally dragging around a layer of an object on a layer. You can quickly switch to the Hand Tool any time just by holding the space bar.

II. Rotate View Tool

18. Zoom Tool

Zoom Tool

I. Zoom Tool

Demonstration of Zoom Tool

The Zoom Tool is used to zoom in and out of your image. It is most commonly used when you want to zoom in on a specific part of an image. You simply click and drag a selection of an image and Photoshop will zoom in on that area.

So there you have a discussion of the more commonly used tools. Take some time with your favorite images to explore these tools in Adobe Photoshop. Happy Practicing 🙂

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