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Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Lesson 5 of 36

How to Use the Zoom Tool

Dave Cross

Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Dave Cross

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Lesson Info

5. How to Use the Zoom Tool

Lesson Info

How to Use the Zoom Tool

One of the things that we also wanna talk about just on a basic level is, obviously we've got our image here, but we have to view it in different ways. So, if you look up here in the top, I'll zoom in a little bit so you can see, it's saying the name of the file, and it says 19.6%, which means, this is a fairly large file, which has been scaled down so I can see the whole thing. So, one of the things we have to think about when we're working in Photoshop is our view of the document, and I am a believer in going back and forth between this, let me see the entire photograph view, but not necessarily work in that view, because it's not terribly accurate. It'd be like saying, I'm working at 20% view, so I'm gonna paint a painting on a canvas with a paintbrush that's four feet long, and trying to be accurate. So, this is good for global things like, I wanna get the whole sky darker, so need to be able to make sure I'm getting the whole sky. When it comes to detail work, I wanna get in close...

r. So, this view that we're currently in is, under the view menu you can see all your views, and this one is called Fit on Screen. So, anytime you wanna see your entire image to see from a perspective of where I am relative to the overall image, Fit on Screen, this is another shortcut that most people can learn pretty quickly, 'cause it's zero, Fit on Screen, the command zero, and the Macintosh, control zero for PC. If I wanna get to actual size, then I'd go either under the view menu, and chose 100%, or the shortcut is command one, or control one. And you'll see, that zooms in to the center. Now, that little tab in the corner says 100% view, but it might not be exactly where you wanted. Maybe I want to zoom in on the climber. That keyboard shortcut says, let me zoom in to the exact center of your photograph, but maybe I don't want to zoom into that center area, I wanna zoom in somewhere else. So, for me, and you'll see me do this a lot throughout the course, is I'm gonna get close to some area, and then when I wanna see how it looks overall, command or control zero to zoom back out again. If you want to zoom to a particular spot, then you're better off using the zoom tool, because any keyboard shortcut for zooming is gonna always be based on the center of your image. So, there's also a shortcut that says zoom in, so if go command or control plus, you'll see each time it's zooming in, but, again, it's just zooming, same thing, it's zooming into the dead center. What I wanna do is I wanna zoom in on that climber. So, I need to identify for Photoshop where I'm gonna zoom in. So, for that, I like using the zoom tool, because it gives me control, because I suppose you could zoom in 100% size, and then scroll your view over, that would certainly work, but if you know that's where I wanna zoom in, I would just, that makes sense to me to do it. So, another simple to remember shortcut, letter z for the zoom tool. By the way, I didn't mention this upfront, but I'm actually originally from Canada, so it took me a long time to learn how to say z, instead of zed, like we would say in Canada, but if I say that, people are like, that's not true, is it? I'm like, yeah it really is. So, here's the difference, the zoom tool, if you can see, see where my cursor is? It looks like a little magnifying glass with a plus sign? If I position it right on top of him, and this is fairly new, in the early days of Photoshop you used to have to, kinda click and drag with your zoom tool to say I wanna magnify this area, but now there's this function called, I love this name, scrubby zoom. I don't know why, but that's what it's called. Which means you scrub, meaning move your mouse left or right, and it zooms in or zooms out. So, my cursor is right above the climber, I click and hold, and as I drag to the left, it zooms out, and if I drag to the right, that was an interesting choice to zoom right in there. And it takes a bit of getting used to, 'cause it kind of, even when you let go of the mouse, it kinda still keeps going a little bit, so it's not quite tied to, you know, we have to think about it a little bit, but you can see now you don't have to worry, so it's just like right, left. And this is working because, I think this is on by default, I'm pretty sure it is, but, if it isn't, up there on the options bar, you'll see there's a checkbox that says scrubby zoom. And this is another example of Adobe trying to keep everyone happy. The old way of zooming in and zooming out to me, now, when you're used to this, this is so much better, but some people don't like change. So, if they've been using Photoshop for awhile, they're like, oh I don't like scrubby zoom, so you can turn it off, and then use, I'm not even gonna show you the old way, 'cause it's so inefficient and not very good, but that's if yours doesn't work that way, you're like why isn't it doing this scrubby zoom thing, that may have been turned off at some point. Now, here's our first example of multiple ways to do the same thing. I showed you keyboard shortcuts that were fit on screen, and actual size. Up in the options bar when I had the zoom tool, there's buttons that do the same thing. So, if you're not a keyboard short kinda person, you can tap on the zoom tool, and go, oh I wanna go to fit screen view, that's exactly the same end result of using the shortcut without having to memorize shortcuts. So, Adobe does a good job of saying, you know, maybe you don't like shortcuts, so here's other options. This doesn't do anything different, it's just a different way to get to the same end result. So, let's go up back to 100%, so let's say I did use that shortcut, and I've zoomed into the center of the image. I said that like I did it. Like I zoomed in, well actually Photoshop did it, so it zoomed in right to the center of the photograph, but now I realize I wanna look further over to the left. So, that means I need to scroll over. So, I could go to the very bottom of the window, where you see these scroll bars, and drag, and then to drag back up, scroll up here, but this is what the hand tool is for. The hand tool changes your view. It's like you somehow stuck your hand on it, and said I'm just gonna drag around. So, when I take the hand tool, and, if I just click and hold, and I start to drag, you can see I can literally drag any direction I want. So, all I'm doing is holding down, I'm using a pen, but it could be your mouse button. So, that's gonna scroll around, which is the same end result as going back and forth between the horizontal and vertical scroll bars, but way more efficient. So, instead of thinking I need to scroll up, and come over, and get off my image, and do this. To me, it just makes a whole lot more sense to drag, because now I can, as I'm looking at it, and this is sometimes the way people, when they first open a photograph, and they kinda wanna see what issues am I dealing with here? They get to 100% view and just kinda drag around their image, and see if anything jumps out at them as problem areas like an old discarded Coke can that you don't want, or whatever it might be, you're just kinda looking around the image, and seeing what it looks like, knowing that, again, at any time, you can switch back to that Fit on Screen view to kinda keep yourself in the context of where you are. Marilyn asked, "can you print out the image you see on the screen where you zoom in?" So, can you print out that zoomed slide? No, that's actually, I'm glad that questions was asked, because this is just a view of what I'm looking at. Now, if you wanna do that, you'd have to take that area by selecting it, pasting it into a new photograph, and enlarging it to fit if you want to do that, or cropping that area, all things we'll talk about as we go, but that's a good point, this is strictly a viewing mechanism, it's not anything that's going to impact how it prints. It's just strictly what you're seeing on screen. So, as I mentioned, I'm kind of a keyboard shortcut, I guess I'm, some would say, a junkie, 'cause I just, I love keyboard shortcuts, because if I can avoid having to go and click on different things. So, for example, let's say I zoomed in to that 100% view, and I went to pick a tool, like, let's just say my clone stamp tool, or brush tool, something that's, you can see, there's that big brush there. But just before I go to use it, I realize I'm not quite in the right place, so rather than go and click on the hand tool, move my position, and then go back to the brush tool, which I could do, I mean that's certainly not a problem, but there are nice little shortcuts, that, even as a brand new person, are a good habit to get into, because it's such a time saver, and they're very simple in that there's wonderful visual feedback. So, if you're the kind of person, I just can't remember keyboard shortcuts. There's a few that are just, like in this case, a single thing. It's not like having to remember some combination of hold down all these keys. And the cursor will give you the feedback to help you remember. So, I've got my brush, so we can see that big circle, that's my brush, but at not quite in the right place, so I just hold down the space bar, and all sudden there's my hand tool. So, now, I can scroll over, when I let go of the space bar, it goes back to whatever tool I had. So, there's a lot of situations in Photoshop where you can make a good habit of not constantly switching back and forth between tools, but just temporarily activating one. And here's my suggestion for this, 'cause you're gonna be sometime later going, Dave mentioned something that I hold down something, and they got the hand tool, but I don't know, there's just so many pieces of information. Well, this is an example of something where, don't feel hesitant to just press something, and see what happens. The worst thing that could possibly happen is you'll select the wrong tool, and you'll get a speck of paint on your screen or something. Actually, the worst thing that could happen is your machine will start flaming, that's very unlikely, though, hardly ever happens. But, seriously, if you're not sure, I remember there was something I hold down. Was it, no it's not that. Was it, no it's not that. Oh, there it is. So, just don't click anything yet, but all you're doing is tapping and holding down a key, and the cursor will give you that feedback to say, oh yeah that's what I had in mind. And this is not in any way a necessary thing to do when you're first getting started, but I really believe that, over time, keyboard shortcuts are your best friend, 'cause they will save you so much time, and make you more efficient. So, if you get in the habit early on, of just remembering to try them, not fancy, I mean, I'll give shortcuts that are like, every single key in the left hand side with a letter, that are hard to remember. These are tap on a letter to get the tool, tap and hold on a key to temporarily change it. And, if you get in the habit of doing that, and I'll be honest, sometimes when you're trying to learn keyboard shortcuts, it actually slows you down at first, 'cause you have to go, wait a minute, what's the shortcut for that? You have to go and try to find it, and then implement it, but the more you do that, when I'm teaching, I have to sometimes remind myself to say out loud, I'm holding down the space bar now, 'cause otherwise it would just happen automatically. I don't even think about it anymore, because I just... Today, I went and clicked on the hand tool to show you where it was, but I haven't actually clicked on that tool in the real world for I don't even know how long, because it just became a habit to remember space bar for the hand tool. So, let's also talk a little bit about this viewing thing, one other aspect, because the temptation in Photoshop is, because we can, to zoom in closer and closer and closer. So, for example, here, I'm gonna take my zoom tool, and keep dragging in and get, oh look at that nice little bit, I wanna get rid of that little piece of orange on his helmet. Well, I'm currently at 597% zoomed in, which means, when I actually print this photograph, the human eye probably cannot detect the fact that I made some change. So, one of the worst habits that we develop at first, because we don't know any different, is zoom in really really close, and do all this finicky work that ultimately is so small, you'll never actually see it. So, I would suggest, resist the temptation to zoom into really high numbers. I tend to try to stay at 100% view, and I occasionally, maybe 200, but as soon as you go a little higher, a couple things happen. First of all, as you can see, the image gets more pixelized, so it's harder to work on it, and at a certain point, you actually start to see this grid, where you're seeing individual pixels. At any point, if you're tempted to do pixel by pixel editing, stop, rethink your strategy. And I've had people say, yeah, but it's gonna be printed really big, I'm like, well then you don't have enough resolution to do that, 'cause if you need to zoom in that close to the point where you're seeing big fat pixels, when you try and print it as a billboard, it's gonna look really bad. You need way more image quality to do that. So, and I use myself as an, I used to be the worst for this when I first started working on people's portraits, I would zoom into someone's eye, and be taking out little lines of red, like finicky work, and I'd go back to actual size, and realize I just wasted an hour, 'cause when I print this, her eye is gonna be this big, no one will ever see. I'll be happy, know, well I spent all that time to take out those red lines that no one will ever know I did. Wait, that probably didn't make a lot of sense. So, even though we can, Photoshop will let you zoom in to 3,200%. Why? I have no idea. Because I can't imagine going, oh, phew! Now I can edit all of those orange pixels one at a time. I mean, I suppose you could, but, I don't know, there's probably other ways to do it a whole lot more easily than that. So, my suggestion is, to you, for the most part, Fit in Window view, to get the overall aspect of let me make sure I'm not missing anything in my global photograph, and some changes, you can do it that size. If you're trying to say, overall, I want this photograph to be darker, lighter, more vibrant, whatever it is, then you can do that at 100% view, 'cause you're not trying to do detail work, but as soon as you're saying, I need to take this area, and work just there, then I'd probably get zoomed in closer. But, again, not overboard to the point, where, as soon as you start to see pixels, it's not gonna help you that much. Especially, when we talk later on about making selections, there's a technique you can use in Photoshop to say only work on particular pixels in my photograph by selecting them first, and some people have this mistaken idea that if I zoom in much closer the selection tools will work better. They don't. It just means, now you're trying to make a selection of something that looks very pixelized, and it doesn't help you at all. So, I would say a lot of the time, I do a lot of my work in Fit in Window view, initially. So, for example, in this case, and we'll talk about these techniques later on, if I wanted to end up with this sky selected for some purpose, I would start off using a tool that lets me do it in this view to get started, then zoom in and do some fine tuning of it. So, I ultimately end up with a nice selection, so I can change my sky or whatever as I want to do. But the alternative would be, if you're at 100% view, and start to use this tool, you wouldn't see the whole photo anymore to know am I missing something. And one of the things that, when we talk about roadblocks, things that stop people from having success in Photoshop, here's an example that's happened to so many people over time is, and, again, we'll talk more selections as we go, but when you have a selection active in your photograph, like I have that little rectangle there that's got these flashing lines, that means, right now, the only active pixels in this photograph are inside that rectangle, which might make sense for what I'm doing at this moment, but if I were to forget about that, and zoom in, and come over here, and start to try and use my paint brush, and wonder why I'm painting and nothing's happening, it's because it's over there, outside my view, there are still some active pixels that I haven't told it to stop doing that. So, part of that checklist that we talked about at the beginning, is if something's not happening, check to make sure you don't have some other area actively selected, because, like a lot of things in Photoshop, if you make a selection, say I only wanna work on these pixels, until you tell it otherwise, it'll stay that way. So, if you identify the sky to do some work, if you forget to tell it I'm finished there, then any other work you try and do anywhere else won't work, because as far as Photoshop's concerned, you've still told me work just in this one area. So, this checklist will keep getting added to as we talk through our different tools, and functions, and selections is one of them. If I've made a selection, then one of the things I'm gonna do is, if I think I'm finished, I'm gonna make sure I deselect, so that now the whole image is active again, I can keep working. So, as a little trouble shooting tip for you, if you're ever working at a zoomed in view like this, and some tool just doesn't appear to be working, and you can't figure out why, the first thing I would check is to see if deselect is an option. If it is, then that means somewhere on your photograph you have a little selection you probably forgot about. So, when you deselect, oh okay, now, so then I can do what I wanted to. Now, if a tool isn't working, and you go up here, and deselect is grayed out, then that means it's a different problem, because you don't have a current selection. So, anytime you see anything under a menu that's gray, that means it's not a choice based on your current situation, because I haven't selected anything yet, therefore, there's nothing for me to deselect. But that's a very common problem when you first are getting used to the zooming in, zooming out kind of thing to do your work is that you can forget that you had something going down in this corner that you can't see anymore. So, I suppose the other option, if I hadn't deselect, would be to go back to that Fit on Screen view, and then I might go, oh, that's the problem, I've got something going on down there I'd forgotten about. So, changing your view, zooming in, zooming out, very important, but at the same time, it's just a tool to help us. It's not changing the photograph. I'm not enlarging the photograph. I'm not scaling it back down. I'm simply saying, I'm taking this photograph, which is x inches wide, and zooming in close, so I can see what I'm doing, and zooming back out again. Later on, we'll talk about how to actually change the size. So, if you want it smaller, or cropped, or whatever, those are all different functions we'll do. I have a question from Jessica, "how do I get the zoom in and zoom out on my horizontal tool bar? I only have 100%, Fit Screen, and Fill Screen. So, when you go to zoom tool, those are the only options that you'll see there in the options bar. Everything else you can either do by hand, and if there are views that you don't see, then they're found under the menu, here. But you can see like 100%, Fit on Screen, it doesn't have zoom in, zoom out, because these are just kind of the main ones you would use 100%, Fit Screen, Fill Screen, for the zoom, in zoom out, then it's either under the menu, or a keyboard shortcut of command or control plus or minus. Cool. Okay? Alright, so, this idea of zooming in, zooming out is just something that we want to think about, but, as an example, of when we talked about, there's always multiple ways to do something, here's another example. So, I previously got my zoom tool, right? Tapped on the letter z to get zoom, and I was doing this scrubby zoom thing, and zoom back out again, but if we look up in the top corner, here, you'll see one of the things on our checklist should be that a lot of the tools have a couple of the options built in, so right now the zoom in tool is the active tool. There's also an option to say, well I know for the next little while that I wanna keep zooming out, I'm not sure why you would do that, but just, you know, as an example of something, I typically wouldn't tap that option even though it makes sense at the moment to say I wanna zoom out, because when you change a tool setting, that's now its default from then on. So, if I didn't think about that, every time I went to zoom in from now on, it would be doing the opposite. So, one of the questions that often comes up, well what if I do wanna zoom out, and I don't wanna use those scrubby zoom, maybe some people just don't like the scrubby zoom, I personally like it, but this is the way, I will end up showing it, I said I wasn't going to, but I will just for the purpose of demonstration. So, this is the way you used to have to zoom in was to basically identify the area you wanted to get into, but now if you wanna zoom back out again, you'll see it still has that plus sign in the middle, so if I put my finger on option, on the Mac, Alt for Windows, then it becomes a zoom out tool, and if you look up in the options bar, see that little icon is changing? It's going from plus to minus, but instead of me changing it, it's doing it automatically.

Class Description

Join Dave Cross in this beginner friendly class starting at the very basics with Adobe® Photoshop® CC. You’ll learn how to begin navigating the software and what the best practices and work habits are to approach different projects.

Dave will cover:

  • Working non destructively on your files
  • How to resize, crop, and straighten images
  • Using layers with basic layer examples
  • Adding text, color, and painting to images
  • How to retouch and adjust images using selections and masks
  • Learn how to use the tools you need to create the image you want. Dave will demonstrate using sample workflows that take you through projects from start to finish.

Don't have Adobe Photoshop yet? Get it now so you can follow along with the course!

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Adobe Stock Contributor

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Quick Notes Guide

Landscape Image for Practice Edit

Senior Portrait Missing Element for Practice Edit

Senior Portrait With Element for Practice Edit

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I really like Dave's methodical teaching style. Step by step works best for my learning processes. He also has a lovely voice to listen to during his classes, that is important if you have to listen to someone talk for any length of time. I also like the "dance" he does by explaining what he is going to do, then does it, and then comes back to explaining the choices he made and why. Very, very easy to follow him in his straight forward explanations. He increased my understanding of so many tools I use and so many I have never used. Wow! Photoshop with Dave took away a lot of "fear"! (Wish I had a "happy face" to place here!) I bought this class today because I don't think I can get along without it!

Jim Bellomo

I was so lucky to get to attend this class in person here in Seattle. I have been a fan of Dave's for years and own a number of his courses from Creative Live. When this class was announced I almost decided to skip it since it was listed as a "beginners" class but decided that it "might" be worth it. One of the reasons I wanted to take it was that I am self-taught. I had started with Photoshop 5 (not CS5 but 5) about 15 years ago (at least). I figured it I took this class I might learn a little something that would help me in my work. Well, two days later I have 18 pages of handwritten notes, a whole new way to work and it has already paid off in a huge way in my daily workflow. I bill out my hours at around $100 an hour as a graphic designer and marketing person. That means in the two days that I spent 10 hours a day taking the class and commuting to it, it cost me about $2000 in working time. But it didn't. I can guarantee that I am way ahead on this one. I l learned so much. The real world things I learned will pay off for a very long time. Within one day after the class I had already started changing my workflow to be more non-destructive and faster. Dave is an awesome teacher and I can't say enough good things about this class. Even if you think you know Photoshop, you don't. I teach it in my small world but I learned so much.


A writer and an old person (over 60), I rarely use neat exaggerations like "great" or "fantastic," and never say "awesome" in the currently fashionable manner. However, I would call this class both great and excellently planned. Cross is well-spoken and a consummate teacher with a rarely non-irritating voice. It is information packed, clearly presented, well-organized, and extremely helpful. I wish I could afford his others.