The edit tools

The edit tools don't apply color; rather, they influence existing colors in an image.

Figure 5-4 shows each of the six edit tools applied to a randomized background.

Future sections cover the tools in more detail, but here's a brief introduction:

♦ Blur: The first of the two focus tools, the blur tool blurs an image by lessening the amount of color contrast between neighboring pixels.

♦ Sharpen: The second focus tool selectively sharpens by increasing the contrast between neighboring pixels. Generally speaking, both the blur and sharpen tools are less useful than their command counterparts in the Filters menu. They provide less control and usually require scrubbing at an image. Maybe I've been using a computer too long, but my wrist starts to ache when I use these tools. If, unlike me, you like the basic principle behind the tools, but you want to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome, you can achieve consistent, predictable results without scrubbing by using the tools in combination with the Shift key, as described in the next section, "Basic techniques."

♦ Smudge: The smudge tool smears colors in an image. The effect is much like dragging your finger across wet paint.

♦ Dodge: The first of three toning tools, the dodge tool lets you lighten a portion of an image by dragging across it. Named after a traditional film exposure technique, the dodge tool is supposed to look like a little paddle thingie — you know, like one of those spoons you put over your eye at the optometrist's — that you wave over photographic paper to cast a shadow and thereby lighten the exposure. Thank golly we no longer have to wave little paddle thingies in our modern age.

♦ Burn: The burn tool lets you darken a portion of an image by dragging over it. The effect is similar to burning a film negative, which you apparently do by holding your hand in a kind of O shape in an effort to focus the light, kind of like frying a worker ant using a magnifying glass (except not quite so smelly). At least, that's what they tell me. Sadly, I've never had the pleasure of trying it.

Blur Sharpen Smudge Dodge Burn Sponge

Blur Sharpen Smudge Dodge Burn Sponge

Figure 5-4: Dragging with Photoshop's edit tools creates these effects. The boundaries of each line are highlighted so that you can clearly see the distinctions between line and background.

Tip If you're like most folks, you have difficulty remembering which tool lightens and which one darkens. So here's a little tip: That little hand icon looks like it could be holding a piece of toast, and when you burn toast, it gets darker. Hand, toast, burn, darker. That other tool, the eye doctor paddle, is not holding toast, so it must lighten. You'll never have problems again.

* Sponge: The final toning tool, the sponge tool, robs an image of both saturation and contrast. Or you can set the tool so it boosts saturation and adds contrast. For more information, stay tuned for the upcoming section "Mopping up with the sponge tool."

To access the sharpen tool temporarily when the blur tool is selected, press and hold Alt while using the tool. The sharpen tool remains available only as long as you press Alt. You also can press Alt to access the blur tool when the sharpen tool is selected, to access the burn tool when the dodge tool is selected, and to access the dodge tool when the burn tool is selected. (If the sponge tool is active, pressing Alt has no effect, except maybe to give your finger a cramp.)

Tip You can replace the blur tool with the sharpen tool in the toolbox by Alt clicking on the tool's icon. Alt click again to select the smudge tool and yet again to cycle back to the blur tool. Likewise, you can Alt click the dodge tool icon to cycle between the dodge, burn, and sponge tools.

As explained in Chapter 2, the keyboard shortcuts also toggle between the tools. When the blur tool is selected, press R to switch to the sharpen tool. Repeated pressings of R take you to the smudge tool and back to the blur tool. When the dodge tool is selected, press O to toggle to the burn tool; press O again to get the sponge.

Ij-1 If these shortcuts don't work for you, head for the General panel of the Preferences dialog box (Ctrl+K). Chances are, the Use Shift for Tool Switch check box is selected, which means that you have to press Shift plus the keyboard shortcut to cycle through tools. Turn the check box off to give your Shift finger a rest.

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