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Photoshop’s Toolbox

In this lesson, you’ll be introduced to Adobe Photoshop’s Toolbox, and a lot of the tools it has to offer. A solid understanding of the tools showcased in this tutorial will lead to better comprehension of Photoshop in general.

Anatomy of the Toolbox

Diagram of Photoshop’s Toolbox

The toolbox in Photoshop is split up into 4 unique categories so that finding the right tool is never a hassle. Those categories are:

  1. Selection, Crop & Slice Tools
  2. Retouch & Paint Tools
  3. Drawing & Type Tools (Vector Tools)
  4. Annotations & Measurement Tools

In addition to these 4 sections a few other components make up the toolbox, most notably, the Foreground and Background colors.

Now that you see how the tools are all organized, let’s take a look at some of the most vital tools Photoshop has to offer. This is really just a cursory glance of the toolbox, as we’d be crazy to go into detail for EVERY SINGLE tool Photoshop has to offer in a single lesson, but you ought to now have an understanding what some of the tools are capable of. We’ll go over how to use many of these tools in later lessons.

Selection Tools

Selection Tools

The Marquee Tools are used for selecting objects such as rectangles, squares, and ellipses.

The Move Tool is used to move selections, objects, and layers.

There are several Lasso Tools which are used to make irregular selections. There is a polygonal lasso tool for polygon selections, and a magnetic lasso tool which automatically follows edges of objects.

The Magic Wand Tool selects an area of similar colors in a single click (such as the white in the cloud logo).

Crop Tool

The Crop Tool allows users to redefine their active image area but not resize the ENTIRE image. It’s sort of like cutting out a smaller picture from a larger photo with a pair of scissors.

Retouch Tools

Healing Tools

There are several healing tools in Photoshop which are used to repair imperfections in images, or handle blemishes and red-eye.

Clone Tool

With the Clone Stamp Tool, a user may select a source starting point somewhere on an image, and then paint elsewhere using that starting point as a reference, effectively cloning the source.

Eraser Tool

The Eraser Tool can be used to erase parts of an image, selection, or layer.

Sharpen Blur and Smudge Tools

The Sharpen Tool is used to sharpen edges in an image, while the Blur Tool burs edges. The Smudge Tool smudges an image, similar to using fingerpaint.

Dodge Burn and Sponge Tools

The Dodge Tool lightens parts of an image while the Burn Tool darkens. The Sponge Tool is used to saturate, or desaturate parts of an image.

Painting Tools

Brush and Pencil Tools

The Brush and Pencil tools are used to paint strokes in graphics. These tools can be highly customized for very effective painting.

Fill Tools

The Fill Tools are used to fill entire layers, selections and areas with a solid color, or gradient.

Vector Drawing & Type Tools

Type Tools

The Type Tools are used for creating and setting type in an image. Both vertical and horizontal type can be created.

Pen Tools

The Pen Tools are used to create clear shapes and paths which can be used as vector objects that can be scaled to any size.

Custom Shapes Tools

Cutom Shapes are vector objects that can be created on the fly from a list of presets (including user created shapes).

Foreground / Background Color

Foreground and Background Colors

A foreground color and background color can be set to be used to paint with, color text, and fill objects among other things. This view provides an easy way to see what colors are currently selected, and allows for easy switching between two different colors.

Using Tools

To actually use a tool varies from case to case (again, we’ll be covering nearly everything you’d want to know in the future lessons). To Select a Tool from the toolbox, simply click it once. If the tool displayed has a black arrow in the bottom right corner, that means that there are more tools of that type hidden underneath it. To select one of these hidden tools, hold down the mouse button while over it, and then release once you’re over the tool you’d like to select.


  1. Add point Subtract point
    Praiselcy (-5 Points) March 2, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Thank you so much:)

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    DeathsAngel15 (12 Points) January 26, 2011 at 9:18 am

    yey~ thanks to this tutorial, i got a perfect grade in my assignment in i.c.t.~!!!!!

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  3. Add point Subtract point

    Good overview of what each tool does. Esp dodge, burn, etc.

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    prometheus (-5 Points) December 16, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    could you be more specific about which tools to use it is for begginners

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    Quintus (4 Points) December 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

    This is really good way to start learning Photoshop

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    Stacey Hardwick (-4 Points) November 12, 2010 at 10:11 am

    dont tell me to shushhh! your right next to me

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    Stacey Hardwick (2 Points) November 12, 2010 at 10:08 am

    now im feeling so fly like a G6

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    mehdi (-1 Points) August 9, 2010 at 9:34 am

    i am from iran and this sit is very interesting for me
    thanks a lot.
    i have 1 qustion plz answer me?
    how can i Successful in phptoshop?
    thank u

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    panggonepian (-1 Points) July 31, 2010 at 4:35 am

    nice and very helpfull tutorial .. thanks.

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    welgred (2 Points) July 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

    thanks a lot! hopefully i could share my new design. more power! god bless…

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    uttam (-2 Points) June 2, 2010 at 5:18 am

    thank u so much friend, for ur valuable information.

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  12. Add point Subtract point
    Saira (-2 Points) May 8, 2010 at 6:21 am

    wow good information..
    i found a fantastic Website for really cool Photoshop tips and Tutorials

    where all tutorials have a higher page rank and professional

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  13. Add point Subtract point
    Web Design (0 Points) April 26, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Great information and wonderful way of explaining things. THanks so much

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  14. Add point Subtract point
    kavyasudah34 (1 Point) April 6, 2010 at 4:05 am

    Great article. Thank you. congratulations!! post to webmaster “legitimate work at home jobs”

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    emptynessdancing (2 Points) April 4, 2010 at 1:03 am

    What a relief to finally come across a site that sets out the steps to learning this so well. I’ve owned PS for a while now but until now been unable to find any tutes that teach this in a style a beginner can comprehend and not be overwhelmed by complicated terminology Very grateful to you..thank you.

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  16. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลง (0 Points) March 30, 2010 at 4:15 am

    Thank you for your information.

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    mating (0 Points) March 21, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  18. Add point Subtract point

    Very Helpful design for lerning of new designer . . .. . . .. . .

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  19. Add point Subtract point

    i haven’t the expressions to thank you.

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    เนื้อเพลง (1 Point) February 3, 2010 at 12:02 am

    wow Cool tip thank for sharing.144

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (0 Points) February 2, 2010 at 1:37 am

    wow Cool tip thank for sharing.130

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 2:54 am

    wow Cool tip thank for sharing.124

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    ดาวน์โหลดเพลงฟรี (0 Points) January 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    RAJESH (1 Point) January 3, 2010 at 8:32 am

    iam very happy with these website simply super

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  25. Add point Subtract point
    Vikas Kumar (0 Points) December 14, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    hi, pls tell me more about the new count tool in photoshop CS3.

    vikas kumar

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  26. Add point Subtract point
    Kamalasekaran (0 Points) December 14, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Really, it meets the requirements of the beginners. Thanks a lot

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  27. Add point Subtract point
    dekpitado (0 Points) November 24, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Infame ijo, buen material para la gente ke va empezando en photoshop :) definitivamente tu pagina se va a favoritos..

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  28. Add point Subtract point

    hi, I’m new for photo shop. so, i like your teaching and thanks for teaching

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  29. Add point Subtract point

    The study is better than any other websites which also teach how to use PhotoShop.

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  30. Add point Subtract point

    very nice…i like it because it use to educate us..

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  31. Add point Subtract point

    Hello David,

    I am happy to visit your blog. congratulations for the efforts you have been taking to spread the knowledge among amateurs and professionals. I am still an amateur, could you please explain me the use of mesh warp tool and its benefits?

    With regards

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  32. Add point Subtract point
    Andres Felipe Rendon Hernandez (1 Point) August 31, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    Thank’s very much for taking the time to create this great explanation por First time user of PS.

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  33. Add point Subtract point

    I have used PSP for about 8 years, but I am new to Photoshop. The terms are familiar, but their use is not. So, I hope these tutorials start from the beginning. If I have to know anything that PSP didn’t teach me, I will be in the dark.

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  34. Add point Subtract point
    Sachin Gaikwad (0 Points) June 30, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Hello David,

    I am happy to visit your blog. congratulations for the efforts you have been taking to spread the knowledge among amateurs and professionals. I am still an amateur, could you please explain me the use of mesh warp tool and its benefits?


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  35. Add point Subtract point
    John (2 Points) June 25, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks very much, its handy to have each tool briefly explained.

    Being able to get rid of red eye in photos that easily is quite cool too. :)

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  36. Add point Subtract point
    wisnu_kala (-2 Points) June 23, 2009 at 3:09 am

    Hi sir,

    I’m Wisnu Kala from Indonesia
    Your tutorials are very Freakin’ Awesome!

    I can learn more than enough here,,
    It’s expensive to take a PS course in Indonesia but you make it free!

    Again thank you v m sir,,

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  37. Add point Subtract point
    Annu (-4 Points) May 26, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Hi David, Very nice work on Tutorials Thank you

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  38. Add point Subtract point
    bineet chaubey (-6 Points) May 18, 2009 at 7:50 am

    hi sir
    your are intelligent .and your article are knowlege oriented

    sir am a biggner lurning to adobe photoshop. please tell me how we can use pen tool to meke an apple?.
    pls provide me full detail about pen tool use

    Flag as inappropriate
  39. Add point Subtract point
    Jumpy Bean (1 Point) May 14, 2009 at 5:30 am

    Hey David, thanks for your efforts and congratulations on this wonderfully crafted and well maintained FREE tutorial!!! All the best for your further efforts in this direction.

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  40. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (-2 Points) May 3, 2009 at 4:50 am

    what do slice do? its not explained here?

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  41. Add point Subtract point
    AztKfullHD89 (0 Points) May 3, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Wow! Dude, your site is awesome and these tutorials are great if your getting into the world of photoshop. And the best part… is FREE! Keep it up, you’re doing a great job here!

    Flag as inappropriate
  42. Add point Subtract point
    Sakaki_Wave23 (0 Points) April 11, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    you think you can help with outlining for pencil drawings?

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  43. Add point Subtract point
    Vizag (0 Points) March 11, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Informative, Thank you verymuch.

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  44. Add point Subtract point

    Hi – This is a big help, as all your tutorials are. Did you leave out the SLICE tools here though?

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  45. Add point Subtract point
    Rinaldo (0 Points) February 12, 2009 at 3:59 am

    It really helpful for beginner like me!. thanks

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  46. Add point Subtract point
    pretty joy (0 Points) February 5, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    thanks for the tutorial. really helped me a lot!

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  47. Add point Subtract point

    tnx, you really help a lot in my assignments and activities.godbless

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  48. Add point Subtract point

    @ Amanda – If it was working correctly before, a simple fix could be simply restarting Photoshop. See if a quick restart does the trick. If not, it may have to do with your Photoshop preferences.

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  49. Add point Subtract point
    Amanda (0 Points) June 18, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I have a slight problem. When I select a tool or brush, etc the picture of what i have selected isnt on the screen. what i mean is that say i want eyelashes as my brush, usually once i select it is then visible as my cursor so i can see what im doing but now it looks like 4 dots in the shape of a diamond with a dot in the middle so I cant see what im doing.I really hope this makes sense.Can you please help me??

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  50. Add point Subtract point
    Mothership (0 Points) June 4, 2008 at 8:39 am

    I feel bad. We paid for CS3 and I am using possibly 1/50th of its potential.

    On to the next tutorial…

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  51. Add point Subtract point

    Well, mostly because I haven’t found the need to upgrade to CS3. I may upgrade when CS4 comes out, but there just wasn’t enough change in CS3 to justify purchasing it for someone with my kind of budget.

    With all that said, the differences in how things work are hardly any at all. Someone who can navigate CS2 will just as well be able to navigate CS3 or previous versions of Photoshop.

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  52. Add point Subtract point
    Matthew Keefe (-2 Points) May 27, 2008 at 5:14 am

    Awesome tutorial for beginners. Question though, why did you create the tutorial using Photoshop CS2? When CS3 has been out for over a year now?

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  53. Add point Subtract point
    Justin (0 Points) May 17, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    I really enjoy your tutorials. They are soooooo incredibly helpful to us beginners. Please keep it up!

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  54. Add point Subtract point
    paulescudero (0 Points) May 9, 2008 at 1:13 am

    perfectfor my classhereinthe philippines. thanks a lot. very nice indeed.

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  55. Add point Subtract point
    Jimmy Root (0 Points) May 8, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Can I just say that these are some of the most useful tutorials I’ve ever seen for beginners of Photoshop. They really do give a brilliant overview of the program…I have a friend who has recently begun to share my addiction to Photoshop, and I’ll definitely be showing him this site. Can’t wait till you guys start publishing more advanced tutorials viz Grey Cobra.


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  56. Add point Subtract point
    Argjendii (0 Points) May 2, 2008 at 7:29 am

    can i translate it on albanian ?

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  57. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks Tyler =) I’m trying my best to get as much writing done as possible right now. It’s a bit hard as I’m pretty involved in other things outside of the Tutorial world, but I’m committed to making Tutorial9′s content as polished as possible.

    @ Domi L. – I will be going over all of the tools with time. I personally consider the Annotations & Measurement Tools the least important for getting started with Photoshop (typically, those tools are used more in a group environment), but will be going over them nonetheless sooner or later. Hope you’ll stick around!

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  58. Add point Subtract point
    Domi L. (0 Points) April 18, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Hi. Nice tutorial.
    What about the “Annotations & Measurement Tools” though? Will you tell us how they work? Thank you.

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  59. Add point Subtract point
    Tyler durden (0 Points) April 17, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    man your pumping these things out like crazy

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  60. Add point Subtract point

    Always a nice thing to hear JAZCASH =) I’ll be covering each set of tools in more detail throughout the rest of this series, so stick around!

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  61. Add point Subtract point
    JAZCASH (2 Points) April 17, 2008 at 6:05 am

    Another nice tutorial, this should help me a fair bit, cheers.

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