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Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 3 of 8

Eye Dropper and Color Sampler Tools

Ben Willmore

Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

3. Eye Dropper and Color Sampler Tools

Lesson Info

Eye Dropper and Color Sampler Tools

Below that you're gonna find the eyedropper tool. The eyedropper will allow us to pick colors from within our image to paint with. So if I return to the images we were using a minute ago, and let's say, I had this image, and I would like to add text up near the top of the image that might be in the same color as the olives that are right in front of the person's hand that's in here. Well, if I end up using the eyedropper tool I can move on top of my image, and if you watch my foreground and background colors right over here on my screen when I click, let's say I click on one of these more reddish objects, you'll see that my foreground color just changed to the color I've clicked on. I'll click over here, it's either a lemon or an orange, and we can get that color, or I get the color that I described before which is of the olives near his fingers. Then if I were to use the text tool that would be the color of the text that I could end up using. But the eyedropper tool ends up helping us...

. Up here in the options bar for the eyedropper tool we have a sample size. Point sample means look at the exact color at the very tip of that eyedropper and ignore everything that's surrounding it. If I change this to three by three average. It will average an area three pixels wide and three pixels tall, a little square. And therefore any noise or little specs that are found will kinda be averaged into the surroundings, and you usually get a slightly more accurate color as what you are seeing. And you can also make it larger and larger area that it averages. As we get to higher and higher resolution original pictures, then I start tending higher, like five by five or 11 by 11, to get it to average an area. We can sample all the layers or just the colors in the current layer. And then this thing says show sampling ring. Well watch what happens when I click on an area. As I'm clicking, I see a ring showing up. On the outer edge of that ring is gray, and that's just so I can compare the color I'm picking to gray, because therefore I can tell if it has a hint of color in it. So in other words, if I go over here to the right side of the picture and click, I can tell that that has the tiniest bit more blueish than a normal neutral gray, or if I come up here to this metal bracket, I can tell if that's purplish. Mainly because I can compare it to that outer gray ring. Then also when I click you'll notice the ring has a top and bottom half. The top half is what I'm currently choosing the bottom half is what I had last. Therefore right now I have green, but when I go over here and click again, green will be on the bottom indicating what I had previously and the color I have now is above. Therefore I can compare them. If you find that ring can be distracting all you have to do is turn off the check box in the options bar that's called show sampling ring. You should be aware that the setting over here called sample size, is not gonna just affect the eyedropper tool, it will also affect other things. If I remember correctly, the magic wand tool, when you click within your image, and it tries to select things of a similar color to what you click on, it will use that sample size setting. So if you set it up really high and you try to use something like the magic wand to click and exact pixel, you'll find it's averaging in its surroundings. The same is true for other eyedroppers you find in Photoshop, like the ones that you find when using curbs. If you happen to watch the lesson that we had on color adjustments, I showed you how to do color correction with little eyedroppers. And this setting is going to affect that. And using something like three by three average, or five by five average, would be an improvement on the technique that I demonstrated when we did color correction. So that is our eyedropper tool. With the eyedropper tool, you can also change your background color. So right now I got my foreground color, if I option click, that's alt clicking in Windows, I'll be changing my background color instead. And therefore, if you wanted to do something like make a gradient from two different colors, and you want to choose those colors from within your image, you'd usually need your foreground and background colors to be the colors you wanna start with. And therefore you can quickly change it using the eyedropper. I should mention when you're in the paintbrush tool, and you might be painting on your image, if you wanna very quickly be able to sample colors out of your picture to change the color you're painting with, when you're in the paintbrush tool, you can hold down the option key, alt in Windows, and that will give you the eyedropper tool just for the length of time that you have that option key held down. Therefore I can come in here and option click on one color, paint with it, then option click on another, paint with it, option click on a third. You'd just very quickly be able to change between various colors, taking them right out of my picture. And so that can be nice. And all it is is when you're in the paintbrush, you hold down the option key, alt in Windows, and click within your picture. There is another tool that is found under the eyedropper, the same slot that's there. I mean there's a bunch of tools, but we don't, in this class, talk about the 3D features in Photoshop, but we might occasionally want to use this one. It's the color sampler tool. Let's see what it does. If you happen to have watched a lesson that we have on adjusting color, that's part of the Photoshop complete guide, then you would notice that I, in that class, use the info panel. And I said that when I put my mouse on top of the image the numbers that were in the info pallette were a precise description of the color that's underneath your mouse. Well if you need to keep track of a color as you adjust the picture, then there's a way to get extra readouts in the info panel. And you do it with this tool, which is called the color sampler tool. If I click on my image, I can click in up to four different areas in the image and get up to four read outs in the info panel. Each time I click, you see that in the image itself there's a little crosshair with a number in each area where I click. And then in the info panel there are extra read outs and they're numbered. So this one corresponds to the little crosshair that's on my image that had the number one next to it. So when we adjust the color, and I wanted one area to match another, I ended up taking a sheet of paper and writing down the numbers. What I could have done instead is use a color sampler. You click on the area where I wanted to remember the numbers, then this is the equivalent to my sheet of paper. It just wrote down those numbers. Then when you're making an adjustment, you'll find that there'll be two sets of numbers in here. So if I were to do something like create an adjustment layer for instance. Right away in the info panel, you'll find that now there are two sets of numbers. And that means you're actively adjusting the image. And the number on the left is what you started with. The numbers on the right are what you're ending with, meaning the results of your adjustment. And so I could have used that when I wanted one area to match another. I would have put in two color samplers, one for the area I wanna change, and one for the area I'm attempting to match. And then I could be comparing the numbers in the info panel as I made the adjustment. When you're done using the color sampler tool, those little cross hairs will stay on your picture, but they don't print out, and they don't show up in other programs other than Photoshop. So you're welcome to leave them there if you want. If you want to get rid of them though, when you're in the color sampler tool, there'll be a button in your options bar just called clear all. And that will remove them all from your image. So if you just don't visibly like the way they look, you're welcome to clear 'em all when you're done. And that is the color sampler tool.

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)

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