Tool Options Bar Adobe Photoshop

A design introduced in Photoshop 6, the tool options barshows a tool’s modifiable attributes, if available.Some settings in the tool options bar are common to several tools and some are specific to one. It simply says there are no options if nothing’s modifiable. If your tool options bar has mysteriously disappeared, you can bring it back by pressing Return(Win: Enter) or choosing Window; Options. (Note that Return [Win: Enter] is not a toggle for the tool options bar, it merely retrieves it.)

The tooloptions bar as it appears with three different tools

The tooloptions bar as it appears with three different tools

Palette Well

The tool options bar also holds the palette well. The well is great for organizing andmanaging palettes because you can dock most of them there. To dock your palette, drag its tab into the palette well so the palette well is highlighted. Then you can use the palette just by clicking its tab in the palette well. The palette remains open until you click outside it.

If you don’t see your palette well in the options bar, check your resolution

If you don’t see your palette well in the options bar, check your resolution

If your screen resolution is less than 800×600, you do not see the palette well and many of your dialog boxes may get cut off. The user’s guide recommends at least 1024×768.

Palette Navigation

Some palettes are grouped by default. You can modify the way palettes are presented with these actions:

  • If the palette you want is not at the forefront of the group window, left-click its tab. The triangle in the upper-right corner of the palette signifies a palette menu with options related to the functionality of the associated palette. For example, if you click the triangle on the Layer Comps palette, you get a submenu with options such as New Layer Comp, Delete Layer Comp, and Update Layer Comp.
  • Check Show Tool Tips in the General Preferences dialog box(found through the main menu bar under Photoshop; Preferences; Generalif you have a Mac orEdit ; Preferences > General if you have a PC) and hover over a button at the bottom of a palette’s shortcut buttons. You see the button name.
  • Double-click a palette tab or the palette title bar to collapse a group. This way only the title bar and its tabs are visible. Double-click again to restore the expanded view.
  • Click the palette tab and drag it out of its group window to separate any palette from its group. When you release, the palette is in its own window.

Visual Palettes Overview

I have grouped the following palettes according to how they’re organized by default in Photoshop CS. You do not have all the palettes if you’re using an older version, and some are grouped differently. (For example, in Photoshop , the Color, Swatches, and Brush palettes were grouped.) These dissection views should get you acquainted with each of their functions.

Navigator/Info/Histogram

These palettes all give image information. Navigator previews the image you are working on, along with zoom information. Info displays pixel color information under the mouse pointer(no matter what tool is selected)and relates positional data. Histogram is a graphical representation of your image’s tonal range.

The Navigator, Info, and Histogram palettes with all their submenus

The Navigator, Info, and Histogram palettes with all their submenus

Color/Swatches/Style

These palettes all deal with your tool’s paint, whether that be the Brush, Paint Bucket, or any other painting tool. Color displays the color information for the currently selected foreground and background colors. Swatches holds a selection of predefined color samples. Style enables you to apply a predefined style to your layer. A style is a combined effect of different filters that holds true for the entire layer. Since the swatches and styles are presets, you can also access the preset manager from each palette’s submenu.

reveals these palettes

reveals these palettes

reveals these palettes

The Color, Swatches, and Style palettes with its submenus. Notice that the preset manager is accessible via the submenu.

History/Actions

Both of these palettes deal with recording steps you take while using Photoshop. The History palette displays every task you perform in Photoshop, which allows you to selectively edit your steps. Actions holds semiautomated routines, which are Photoshop’s version of macros or scripts.

These are the History and Actions palettes with all submenus.

History and Actions palettes with all submenus.

Layers/Channels/Paths

Layers, Channels, and Paths are types of content that are layered within the image, contributing to the overall image. The Layers palette displays the current image layers, with the foreground on top and the background bottommost. Each file in Photoshop is comprised of channels that store information(typically color information)in the image. Depending on the mode, Channels reflects this information and lets you manage and edit the separate channels. Paths holds the different vector lines created using the Pen tool.

The Layers palette is probably the most often used in Photoshop.

Layers palette is probably the most often used in Photoshop.

Character/Paragraph

As you can guess, both of these palettes deal with text. Character provides formatting options, such as font and size for individual characters. Some of these options are available in the tool options bar when you select the Text tool. Paragraph gives you paragraph formatting options, such as justification and line spacing. By default, these palettes are not out; you have to go to Window ; Character or Window; Paragraph to bring up the palettes.

Seldom do I need to use Character or Paragraph palette for VFX work, but it’s here just in case you need to create a sign on a building or something.

Character/Paragraph

Brushes

By default, this palette is located in the palette well, but you can access it by going to Window ; Brushes (though why would you do so when it is actually faster to just click on the tab in the palette well).

Just so you know what the Brush palette looks like:

what the Brush palette looks like

Tool Presets

By default, the Tool Presets palette islocated in the palette well, but is also available via the tool options bar. You can see its two locations in Figure 18. For any tool that can set presets, this palette can be seen in a flyout palette by clicking the inverted triangle next to the tool icon in the options bar. Tool Presets allows you to save and easily reuse a particular tool’s specific settings.

Notice that you can access Tool Presets from two different locations.

Notice that you can access Tool Presets from two different locations

Layer Comps

Layer Comps is also located in the palette well, and is of course available via Window ; Layer Comps. Layer comps are especially handy when dealing with variations. This palette acts a bit like a History palette for layer composite snapshots. It’s shown in .

Layer Comps

Layer Comps


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