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Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image editing application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements 8, along with its companion program, Bridge CS4, to organize and edit photos, build projects like web galleries and photo collages, and share photos with family and friends. Jan dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
Elements packs lots of tools into its toolbar. I think the best way to learn about tools is to use them in context, as you would do throughout this course. So I am not going to go through the tools in the toolbar with you here, but I do want to tell you some things that will help you to use tools more efficiently. First, notice that the toolbar is a single column on my screen. That's what you will see if you reset the panels to their defaults by clicking the Reset Panels button up here on the right. But, if you have a smaller screen that can't display this long single column of tools, you may want to make your toolbar into a double column, and you can do that by clicking the double-pointed arrow at the top left of the toolbar, like this.
I am going to put mine back to single column for now by clicking that double-pointed arrow again. Another thing about tools is that not all the tools are visible at any one time in the toolbar, because there are just so many tools. So when you see a tool that has a black triangle on its bottom right, like all of these tools, that means that there are more tools behind that are related to the tool that's in the slot. So here, for example, is an Eraser tool, with a black triangle. If I click and hold on the Eraser tool, I get this flyout menu that gives me options to select other related tools, like the Background Eraser tool or the Magic Eraser tool.
If I hover over the Magic Eraser tool and release my mouse, then the Magic Eraser takes the place of the Eraser tool in the toolbar. Another thing to know about tools is that you don't have to memorize the name or location of any tool. So here, for example, is a tool that looks like a band-aid. Let's say I don't know what that is. All I have to do is move my mouse over the tool and wait and a tooltip comes up. That tells me not only the name of the tool, but also the keyboard shortcut for the tool. The most common way to access a tool when you are first learning Elements is to click on the tool here in the toolbar. But as you get more experienced with Elements, you will find it quicker to access a tool by tapping its keyboard shortcut.
Tool shortcuts, as I said, are listed in the tooltips. So the Move tool, for example, is a tool you will use a lot, and it makes sense to memorize its shortcut. If I hover over the Move tool here, I see the shortcut is V. So I will move off of the Move tool to show you that if I press V on my keyboard, the Move tool is now highlighted and ready to be used on the image. Another thing about the tools is that every tool has options, and those options appear here in the tool Options bar whenever you select a particular tool.
Notice that the options in the Options bar change as I choose different tools here in the toolbar. I am going to select the Crop tool, and notice that it has some options to set the Width and the Height of a Crop. So let's say I type in that I want a Width of 4 inches and a Height of 6 inches. Now, let's say I crop an image and then I go off and I am using some other tool, like the Move tool, and later I come back and I want to use the Crop tool again on a different image. If I select the Crop tool, notice that those numbers that I typed into the Width and Height field in the tool Options bar are still there, and so that could trip me up when I go to use the Crop tool a second time.
I call these sticky settings, and I showed you this because I want to explain what I do whenever I sit down to start a new project in Elements or to launch the program again. I will reset all the tools to their default options and that will get rid of any sticky settings like this. The way to reset the tools to their default options is, with any tool selected in the toolbar, to go up to this tiny arrow at the top left of the tool Options bar, click there, and from the Contextual menu, choose Reset All tools, and then click OK.
And now you can see that those sticky settings for the Crop tool have gone away, and in fact, the settings for all of the tools have gone back to their defaults. To show you one more thing about the toolbox, I am going to put it back to double column view and I am going to move this document window over by clicking and dragging on the Title bar. I have done that so I can show you these boxes here at the bottom of the toolbar. These are the foreground color box and the background color box. Whatever color is showing in the foreground color box is the color that will be used by many of the tools.
For example, here is the Pencil tool and behind it a Brush tool. Both of those tools use whatever color is showing in the foreground color box. Here is a Gradient tool, and this uses both the foreground color and the background color, and there are lots of other tools that use colors. So you need to know how to change the colors in these boxes. There are several ways to change the foreground color, which is the one that you will use most often. One way is to use the Eyedropper tool right here.
I am going to select the Eyedropper tool and then I am going to move into the open image and I am going to click on a color in the image and notice that that color now appears here in the foreground color box. So if I were to now get the Brush tool and then drag with the Brush tool, the tool would paint with the green color that's now in the foreground color box. If I wanted to select a color for the background color box, I would switch these two boxes by clicking this double- pointed arrow or pressing X on my keyboard, and now, with the Eyedropper tool, I will click on another color and that becomes the foreground color and the green is now the background color.
So now if I select the Brush tool and drag, I will be painting with this orange color, but the green is available to me at any time by just clicking this double-pointed arrow or pressing X on my keyboard. As I mentioned, if I use the Gradient tool, I will be using both the green and the orange at this point. Another way to change the foreground color is to use the Color Picker, and this is actually a really common way. I am going to click once in the foreground color box and that opens this Color Picker over here.
I will start by dragging the sliders on this bar to the general hue that I want. So let's say I am looking for a blue color, I will move this slider up toward the blues and then, in this large area on the left, I will just click on whatever shade of blue I want, and that selected shade appears here in the new area of this square. If I click OK, that color blue becomes my foreground color and I can use it here in my image. Notice that there is a small circular icon where I am painting with this tool.
That's called the Brush Tip. The Brush tool isn't the only tool that has a Brush Tip. Lots of the tools do. Everything from the Eraser tool, to the Clone Stamp tool, to the Healing Brush tools, they all have Brush Tips. So you need to know how to make the Brush Tip bigger or smaller in the most efficient way. If I select a tool that has a Brush Tip, say the Brush tool, and I look at the Options bar, there's usually a field here for Brush Size. If I click the arrow on that field, I can drag the slider to change the Brush Size, but the problem is I don't know what number to choose here.
It's just all a blind guess. So I think a better way to change Brush Size is to do it in the image using the bracket keys on your keyboard. I am going to click in a blank area of the Options bar to close that slider and move my mouse over the image. Now, notice that I can see the size of the Brush Tip now. If I want that Brush Tip to be bigger, I am going to press the Right Bracket key on my keyboard a few times, and that key by the way, is just to the right of the P key and that makes the Brush Tip bigger, and if I need a smaller Brush Tip, I will press the Left Bracket key.
I can also change the softness of the edge of this brush by holding down the Shift key. Holding the Shift key and pressing the Left Bracket key will make the brush softer, although you won't see that here in the Brush Tip icon, and holding the Shift key and pressing the Right Bracket key will make the brush harder. So those are some productivity enhancing tips for using tools in Elements. I hope that you will find that they save you time and effort as you apply tools to your images in the full edit workspace.
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