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What is Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is one of the most powerful software applications for image editing, touch up, color correction, and painting and drawing. You can use it to work with images that have been digitized on flatbed or film/slide scanners, or to create original artwork. The image files you create in Photoshop can be printed to paper or optimized for use in multimedia presentations, web pages, or animation/video projects.

This guide is intended to introduce you to some of Photoshop's many editing tools and capabilities. You will find that there is often several ways to accomplish a task when working on a project in Photoshop.


The toolbox contains selection tools, painting and editing tools, foreground and background color selection boxes, and viewing tools. Because the toolbox contains many tools, it can be difficult to remember each of them when you're first getting started with the program. You can display the name of each tool and its single letter keyboard shortcut by positioning the pointer over the tool. You don't need to click a tool to see its name; position the pointer over the tool for a few seconds and the tool name will appear.

To select a tool, either click the tool in the toolbox or press the tool's keyboard shortcut. For example, you can press b to select the paintbrush tool from keyboard. Selected tools remain active until you click a different tool.

Some of the tools in the toolbox display a small triangle at the bottom right corner, indicating the presence of additional hidden tools. You can access these hidden tools by clicking and holding down the left mouse button on a tool that has additional hidden tools; when the hidden tools appear simply drag to the desired tool and release the mouse button.

2. the palettes

Photoshop's palettes control the behavior of its tools. The Windows menu displays a list of palettes available. When you select the palette you want from this menu, it appears as a floating window in your workspace. By default, the Photoshop palettes are arranged along the right side of the window, generally grouped in threes. To activate a palette you simply click on its tab.

1.) showing or hiding a palette: To show a palette, go into the Window menu and select the palette you want to show. To hide a palette, go into the Window menu and select the palette you want to hide. You can also click on the close button in the upper rightt-hand corner of the palette to hide it. To show or hide all open palettes at once, press the shift key, then the tab key. To show or hide all open palettes and the toolbox at once, press the tab key.

2.) selecting a palette: Photoshop stacks palettes together when it displays them. For example, when you select Show Layers, Photoshop displays the Layers, Channels, and Paths palettes stacked together in one window with the Layers palette on top. Tabs behind the palette shown list the names of the other palettes in the group. To display a palette in a group, click on its tab. To move a palette out of its stacked grouping and into its own window, click on the tab of the palette you want to separate and drag it out of the window.

3.) moving a palette: To move a palette, click on the top of its window and drag it to the desired location.

4.) making a palette smaller: To make a palette smaller, double-click on the palette tab. The window will collapse to show just the palette's name. Double-click on the tab again to make the window full sized again. You can also manually resize the palette window by dragging the bottom right-hand corner of the window.

5.) accessing each palette's menu: Each palette has a variety of menu options. To access these options, click on the right-pointing arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the palette. A pop-up menu will appear displaying these options.

3. the color palette:

The Color palette displays the color values for the currently selected foreground and background colors. You can change foreground or background colors by altering the color values or by clicking on a color in the color bar at the bottom of this palette.

4. the swatches palette:

The Swatches palette displays the color look up table (CLUT) for the image file that is currently open in Photoshop. To select the foreground color, click on the color you want to use. (Your cursor will turn into an eyedropper when you move it over the Swatches palette.) To select a background color, hold down the ALT key and click on the desired color. To add a new color to the Swatches palette, use the eyedropper tool to select a color from the Color palette or from your image. Then position the eyedropper over an empty space in the Swatches palette and click to add the new color to the palette.

5. the layers palette:

Photoshop's Layers palette displays all the layers in an image. Layers are organized with the most recently created layers at the top of the palette. Using the Layers palette, you can change the order of the layers in your image, duplicate or delete existing layers, show or hide layers, and set options for each layer in your image.

6. the history palette:

The History palette, which is new in Photoshop 5.0, records and displays individual changes made to an image and allows you to undo them. Every time a change is made, Photoshop saves the changed state of the image in the History palette. You can also delete unwanted changes and view the state of your image before and after you change it

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