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Making the most of the tools in Elements

From: Photoshop Elements 11 Essentials: 02 Editing and Retouching Photos

Video: Making the most of the tools in Elements

The vertical toolbar over on the left side of the Expert edit workspace contains lots of tools that you can use as you're editing and retouching your photos. The tools are divided into sections by function in the toolbar. Depending on your screen resolution, you may labels underneath each one of these sections. The top section is the view category of tools that contains the Zoom tool and Hand tool for navigating an image in the document window. The next category is the selection category, which contains Selection tools, which we'll be looking at in this course, as well as the important Move tool.

Making the most of the tools in Elements

The vertical toolbar over on the left side of the Expert edit workspace contains lots of tools that you can use as you're editing and retouching your photos. The tools are divided into sections by function in the toolbar. Depending on your screen resolution, you may labels underneath each one of these sections. The top section is the view category of tools that contains the Zoom tool and Hand tool for navigating an image in the document window. The next category is the selection category, which contains Selection tools, which we'll be looking at in this course, as well as the important Move tool.

The next section are the so-called Enhanced tools, which include retouching tools like the Healing Brush tools and the Redeye Removal tool, as well as photo editing tools like the Sponge tool for varying saturation. The next section are the Drawing tools, which include everything from Brush Tools to Eraser Tools to Shape Tools to Type tools. And next come the Modified tools including the important Crop tool and a Straighten tool. At the bottom of the toolbar are the Foreground and Background color chips. You will use the Foreground color chip must often.

It controls the color of the tools and features that apply color in Elements. To change the foreground color, click inside the Foreground color chip, and that opens the Color Picker. You can choose a range of colors from this Hue slider, and then go into the big color field to the left and click on the shade of that color that you want to use. Then click Ok. And that sets the foreground color. The Background color chip comes into play less often. I use it mostly when I'm creating a gradient with this Gradient tool from the foreground to the background color.

You can switch the foreground and background colors by clicking the double- pointed arrow, or by pressing X on your keyboard. And if you want to get the foreground and background colors back to their defaults of black and white respectively, click the tiny color chips just to the left of the larger color chips, or press D on your keyboard. We saw in an earlier movie that when you select a tool in the toolbar, that displays the options for that tool down here in the bin at the bottom of the Expert edit workspace. For example, with the Brush tool selected, I have options here for varying the size of the Brush Tip, the opacity of the Brush Tip, as well as in menu of Blend modes for blending the color with which I'm painting with the other colors in the image.

So, for example, if I choose Color from this menu and then I click the Foreground color chip, and I choose a color and click OK. Now if I come in and paint with the Brush tool, I can see the tonality of the underlying photo. This is a quick and easy way to change color in a photograph. That's just one example of the many tool options that you find down here in the bin. The other thing you will find in this bin for some tools are alternative tools that are similar. So for example, if I click on the Healing Brush tool here in the Tool Options bin, I can choose to use either the Healing Brush or the related Spot Healing Brush.

Now as you work with tools, you'll often change their options. Then there will be times when you want to get back to the default options. The easiest way to do that with any of the tool selected is to go to this List menu icon at the far right of the tool options bin, and from there you can choose to reset the active tool or all the tools. Before I start a new project I usually come in here and Reset All Tools. I'm going to do that right now, and then I'll click OK, and now this Spot Healing Brush and all the other tools are back to their default options.

Now there really are a lot of tools here and I don't expect you to remember what they all are, but you don't really have to. Because if you're wondering what a particular tool is, you can always just move your mouse over that tool and wait for a second and you get a tooltip that gives you the name of the tool, as well as the shortcut for accessing that tool. When you know those shortcuts, you can use them to quickly get to the tools that you want. For example, if I know that I want the Zoom tool, I can just press the keyboard shortcut Z on my keyboard, and that automatically selects the Zoom tool for me, ready to be used on the image.

So that's a quick look at the toolbar, the tool options, and some tips for working efficiently with tools.

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This video is part of

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  1. 6m 14s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 30s
    3. Overview of the editing workspaces
      3m 34s
  2. 43m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 21s
    2. Making the most of the tools in Elements
      4m 6s
    3. Arranging the panels
      4m 32s
    4. Zooming and panning
      4m 3s
    5. Viewing multiple photos
      3m 51s
    6. Undoing
      5m 15s
    7. Cropping
      3m 46s
    8. Resizing
      7m 18s
    9. Saving images and examining formats
      6m 2s
  3. 19m 23s
    1. Understanding layers
      7m 59s
    2. Managing layers in the Layers panel
      4m 33s
    3. Creating new layers
      6m 51s
  4. 38m 28s
    1. Why use selections?
      4m 20s
    2. Selecting with the marquee tools
      3m 56s
    3. Selecting with the lasso tools
      6m 40s
    4. Selecting by color and tone
      6m 22s
    5. Refining a selection
      4m 51s
    6. Selecting hair
      5m 42s
    7. Hiding content with a layer mask
      6m 37s
  5. 46m 54s
    1. Why use adjustment layers?
      5m 15s
    2. Adjusting color with a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 32s
    3. Correcting lighting with a Levels adjustment layer
      3m 32s
    4. Adjusting part of an image with an adjustment layer
      5m 19s
    5. Exploring auto adjustments
      3m 55s
    6. Improving shadows and highlights
      2m 14s
    7. Removing a color cast
      1m 47s
    8. Fine-tuning with Color Curves
      3m 16s
    9. Converting to black and white
      2m 26s
    10. Correcting camera distortion
      5m 32s
    11. Reducing noise
      2m 56s
    12. Sharpening
      6m 10s
  6. 20m 51s
    1. Creating a panorama
      5m 6s
    2. Merging bracketed exposures
      6m 0s
    3. Removing people from a scene
      5m 25s
    4. Combining group shots
      4m 20s
  7. 29m 24s
    1. Removing blemishes
      3m 42s
    2. Reducing wrinkles and circles
      4m 16s
    3. Enhancing eyes
      5m 19s
    4. Removing red-eye
      3m 15s
    5. Adjusting skin tone
      2m 21s
    6. Removing dust spots
      4m 7s
    7. Removing content
      6m 24s
  8. 52m 36s
    1. What is Camera Raw?
      5m 18s
    2. Using the latest Camera Raw controls
      3m 16s
    3. Camera Raw basics
      6m 22s
    4. Making use of the histogram
      3m 45s
    5. Setting white balance
      3m 44s
    6. Adjusting lighting
      4m 28s
    7. Adjusting color saturation
      2m 9s
    8. Cropping and straightening
      3m 58s
    9. Reducing noise
      3m 33s
    10. Sharpening
      3m 38s
    11. Synchronizing edits to multiple photos
      3m 36s
    12. Outputting from Camera Raw
      6m 14s
    13. Using Camera Raw with JPEGs
      2m 35s
  9. 48s
    1. Next steps
      48s

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