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Adobe Photoshop Tools and Panels

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the default Adobe Photoshop workspace layout

Adobe Photoshop Tools and Panels

Adobe Photoshop is modular in it is layout and it is infinitely customizable. In the default configuration, the panels are located on the right-hand side, the tools are on the left and the options bar which displays the most useful parameters for a selected tool is across the top of the work area. There is also a standard menu bar at the very top of the application. Adobe Photoshop Tools and Panels

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Workspaces

All of the program elements, with the exception of the menu bar, can be dragged around and docked with other panels to create your own custom work area called a workspace. There are a number of pre-set workspaces that can be selected from the right-hand side of the menu bar, the default workspace is called “Essentials” and can be recalled at any time by clicking on the button. This is very useful because beginners will often accidentally close or collapse panels and can’t remember how to restore them.

the default Adobe Photoshop workspace layoutFig 1. The default Adobe Photoshop workspace layout

a close up of the workspaces available from the top right corner of the menu bar

Fig 2. a close up of the workspaces available from the top right corner of the menu bar

If you cannot see all of the workspace options shown in fig 2, they can be accessed by clicking on the >> icon. Alternatively, they can be accessed from the Window menu > Workspace.

Each open panel has its own fly-out menu that contains commonly used functions. The menu can be accessed by clicking on the a icon at the top right of the respective panel.

an example of a fly-out menu, in this case, accessed from the layers panelFig 3. an example of a fly-out menu, in this case, accessed from the layers panel

Some panels are often represented by a strip of icons docked on the left-hand side of the open panels. The full panel can be revealed by simply clicking on the icon. However, it is not always clear to beginners what these icons mean. The solution to this is to left-click with your mouse and drag on the left-hand side of the icon strip. This will expand the icon strip to reveal the name of the function associated with that icon. Adobe Photoshop Tools and Panels

panel iconsFig 4. panel icons

The Tool Bar

The toolbar (or tool panel) is located by default on the left-hand side of the work area. It contains mouse-based tools that are used for editing and navigation in Photoshop. Most of the tool icons have a small black down-pointing arrowhead in the bottom right-hand corner. This indicates that these are more tools that can be accessed by clicking and holding down the mouse button. Once the extended tools have appeared, you may release the mouse button and the tools will remain.

an example of multiple tools, available from a single tool icon.Fig 5. an example of multiple tools, available from a single tool icon.

The tools in the toolbar are loosely grouped according to their functionality. You may notice that there are small lines or spacers separating the groups of tools. The first group of tools is used for creating selections, the second group is the pixel editing tools, the third group is the vector editing tools and the final group is the navigation tools. At the bottom of the toolbar, there is a color picker and the very bottom is an icon that allows you to enter the quick mask mode for creating and editing selections.

tool groupingsFig 6. tool groupings

The Options Bar

The options bar is a context-sensitive panel. Which is to say, that it changes depending on which tool is selected in the toolbar. It provides access to the most important configuration settings for a particular tool. For example, in fig 7 the options bar has changed to provide the attributes associated with the Move tool. We have the show transform controls and a range of alignment options, which are faded in appearance because in this case, no layer was highlighted in the layers panel.

the options associated with the move tool.Fig 7. the options associated with the move tool.

The Menu Bar

all of the menus and items located in the menu bar of the Photoshop standard editionFig 8. all of the menus and items located in the menu bar of the Photoshop standard edition

The menu bar contains many menu items and many submenu items. The most important functions in the menu bar have been assigned keyboard shortcuts which are customizable from the Keyboard Shortcuts section of the Edit menu. Many of the functions in these menus are accessible from the Fly-out menus in the various panels. The option to work with keyboard shortcuts, the menu bar or the fly-out menus is one of personal choice and is down to your particular workflow, or may be determined by the type of input device you are using the mouse, graphics tablet or trackpad, etc.

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This post contains content of the book An Introduction to Adobe Photoshop Steve Bark

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