A Printable Glossary of Tools and Terms for Photoshop
Action: The Actions icon is located in the panel dock. It allows users to record a set of actions (or steps) to carry out when editing an image.
Background Eraser: The background eraser tool is one of the options in the eraser tool menu. It removes colors not associated with the main image of the photo.
Blending Mode: Located in the layers palette dropdown menu, blending mode can be used to change the appearance of an image or create special effects.
Brush Tool: In the brush palette, the size, spacing, angle, hardness, and other settings can be adjusted. The brush can then be used to paint layer masks and create artwork.
Burn Tool: On Windows computers, the burn tool is accessed by pressing shift+O. The burn tool uses a brush to darken selected parts of the image.
Clone Stamp Tool: The clone stamp is located on the left toolbar. It allows users to duplicate selected areas of an image and paint them into new areas.
Curves Tool: Accessed on the toolbar, the curves tool is one of the most powerful in Photoshop. It allows users to adjust contrast, shadows, brightness, and highlights. It can also be used to adjust colors.
Color Balance: The color balance tool is found by pressing Choose Image → Adjustments → Color Balance. It alters the hue and saturation of colors in the image.
Dodge Tool: Like the burn tool, the dodge tool is accessed by pressing shift+O. Unlike the burn tool, the dodge tool brightens parts of the selected image.
Eraser Tool: PC users will right-click on the eraser menu while Mac users will hit control-click to access the eraser tool, which removes any effects used on the selected layer.
Eyedropper Tool: Hitting the letter I on the keyboard brings up the eyedropper tool, which copies the color code of a shade within the image.
Feather: This process softens edges, and is often used when combining elements into a new image. It's accessed by opening either the Lasso or Marquee menus and choosing the Tool Options Panel.
Flattening: Flattening is used to combine all existing layers into one. The action is completed by right-clicking on Layers in the layers palette.
Gradient Tool: The gradient tool can be selected by either pressing G on the keyboard or clicking the gradient icon. The Gradient tool fills in a selected area with pre-chosen colors that fade into each other.
Healing Brush Tool: Flaws in images are corrected with the healing brush tool, which obscures the flaw by matching shadows, textures, and lighting of nearby items to obscure the issue. The tool is found in the Photoshop Toolbox, which is in the menu on the left side.
History Palette: Choose Window-History to pull up a list of all recent actions and steps taken in the editing process. It helps users go back to previous steps.
Lasso Tools: The lasso tool is in the left side menu. To use, chose part of the image by drawing or using the magnetic lasso to select part of an image.
Layer: Layers can be stacked to create special effects. Each layer can be edited separately. The Layer menu is located in the toolbar.
Layer Masks: Adding layer masks is a multi-step process. Choose Select > Deselect and then in the layer panel choose either a layer or a group. Click add Layer Mask, which is in the layers panel. These layer masks apply special effects to the selected area of an image.
Levels: Levels lets users adjust the shadows, brightness, and contrast of their image. It's opened by clicking on the layer adjustment icon.
Liquify: Select Filter > Liquify to open the liquify tool, which alters the chosen area of an image by pulling and pushing the pixels. It's usually used to make objects look thinner or to push out other areas of an image.
Magic Wand Tool: The magic wand has an icon on the left side toolbar. When used, it uses colors in order to differentiate the selected area from the larger background.
Marquee Tools: Clicking on the marquee tool icon opens up the selection menu. The tools include various shapes - elliptical, columns, rows, and rectangles - that are used to choose the part of an image.
Opacity: Choose layers in the layer panel to adjust the transparency of the layer. Sometimes users want one layer to be transparent enough that other layers can be viewed beneath them.
Paint Bucket Tool: Choose the paint bucket icon in the left side menu to open up a tool that will fill a selection portion of the image with a solid color.
Patch Tool: Click on the healing brush icon to access the patch tool. Like its neighbor, it works when users chose a section of the image and then move it to another part of the image to heal a bad spot in the pictures.
PSD file: A Photoshop file format where individual layers are saved intact so they can be edited at a later time.
Selective Color: This tool allows each color to be adjusted individually and is located in the main toolbar.
Toolbox: The bar on the left side of the screen is home to all editing tools.
Unsharp Mask: Increasing the values of an image sharpens it. This tool lives under the Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask selections.
Photoshop Tool Guide: Screenshots abound in this guide produced by NYU.
Photoshop Basics: An accessible, free tutorial designed to help beginners master the basics of the program.
Intro to Photoshop: A thorough, well-produced tutorial designed to make users ready to tackle their first Photoshop project.
Photoshop 7 Lessons: Fifteen distinct lessons lead students from learning easy concepts to executing advanced tricks.
Photoshop: The Basics: The entirety of this course from Indiana University, including videos and other lessons, is available free online.
What Is Photoshop?: Learn about layers, working with types, and other Photoshop fundamentals with this quick tutorial.
Introduction to Adobe Photoshop 2021 (PDF): Users who work through this introduction will have a solid understanding of what the various tools are capable of doing within the program.
How to Resize an Image in Photoshop: Sometimes learning individual tasks requires dedicated lessons. Resizing images is a basic task that many users perform as part of the regular workflow in the program.
Adobe Photoshop Classroom in a Book (PDF): Every tool and workflow is carefully explained in this workbook.