Getting to Know the Work Area

The sample files are for Chapter 1 of Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book (2021 Release) and the text below follows the 2021 book.


Click the double arrow just above the Tools Panel to toggle to between a single and double column view of tool. We will use the double column format.

Use the 01Start.psd file from the Lesson01 files in our ITE 170 course in Canvas. psd is the native file format in Photoshop just as .fla is the native file format in Animate so if you double click on a psd file, it will open the file in Photoshop (if Photoshop is installed).


Zooming in and out is important - zooming in allows you to see portions of the image more clearly and to do some operations more accurately; zooming out allows you to see more of the image.

With a file open in Photoshop, the status bar at the lower left hand corner will show a percentage which is the current zoom level. A value of 100% means you are viewing the image at its natural size.

Select the Zoom Tool (looks like a magnifying class, at the bottom of the first column of Tools) or press upper or lower case Z to select it. At the top of the screen, right below the menu, you will see two magnifying glasses, one with a plus sign and one with a minus sign. Which button is highlighted (with the dark rectangle) will indicate whether clicking on the photo will increase the magnification or decrease it.

You can change whether magnification will occur or not by clicking on the appropriate button at the top before clicking on the image. If the current state is to magnify, you can change to decreasing magnification by holding down the Alt key and then clicking on the image.

If the Scrubby Zoom checkbox is selected in the options bar at the top, then dragging to the right in the image with the Zoom tool will increase the magnification whereas dragging to the left will decrease it.

Deselect Scrubby Zoom.

Options at the top

If Scrubby Zoom is not checked, If the "plus" Zoom is currently active, you can use the Zoom tool to drag a rectangle across part of the image - this results in magnification so that the enclosed area now fills the entire image window

Zooming and Scrolling with the Navigator Panel

Brightening An Image

Choose Window>Adjustments to open the Adjustments panel if it is not already open. Click the Brightness/Contrast icon (the first one, that looks like a sun) to display the Brightness/Contrast settings. Move the Brightness slider to 98; as you move the slider, notice how the image changes. Move the Contrast slider to 18, again noticing how the image changes.

The former change here seems to have a major effect, whereas the latter has a minor effect. The order in which these two changes are done does not seem to matter in terms of the amount of the effect.

Clicking the Auto button will change the Brightness and the Contrast to what Photoshop deems best. You can use the Edit>Toggle Last State to compare the two adjustments.

In the Layers panel, click the eye icon for the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to hide its effect and then click the icon again to show the effect.

Adjustment layers let you make changes without affecting the actual pixels; you can disable the edit by hiding or deleting the adjustment layer.

The use of layers is fundamental to Photoshop.

Save the file under a new name.

Sampling a Color

Using the same file, in the Layers panel, display the Ribbons layer and click in the visibility column so that the layer is visible.

  1. Select the Ribbons layer in the Layers panel so that it is the active layer. (this step is important for the deletion of the triangle that occurs several steps below)
  2. Select the Eyedropper tool in the Tools panel (4th down in the first column).
  3. Click the blue area in the Happy Birthday ribbon to sample a blue color.

The foreground color changes in the Tools panel and the Color panel.

Working with Tools and Tool Properties

Setting the Unit of Measure

Choose Edit > Preferences > Units & Rulers (Windows) or Photoshop > Preferences > Units & Rulers (Mac). In the Units section, choose Inches from the Rulers menu.

Using Context Menus

Context menus are short menus that contain commands and options appropriate to specific elements in the work area and are accessed by right-clicking. The commands are also available in panel menus but using the context menus can save time.

An example:

  1. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool in the Tools Panel - the top tool in the second column.
  2. Drag the rectangular marquee tool to create a selection about 3/4 inch tall and 2 1/2 inches wide, ending at the right end of the image. As you drag the tool, Photoshop displays the width and height of the selected area.
  3. Select the Brush Tool (5th down in first column) and right click anywhere in the image to open the Brush tool context menus.
  4. Select the first brush (Soft Round) under the General Brushes category and change the brush size to 65 pixels.
  5. Click anywhere outside the selection to close the panel.
  6. Drag the cursor across the selected area until it's fully painted - you don't need to worry about staying inside the selection; you can't affect anything outside the selection as you paint. (an important point)
  7. When finished, chose Select>Deselect to that nothing is selected.

Selecting and Using a Hidden Tool

A small triangle in the lower right hand corner of a button indicates that other tools are available under that tool.

An example:

1. Position the pointer over the Lasso Tool (2nd tool from the top in the first column). The Polygonal Lasso is hidden underneath the Lasso Tool. To select the hidden tool, use one of the following methods:

2. To draw a triangle at the left edge of the blue rectangle, using the Polygonal Lasso tool, click at each corner of the triangle (Every time you click will add a side to the polygon).

3. Press the Delete key on your keyboard to delete the selected areas from the colored bar.

4. Choose Select>Deselect to deselect the area you deleted..

Setting tool properties in the option bar

Select the Horizontal Type tool (the capital "T", the ninth tool from the top in the first column). In the Options bar at the top, select a font and a type a font-size of 32 pt. Click at the left side of the colored bar and type some name; don't worry about the positioning of the text or the fact that the text is the same color as the bar you typed it on. We'll fix those next.

Incidentally, you can place the pointer over most of the labels of most numeric settings in panels and in dialog boxes in Photoshop to display a scrubby slider - dragging the slider to the right increases the value, dragging it to the left decreases the value.

Click the Swatches tab to bring that panel forward, if it’s not already visible, then click the triangle next to the Pastel preset group to expand it, and select any light-colored swatch. (We chose Pastel Yellow.)

The color you select appears in two places: as the Foreground Color in the Tools panel and in the text color swatch in the options bar. The Swatches panel is one easy way to select a color.

Click the Horizontal Type tool once anywhere on the left side of the colored bar. “Lorem Ipsum” placeholder text appears as a sample of the current type specifications. It’s selected by default so that you can immediately type over it.

Type a name; we typed Elaine. It replaces the placeholder text. Don’t worry if the text isn’t positioned well; you’ll correct that later.

Click the check mark button to commit and deselect the text.

Click the menu button on the Swatches panel (the 3-bar icon at the top right) to open the panel menu, and choose Small List.

With the Horizontal Type tool, double click the text. The text is selected.

In the Swatches panel, click the triangle next to the Light group of presets to expand it and then select the Light Yellow Orange swatch.

Click the check mark button to commit and deselect the text.

The text color is the same as the Foreground Color swatch in the Tools panel.

Use the Move tool (top tool in the first column) to move the text as desired.

Undoing Actions in Photoshop

  1. Choose Edit > Undo Edit Type Layer, or press Ctrl+Z (Windows) or Command+Z (Mac) to undo your last action.

  2. Choose Edit > Redo Edit Type Layer, or press Ctrl+Shift+Z (Windows) or Command+Shift+Z (Mac) to reapply the orange color to the name.

    Each time you use the Undo command it reverses one more step, so if you want to undo five steps, you can apply the Undo command (or its keyboard shortcut) five times. The Redo command works the same way.
  3. If you want to switch back and forth between the current and previous steps you did, choose Edit > Toggle Last State or press Ctrl+Alt+Z (Windows) or Command+Option+Z (Mac) to go back, and then choose the same command again to go forward. Applying Toggle Last State multiple times is a great way to see a before/after comparison of your last edit.

More about panels and panel locations

Revised: October 21, 2021. Comments to Bill Pegram,