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Photoshop tools: A comprehensive guide for beginners

03 September, 2018

Photoshop is one of the most powerful tools for designers and photo editors. In this article, you will come to know about the common Adobe Photoshop tools and uses. We have explained about Photoshop for editing the images, as it is the most extensively used tool. Here, you will get a basic concept about the different tools present in the toolbar in Photoshop software, the contents in the menu and the palettes you find on the right hand side of the screen.

list of photoshop tools and uses
Photoshop tools and their functions


Here are several important photoshop photo editing tools and their functions that every photo editors must be using.

  1. Cropping tool

  2. The cropping tool is a valuable feature of Photoshop, using which you can eliminate any unnecessary element from the image. You can simply leave out an element that you feel unnecessary in the picture. When you prepare an image for printing or posting online, you need to change its size, or remove the empty spaces from it. It comes handy in these cases. This is one of the most important photoshop editing tools that the editors should be using.

  3. Healing brush

  4. In order to remove small specs and scratches in the image, you can use the healing brush tool. It works like a paintbrush and allows the users to make the image more perfect. The healing brush comes useful while removing blemishes in Photoshop. The users can copy a part of the image that seems to be perfect over the scratches and specs. As a result, these elements are eliminated from the image and blend the sections accurately. The areas that are replaced will look natural when you use this tool properly. Therefore, nothing in the image will look out of place.

  5. Move tool

  6. Using this, you can simply move certain objects around the canvas in a given layer. This is one of the most important Photoshop functions. You need to drag after clicking on the canvas in order to use the tool. When you drag the layer in Photoshop will move along, according to the movement of your mouse.

  7. The Marquee Tool

  8. It is one of the most useful photo editing tools in photoshop. It comes with simple features, and can perform a number of tasks. You can select particular areas of any image using the tool, copy them, cut and crop the areas. You can choose four different shapes with the tool. These are ellipse, rectangle, single column and single row.

  9. Pencil and Paintbrush

  10. This is one of the extensively used photoshop elements editing tools. You can choose different types of paintbrushes in Photoshop. The users may choose a standard paintbrush, or use airbrush styles in the process. The brush tool enables the users to paint different types of shapes.

  11. Clone stamp

  12. Using a clone stamp, you can create a sample part of a particular image and paint other areas using it. This is an important tool, used for image editing. You can simply select the colour from one area and use it to paint another area.

  13. Pen tool

  14. In case you are interested in drawing vector graphics, you can use the pen tool. This is one of the most commonnly used photoshop tool for beginners. You can also use this in creating various paths.

  15. The Hidden Tool

  16. The Toolbar hosts many tools, each of which is visually depicted through an icon. Apart from tools that meet the eyes, a number of other tools are also available. Using them you can further improve your image editing skills.

    It can be made apparent by clicking and holding on a given icon. Alternately, you can right click in Windows or Control click in Mac on the icon to view and access extra tools. A menu would fly out displaying the additional tools that you can work with. Some of these are being discussed below.

  17. Lasso

  18. This free-form selection tool has to be dragged around the desired objects on the canvas for selecting them. Clicking on the tool icon will let you access other sub-tools. The polygonal lasso allows selecting objects on the canvas by clicking on strategic areas for creation of interlinked points in polygonal shape. The magnetic lasso behaves like regular lasso and additionally carries out edge detection for spontaneously snapping to them.

  19. Patch Tool

  20. This facilitates drawing of a freeform outline around the defective region to select the same. The defect can be repaired subsequently by getting the selection outline dragged over the region whose texture you prefer.

  21. Eyedropper

  22. You have to click the desired area of the canvas with eyedropper tool for sampling the color on the clicked point. It would automatically convert the foreground color to the color which was sampled by clicking canvas part.

  23. Eraser Tool

  24. The functions exactly as the paintbrush. The difference lies in the fact that instead of painting, it erases the portion over which it is moved.

  25. Type Tool

  26. You can type in horizontal manner with this. The hidden tools under the ‘Type tool’ offer additional functionality of typing in vertical manner as well as creation of text masks in horizontal or vertical direction.

  27. Path Tool

  28. It similar to move tool and can facilitate moving around of all created paths in desired manner.

  29. Hand Tool

  30. Clicking and dragging around the Photoshop canvas is facilitated by this. This would be ineffectual if the complete canvas sits flush with the screen. After zooming in, you can easily move around using this. It also proves handy when the image is so big that it fails in fitting the screen at normal level.

  31. Rotate View (R)

  32. You can visualize and subsequently edit a picture from various angles by using the ‘Rotate View’ tool which actually reorients the canvas at desired angle.

  33. Zoom Tool

  34. Just click at a particular point on the Photoshop canvas and then zoom out or in using this. When you normally use this, it is programmed to zoom in only. For zooming out, you need to press down the option key and then start using the zoom tool in normal mode.

  35. Color Selection

  36. The colors that you have working with on Photoshop canvas can be managed using ‘Color selection’ tools. Foreground color is the color that sits on the top and would be used by brushes. Background color is in the back and is used when anything from the background is removed or extended. Shortcut functions can be accessed by clicking on any of the 2 smaller icons that sit on the top. One icon, that sits on the left, is represented by a black square atop a white square. Click on it would result in setting of the colors in background and foreground to defaults. Clicking on another icon in the shape of double headed curved arrow would result in swapping of the colors in background and foreground. When you click on any color in the background or foreground, a color picker would pop up which can be used for setting the color that you exactly need.

  37. Dodge Burn and Sponge

  38. You can lighten the areas in the picture by retouching and painting over them with Dodge tool. You can darken the areas in the image by painting over them with Burn tool. Color saturation can be increased or decreased over selected regions of image by painting over with Sponge.

  39. Magic Wand tool

  40. When you click on an area with this tool, the spot gets selected and other similar areas. Generally, it is used to eliminate backgrounds from the photos. In case you are willing to do photo clipping using photoshop, you will find this feature useful.

  41. Crop tool

  42. In order to remove certain objects in the photo or reduce the size of the image to certain dimensions, you can use this. The users can constrain the tool to certain proportions after specifying a particular size. Besides, it allows the users to crop the images to a size that suits their needs.

  43. Shape tool

  44. Users can use the shape tool to create rounded triangles, circles, vector rectangles, polygons, circles, custom shapes and lines. When you design shape masks in your photos, you will find this tool handy.

  45. 3D tools

  46. These tools are necessary in Photoshop editing, especially when you need to add 3D effects to your images.

  47. 3D material drop

  48. It is extensively used in 3D modeling. It is necessary to have knowledge on the photoshop editing techniques, which will enable you to integrate the necessary changes in the images. You can create a sample from one area of your image and use it in other areas to create similar features, like 3D layer or mesh.

  49. Smudge, sharpen and blur tools

  50. These are among the important photo retouching tools in photoshop, and all of them work like the paintbrush. However, they create different effects on your image. If you are willing to blur a particular area, you can use the blur tool. The sharpen tool can be used to sharpen the area, while you can use the smudge tool to smear the surrounding areas. In case you are integrating blended colours in your image, the smudge tool will come extremely beneficial.

  51. History brush

  52. It allows the users to paint back and keeps a record of all your activities. By default, the number of records is fixed at 50. Using the history brush, you can paint elements of the past in the present image.

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