Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Making the most of the tools in Elements, part of Photoshop Elements 11 Essential Training: 2 Editing & Retouching Photos.
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.
- Arranging the panels and interface
- Cropping and resizing photos
- Creating new layers
- Refining selections
- Hiding content with a layer mask
- Using adjustment layers
- Correcting color, lighting, and contrast
- Converting a color photo to black and white
- Creating a panorama from multiple photos
- Retouching blemishes and wrinkles
- Making adjustments in Camera Raw