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Exploring the Tools and Working Environment

Edward Andaya

Exploring the Tools and Working Environment


Objectives:
In this lesson, youll learn:
Understand the Photoshop interface Control panels Maximize screen real estate Customize the Photoshop interface Use workspaces Open and work with multiple documents

Overview:
Learning Photoshop is not the quickest or easiest task in the world, but there is something that can make it a lot easier: Start off with a good foundation of knowledge about the workspace and its general functions, including becoming a stickler about knowing the name of each part of the workspace.

Learning about panels and menus is not the most exciting thing, but understanding the interface is a critical step in becoming a power user. Many self-taught users have a great deal of artistic skill, but find it difficult to become true professionals because they are inept at following workflow basics. Each tidbit of interface knowledge may seem small and insignificant on its own, but compounded they will allow you to produce your best work in the shortest time.

Source:
Photoshop Basics
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Exploring the Tools and Working Environment

Edward Andaya

Photoshop CS4 Professionals Digital Classroom by Jennifer Smith & the AGI Creative Team How to do everything Adobe Photoshop CS4 by Chad Perkins

About Panels
The work area in Photoshop is largely made up of several task-centric, mini work areas called panels. Most workflows use the Layers panel most frequently. Panels can be contracted and expanded to allow you more room to work. When expanded, panels that have been grouped together are tabbed (see Figure 1-1). When theyre collapsed, you can view the panels as icons and names, or just as icons, as shown in the

accompanying illustrations. Its probably best to stick to the iconsand-names view until you can readily identify panels by their icons only.
FIGURE 1-1 Each tab represents a different panel, and panels are grouped together.

FIGURE 2-2 Click the arrows on the upper-right of the panel to collapse the panel.

When the panels are collapsed in either the icon-and-name view or in the icon-only view, you can see the full-size panel as a pop-out by simply clicking the icon. Click the icon again to return the panel to its collapsed state. You can also collapse the panel again by clicking the two right arrows on the upper-right of the panel (see Figure 1-2).

Discovering the Tools panel


When you start Photoshop, the Tools panel appears docked on the left side of the screenit is not a floating Tools panel, as it was in earlier versions of Photoshop. There are four main groups of tools, separated by functionality on the Tools panel: selection, cropping, and measuring; retouching and painting; drawing and type; and 3D and navigation.
A. Selection, cropping, and measuring tools. B. Retouching and painting tools. C. Drawing and type tools. D. 3D and navigation tools.

Photoshop Basics

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Exploring the Tools and Working Environment

Edward Andaya

Selection, Cropping, and Measuring Tools

Drawing and Type Tools

Retouching and Painting Tools

Photoshop Basics

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Exploring the Tools and Working Environment

Edward Andaya

3D and Navigation Tools

Other Key Interface Elements


Before we move on to customizing the Photoshop work area, lets get familiar with the other components of the interface, as shown in this figure.

Key interface elements

The Menu Bar


Photoshop Basics
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Exploring the Tools and Working Environment

Edward Andaya

At the very top of the interface, we have the Menu bar. As we go through this lesson, when I instruct you to go to a particular menu (for example, the Filter menu), this bar is where you would find the menu. These menus are great, especially when youre first learning Photoshop. For example, as you are working with layers, you may get stumped when trying to perform a certain function. Chances are, you can click the Layer menu and find what youre looking for.

The Application Bar


Immediately below the Menu bar, we find the Application bar. This is new to the CS4 version of Photoshop. This area is a convenient place to access commonly used features and tools. From the Application bar, you can launch Adobes file-browsing application, Bridge. You can also select the Hand tool to view a different area of an image, or the Zoom tool to zoom into or out of an image.

The Options Bar


Below the Application bar is the Options bar. This area is context sensitive, meaning that it gives you options for the tool that is currently selected. I find it very helpful. Photoshop tools are great, but they often need to be fine-tuned and tweaked before they deliver the results youre looking for. The Options bar is the headquarters for such adjusting.

The Application Frame


Along with the Application bar, the Application frame is a new feature of the CS4 version of Photoshop. The Application frame is essentially just the gray background in Photoshop. On Windows, or now on a Mac with the Application frame visible, you can simply doubleclick anywhere in the blank gray background to open a file. This is a great shortcut to the other methods of opening a file. Note that this only works for the first image you open. After that, youll need to open images by going to the File menu or by using the shortcut.

Retrieving Missing Panels


If you need to work in a panel that youve closed, or if you need to access a panel that is not visible by default, all you have to do is select it from the Window menu at the top of the screen. From this menu, you will see a list of all of the panels available to you in Photoshop. As you can see in this figure, the menu has even more panels than the default workspace

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Exploring the Tools and Working Environment

Edward Andaya

would lead you to believe. In the Window menu, when the name of a panel has a checkmark next to it, it indicates that panel is currently open in the interface.

Navigating the image area


To work most efficiently in Photoshop, youll want to know how to zoom (magnify) in and out of your image. Changing the zoom level allows you to select and paint accurately and helps you see details that you might otherwise have overlooked. The zoom function has a range from a single pixel up to a 3200 percent enlargement, which gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of viewing your images.

Photoshop Basics

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