Tools / Tool Bar

In this article, I will introduce the most important tools for image processing, using Adobe Photoshop Elements as an example. The tool bar offers you wide range of editing tools. The tools are organised into different sections: metering and navigation; selection tools; text; crop; correction; brush; draw; shapes; dodge, burn; colour selection. You can open and close the “tool bar” by clicking on the category “window” in the menu bar. The tool bars in various image processing programs vary in terms of scope and appearance, but many symbols look similar, which makes transferring your knowledge onto a different processing program much simpler once you’ve understood the basic functions and application of the tools.

Photoshop Elements displays the name and the respective short cuts for the various tools if you move the cursor over it. Pay attention to the options bar that changes, depending on the selected tool and provides different settings.

Further information about the individual tools can be found in their respective articles.

Work space with tool bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements] Work space with tool bar [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]

Metering and navigation

Tools for metering and navigating [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]
In the top left corner, you will find the move tool and the hand tool. The move tool allows you to move content between different layers. Be aware that this is not possible if the layers are locked. Locked layers can be distinguished by the lock icon in the layer panel. The hand tool allows you to navigate the chosen image section. You can change over to the hand tool from almost every tool using the space bar and then move the image section. With the zoom tool, you can zoom in and out of your image, therefore, changing the observation scale. The eyedropper tool allows you to meter and record colour by clicking on the image section. You can then select the colour in colour options (see below) and you can use the selected colour for other tools.


Selection tools

Selection tools [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]The following section is about selection tools. Selection tools are very important in image processing. Using these tools, you can select the image areas and crop them or only make changes to certain areas. Depending on the task at hand and image subject, certain tools are more or less suited for the job. The difference between the individual tools and their purposes are explained in detail in the article on the topic “Selection tools“. 
Some tools are concealed at first glance. Whenever there is a small triangle next to the tool, there are more tools, i.e., tool options available. To select them, run your cursor over the triangle and click on the left mouse button.

Example Lasso tool [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]

Text, Crop, Correction

Text, Freistellung, Reparatur [Abbildung:  Adobe Photoshop Elements]The text tool allows you to insert text into your images. These texts automatically have their own layer. This allows you to determine the position of the text. You can subsequently change the font and the font size. Using the crop tool you can crop rectangular shaped sections of your images with different aspect ratios. The cookie cutter tool enables you crop image sections into different shapes, e.g., heart shape, star shape etc.. Using the alignment tool you can rotate your image and in doing so, e.g., align the horizon centrally. The next step is using the correction tools: using these tools you can correct image sections. These tools are explained in detail in their respective articles.

Brush, Pen, Shapes

Brush, pen, shapes [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]The tools in this section offer you creative editing possibilities. As well as painting and drawing tools, there are also colour-fill and colour gradient options. Additionally, there are various shapes that can be inserted. The blur and sharp focus tool are effective when dealing with image details.

Dodge, Burn, Sponge

Dodge, burn, sponge [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]One classic editing tools can be found relatively far down on the list. This tool was already used in analog photography in the darkroom to optimise images, the dodge/burn tool.
With these tools you can brighten or darken an image section and in doing so, change the lighting conditions for subsequent sections.
With the sponge tool you can increase or decrease the colour saturation of image sections.

Colour choice – Colour boxes

Colour boxes [Image: Adobe Photoshop Elements]Using the colour boxes you can select foreground and background colours.

Be aware that an array of setting options is available for the individual tools.
The tool mentioned above can also be opened by keyboard short cuts. This makes working with Photoshop Elements convenient and efficient. The short cuts are displayed if you move the cursor over the respective tools. An overview of the short cuts can be found the article Short cuts.  Short cuts for easy file management in Windows can be found here File management with short cuts

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