[Photoshop – Tutorial 3] – Introduction to the Toolbox (contd.)


Before we start with this tutorial everyone should have an idea about layers.

So, consider a simple transparent glass plate of some dimension. We draw something on it. Now,  take another glass plate and draw something else on it. Club these two glass plates and see the result. Hence, we have the combination of what we did on both the glass plates individually. This is how layers work in Photoshop. You are working on a particular layer and clubbing it with other layers to have the desired result. If you remove one glass plate i.e. one layer of the drawing on it, the editing on that layer will be removed. This type of editing which is done in layers is called as Non- Destructive editing and allows us to change our mind whenever we want to and change the way a picture looks.

Now, lets us have a broader look at the tools in our Toolbox. Along with each tool we are provided a lot of flexibilities to customize the way we want out tool to use. These options are given to us on the Options bar. In the following discussion we will have a look at the option bar corresponding to each tool. Though, the functionalities of these tools will be explained when we will work with some projects since that will give a clear idea of the things.

As we discussed in the previous tutorial, the toolbox is divided into four categories. So, let us look at the first category of tools that is the Selection & Crop tools.

Now, again we should know what is the need to make selections in an image? The answer is very simple. Consider the fact that you like everything about an image but only some parts are not proper and you want to edit them, in such cases the selection tools prove very handy. They let you select particular part of images and hence you can edit them the way you want.

1. Firstly we have the Move tool (V) which we have already discussed that it is used to move parts of images when working in layers. Now, one of the most important uses of the Move tool is when we have many layers below the layer we are working on. When we do advanced projects involving more than 20 layers we cannot find each layer from the palette box since it is hard to scroll in see for the layer we want to work on and select them for doing the editing or modifications. In such a situation Move tool is very helpful.

So, for example you need to select a layer in a document with lot of layers. All you have to do is right click anywhere on the image and you will get a list of all the layers that are there below that point and from there you can select a particular layer and do the modification.

The options bar for move tool is

2. Secondly we have the Marquee tool (M) with four options nested under it. Right click on the Marquee tool and a small window will open with the following.

  • The Rectangular Marquee tool : Which can be used for rectangular selections. Now, you can obviously make square selections using the options box with input of equal units of length and breadth.
  • The Elliptical Marquee tool : This can be used for making elliptical and circular selections in an image.
  • The Single Row Marquee tool : This selects a single row of pixels from an image.
  • The Single column Marquee tool : This tool selects a single column of pixels from an Image


One thing to be noted when we select any tool is the Options bar. We can see the various options by which we can customize the tool and the way we want it to work. The options bar when we select the Marquee tool is

3. Then, we have the Lasso Tool (L) which is again a selection tool. As discussed earlier we can take random selections from this tool i.e. any random selection. Now, let us have a look at the other tools nested under this.

  • In the window apart from the Lasso tool we have the Polygon lasso tool which takes polygon selections. Click on one part of an image and drag it to the other parts and you can create a polygon selection. Remember that you must close the polygon by going back to the point where you started to make a closed selection else nothing will be selected.
  • Secondly, we have the Magnetic Lasso tool. Now, this tool is very handy tool when we want selections on the basis of the difference in color pixel density of the image. By color pixel density we mean that the darker color and lighter color in particular part of an image or we can say it makes selections by the contrast difference. This tool has to power to judge the color pixels density and makes selections according to that. Please try this once yourself and you will understand what this means.

The options bar for Lasso tool is


4. The Magic Wand Tool (W) has only one option nested under apart from the Magic wand itself.

  • The Magic Wand selects the parts of image according to its properties such as luminosity or parts with similar color density and is very handy for selection if some area has similar pixels and you want to select that whole part. Magic wand does this with once click.
  • The other tools that is the quick selection tool which we will be using mostly. It is mostly used to select parts of images because this tool makes selection on two basis. The first is the pixels. It selects pixels with same color density or luminosity or saturation etc. and secondly it also takes care of the shape and very well understand when we only want to select a particular shape and does a pretty well job.

Exercise: On an image click on  a particular area and drag on a shape, you will find this tool to be doing a pretty good job.

The options bar for this tool is

5. Then we have the Crop tool (C) which we know is used to trim an image to a predefined aspect ratio or our manual ratio. Now, here Photoshop provides a lot of flexibilities which we will understand as we go along. The nested tools under this are the Slice tool and Slice select tool. Now, these too are not used generally. So, it is not explained here but if you are curious to know i can give you an idea that Photoshop images can be transformed into webpages (HTML). So, slice tool allows us to create various shapes which will be there as buttons or other links in the final transformed HTML document. The options bar for Crop tool is

6. The last tool in this category is the Eyedropper tool (I) which as explained earlier is used for selection of the foreground color that is the color which we are going to work with. Along with Eyedropper  there are Color sampler, Ruler tool & Note tool nested under this. Since, we generally do not use these tools often, we will skip them. But for general knowledge you should know that the color sampler logs the color you click such that you can get its info from the info bar, the ruler tools logs the angle and distance between two points and the note tool allows you to take notes and paste them in the form of a point object on an image such that if someone else needs to know that information it is there for them to read.

Just remember that eye dropper tool is essential if we want to choose any pixel’s color as our foreground color. The option bar for Eyedropper tool is

So, here we wrap us this tutorial. We will get to know about all other tools in the part 3 of this tutorial and then we will start working directly on images so that you can understand each tool and options provided to us in  Photoshop. Also, we will discuss some important shortcuts that makes our life easy and enjoyable while working.

Your exercise for this tutorial is to open any image and play with all the tools explained here. Try the options nested under the tools also use the options bar to manipulate your tools. Try different things. The more you will explore yourself the more you will understand the beauty of this software. If you have any doubts, please leave a comment below.


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