Basic tools in Photoshop

Basic tools in Photoshop

Article by Dhaval Shah

Adobe Photoshop is a very integral part of the digital workflow in Photography. It is a minutely designed software to aid photographers and digital artists to enhance images and designs on the digital canvas. The tools in photoshop are very carefully designed as well as keeping in mind the needs of the users. The tools might seem simple and to understand, however, mastering their use is exponentially beneficial to the users as it improves accuracy, saves time and brings finesse to their work. A lot of photoshop users know how to use the tools but to know how to exploit them to their highest benefit, not many can boast of.

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In this series of articles, we shall talk about the basic tools in photoshop, and an in-depth tutorial on the use of the same. We start with the Basic selection tools as all the photoshop work starts with making selections. The Rectangular Marquee tool and the Elliptical Marquee tool are the first of the basic selection tools.

Drawing with the Rectangular Marquee tool is simple as it extends corner to corner, however drawing with the Elliptical Marquee tool, it becomes difficult to locate a corner easily as the dimensions of the object may vary. The user can toggle between these two tools by holding shift + m on the key board.

1.Holding down alt/option key after beginning to draw from the centre outwards helps to make a clear selection.


2.a.Holding down alt/option key after the first selection is made, but before making the next selection will help you to subtract from the selection currently made. for eg. in the above illustration, we subtracted the coffee content from the entire selection of the mug.


2.b.Holding down the shift key before making the next selection will help you to add to the selection currently made.


3. A lesser known fact is that holding down alt/option + shift together and making a new selection, will only leave an overlap between the new and the previous selection.


4. Holding space bar while making a selection helps you to move it while the selection is still being made.


5. After making a selection, if you try to move it with the selection tool yet active, then you will only move the selection and not its contents. In order to move the contents, one must hold down control/command before you drag.



6. Holding down alt/option key along with the control/command key will help you drag a duplicate of the selection. Several copies of the same selection can be made by clicking the mouse several times while holding the alt/option key.


7. To restrict the movement of the selection to exactly vertical or horizontal, hold the shift key once you start moving the selection.

8. Selections can also be moved with the help of arrow keys. One tap on the arrow key(s) will move the selection by one pixel. If you hold the shift key along with the arrow keys, then the selection will move 10 pixels. Holding command/ctrl will also move the contents of the selection.This function is extremely useful as it helps to align the selection precisely.

In the next article, we shall talk about more tools, till then practice the tools we spoke about today, play around with the shortcuts  and get yourselves more acquainted with photoshop.

Image courtesy of voraorn at

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