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Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 8 of 8

Blur and Shape Tools

Ben Willmore

Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

8. Blur and Shape Tools


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Lesson Info

Blur and Shape Tools

All right, we have other tools in our tools panel we have not gotten to, yet. Let's move down just below our gradient tool. We have a tool that looks like a drop of water. That's the blur tool. The blur tool can be used to blur your photograph, of course. So, if I come in here and I want something to not be as crisp, I could use this tool and just paint across an area, and the more I paint, the blurrier it gets. But it's rare for me to do something like that to a photograph. It's not rare at all for me to do it when using other features in Photoshop. Let me see if I can show you an example. Let's say I made a selection. Maybe I use the quick selection tool, and I painted over this guy's head and his arms, and then I refined it a little bit. Right now, I'm holding down Option, Alt on Windows, which takes away... Let's see if I can refine it just a little bit. In the session that we had that was just about selections, I used a feature that's called quick mask mode, so if you're not famil...

iar with it, be sure you watched the complete guide session on selections, but, to use quick mask mode, I ended up having a selection on my screen, and then I ended up typing the letter Q. I'm gonna do that right now and it's gonna take the selection I have, and display it as quick mask. It gives me a red overlay. Well, often times I find that that transition between this area that's red, that indicates it's not selected, and the area that doesn't have red on it, is too crisp. It's too abrupt of a transition. Maybe it's something like his arm, here, is getting to be out of focus. If it's getting to be out of focus, then I might need that edge to be softer so it matches the edge quality of the picture. And if that's the case, then, let me see if I can create this condition. I'll make a crisp edge, here. His arm is slightly out of focus, there. Well, then I'm gonna end up grabbing that blur tool. With the blur tool active, I'll just come in here and I'm blurring the edge of the mask when I paint. Try to get it to match the blurriness of the edge of his arm, because that's the type of selection I would need if I wanted to truly isolate that person, accurately. So, anytime I end up with a selection that looks like it's too crisp of an edge, especially when viewed in quick mask mode, I get into quick mask by typing Q, and then I grab that blur tool and I'll go right around the edge, and therefore, I can get a selection that both has a crisp edge near the top and has a softer edge near the bottom. Now, there are all sorts of other tools. We'll use a lot of them in other sessions, but the one I might want to talk about now, is the shape tool. Let's create a brand new document for that. And I want to show you how the shape tool, which allows you to draw very simple shapes. If you look at the shapes that are here, we have rectangles, rounded corner rectangles, ellipse, polygon, line, and custom. Custom, when you choose it at the top of your screen in the Options bar will be a choice over here called Shape, and if you click there, you'll have all sorts of different shapes to choose from. Well, sometimes you don't find the custom shape you want, and you just can't find it here to use what you like, so, I want to show you how you can create more complex shapes using these simple, original ones that are available. In this case, I'm gonna use the polygon, and what I'm gonna end up doing is I'm gonna click on my image and drag, and you'll see that you get the polygon. If I drag straight down, and I hold the Shift key, Shift will ensure that I'm moving straight down instead of at an angle. I'm gonna create something that looks about like that. Now, let's see how we can make that a much more complex shape. I'm gonna come in here and go to the Edit menu, and there's a choice in here called Free Transform. Since I'm working on a path, it says Free Transform Path. When I choose that, I can get a transformation, and I can end up rotating this. But right now, I'm limited to rotating this by pivoting it around the center of this object. They made a change a while ago in Photoshop. There used to be a crosshair in the center, if you ever transformed something. And to simplify things, because people didn't know what that crosshair meant, they took it away. But if you turn on this little checkbox in your Options bar, right there, when you're transforming, that little crosshair in the middle comes back. That's what it used to look like in old versions of Photoshop. That's the pivot point, and that means if I rotate something, I rotate it around there. Well, I'm gonna click there and drag it down here to the middle of my document. So now if I rotate, it's gonna pivot around here. So, when I grab this, you can see that it would go all the way around like that. But when I rotate it, right now, it will let me rotate it to any angle. If you hold down the Shift key when rotating, it's gonna limit you to 15% increments, I believe. If I go right to about there, now, the tips of the polygon kind of matches, so, I'll do that. Now, the problem is it ended up moving the original. I wish it would have moved a duplicate. Well, I'm gonna come up here and there's a choice when you choose Transform called Again. And that means to use the exact same settings I just used. So there, I can get another one. Then, there's a way to get it to duplicate as it transforms. Well, it happens to be that in Photoshop, if you hold down the Option key, when you tell it to do it again, Option, which is Alt in Windows means to do it on a duplicate. So, I just went in here and I found what is the keyboard shortcut for Again? It's Shift Command T. So, I was just typing the keyboard shortcut and I typed that one, but I added the Option key, as well, Alt in Windows. So, that means, what I was typing was Shift Option Command T on a Mac, that would be Shift Alt Ctrl T in Windows. And that ended up duplicating the shape each time it was transformed, and I get this. Well, then if I change my tool, here, I'm gonna grab the ellipse tool, which will allow me to draw a circle or oval. I'm gonna click in the center of this, and there's actually a way to find the center by doing, what you do is, with this whole layer active, you transform, but you have to get the whole thing selected, and then you can pull out guides to mark the center. I'm not going to do that, right now. But I'm gonna grab this ellipse tool and in the Options bar, you can tell how is it going to interact with things up here. Should I create a new one or should it add or subtract? If I choose that, it should add to this, if I've got it set correctly. I'm gonna click in the middle, and then I'm gonna draw like that. In order to be able to do it from the center, you have to hold down the Option key, Alt in Windows. Then, I can tell it to subtract. Or, I can tell it to combine, which is gonna add and you can get as fancy as you want. Here, I'll go out to about there on a new shape, then I'll tell it to subtract. You can see how I've made a gear out of otherwise simple shapes. And so, with this, you can create really complex shapes using simple tools, as long as you experiment, and each time you use the shape tool, you come up here and look to see is it going to make a brand new layer? Or is it going to combine with what's already there? Or take away from it? And I happened to use some of those features in order to start with simple shapes and end up with complicated results. And there's my result. Then, finally, if I want to stylize this, I'm gonna go to the Window menu, and there's all sorts of panels we can use, here, to stylize this. If I come in and choose, let's say, my swatches panel, well, here, I got a bunch of colors I can use. If I just click on the colors, we can change what it looks like, but that looks a little boring just with a solid color in it, so let's go to the Window menu. We can instead go here and choose Styles. Styles are gonna add 3D and drop shadows to it, so I'm just gonna click on the choices that are found in the styles panel to see if I can find something I like, there. Nice, with the edge on it. There are all sorts of panels that we can end up with. They're all found under the Window menu, so experiment with what you have. The one that I would suggest you use quite frequently is one called Color. The one called Color can be a replacement of your color picker. You know how usually I click on my foreground color and something shows up where I can change colors? Well, I can just do the same thing, here. Just pick the general color you want from this vertical bar, grab a shade of it from the big area. You can customize this by going into the side menu. I like using the one called Color Wheel. Then I see a wheel of color, and I can pick whatever color I want out of that, and then in the middle where there's a triangle, I can pick a shade of that color. So, that's one that I use quite frequently. Notice the color panel. Once I've gotten the color I like, I can store it here, in the swatches panel. At the bottom, just hit the little plus sign and you'll store the color, there. So, all sorts of things we can do, here, with our tools and our panels. It'll take you quite a while before you really get a sense for all of them. I try to go in there and show you the ones I use most frequently, but we will get into other ones in other sessions here, in Photoshop, the Complete Guide.

Class Description


  • Understand the difference between Opacity and Flow
  • Utilize the History Brush to selective undo changes
  • Use the Library panel to store commonly used elements
  • Combine the Eyedropper tool with the Color and Swatches panels to make color choices easier
  • Create and apply presets to speed your work


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)