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Photoshop Basics


Adobe Photoshop 9.0 is the industry-standard for digital image creation and manipulation. Besides being incredibly powerful, it features an intuitive interface that is easy to learn. In this tutorial, you will learn the basic layout and functions of Photoshop 9.0.


The toolbox will always be in the Photoshop window. It is movable, making it easy to get it out of your way when working on images. Just click the blue part on the top and drag it wherever you want it. Since the toolbox contains all the main functions of Photoshop, it is important to get acquainted with it.

There are several buttons in the toolbox that feature more than one variety of tool. These are noted by the corner arrow. If you click-and-hold on these buttons, submenus appear from which you can select the tool you want.

Here are the features of the toolbox:

MARQUEE. Allows you to make selections of various shapes, including rectangular and elliptical.

MOVE. Moves selections, layers and guides.

LASSO. Various tools to make freehand selections.

MAGIC WAND. Makes selections using similar color patterns. For example, can select the sky on a photograph with a clear blue sky.

CROP. Trims images using a "marquee" tool.

SLICE. Creates slices, and selects them.

HEALING BRUSH & PATCH. The healing brush repairs blemishes on photographs by using a pattern or sample of an image. The patch tool repairs images like the healing brush, only using a selection to repair an area of the image.

PENCIL & BRUSH. Simulates harder pencil-type strokes or softer brush-like strokes.

CLONE & PATTERN STAMP. Clone stamps paint with part of an image, while pattern stamps create patterns with part of an image.

HISTORY BRUSHES. The history brush paints a copy of the selected state or snapshot into the current image window, while the art history brush paints with stylized strokes that simulate the look of different paint styles, using a selected state or snapshot.

ERASERS. Three different erasers remove different parts of the image.

GRADIENT & PAINT BUCKET. The gradient tool creates a variety of different color blends. The paint bucket fills similarly colored areas of the image with the foreground color.

BLUR/SHARPEN/SMUDGE. These tools blur or sharpen parts of the image with brushes of selectable size, and can also simulate smudging of an image.

DODGE/BURN/SPONGE. Lightens, darkens, or modifies the saturation of parts of the image using brushes of selectable size.

SELECTION. Makes selections of parts of images using points or lines.

TEXT. Creates text on an image, vertically and horizontally.

PEN & POINTS. The pen allows you to draw smooth-edged paths, while point tools allow you to make paths in various styles and shapes.

LINE & SHAPES. Allows creation of straight lines and various polygonal shapes, including many preset shapes like arrows and banners.

NOTES & AUDIO ANNOTATION. Creates text and audio notes that can be attached to images.

COLOR & MEASUREMENT. The "eyedropper" tool allows you to select the foreground color from any specific point on an image. The measurement tool allows you to measure between points and angles in an image.

HAND. Moves an image within its window.

ZOOM. Magnifying glass tool allows you to zoom in or out of an image for more precise viewing.

FOREGROUND COLOR. The color that will be used in any immediate painting, text, fill or other operations.

BACKGROUND COLOR. A secondary color, most often used in doing gradients between two colors. Foreground and background colors can be reversed by clicking the two-sided arrow between them.

SET DEFAULT COLORS. Clicking this will usually set the foreground to black and the background to white.

STANDARD MODE. This is the default mode you will usually use for editing.

QUICK MASK MODE. "Masks" let you select and protect certain areas of an image from changes like filters and coloring. Quick Mask mode lets you create and view a temporary mask for an image. Temporary masks are useful when you don't want to save the mask for later use.

SCREEN MODES. Allows you to toggle between screen modes. Standard mode includes all parts of the Photoshop window, while "Full Screen" modes remove parts of the screen to stretch your "workable" space out as far as possible.

JUMP TO IMAGE READY. Allows you to jump between Photoshop and Adobe Image Ready with the same file without closing either application.


There are nine options in Photoshop's menu. Here you will find access to the rest of Photoshop's features.

FILE. This menu contains all the usual file opening and saving functions, as well as those for scanning and automated features like web photo album creation.

EDIT. The edit menu contains undo and clipboard commands, as well as fill, transform and settings.

IMAGE. This menu contains adjustments like color and brightness/contrast, image size, rotation and crop.

LAYER. The layer menu houses all the various options and commands for layers. This menu will be especially helpful if you are creating a document with many elements like text and shapes.

SELECT. This menu allows you to customize selection of an image, as well as other options like creating a border.

FILTER. This is the area where you can choose from almost 100 different filters and effects you can apply to your images.

VIEW. Select how you view your image, as well as applying rulers or guides to help you.

WINDOW. Here you can select which windows appear on your screen (ie. brushes, color, layers, etc.) by checking or unchecking boxes.

HELP. In the menu, you can not only access Photoshop's online help, but also various "wizards" for making transparent images and resizing images.