Learning Photoshop Basics – Tool Panel first five tools


Photographer, designers, artists and hobbyists all enjoy using Adobe Photoshop for its rich uses for editing photos. In this tutorial, I will be sharing with you the basics of Adobe Photoshop so that you can start creating your masterpieces. We will be taking a look at the toolbars and going over most everything that holds. We will not be going over all of the tools, but we will go over the most used ones.

The Tool Panel

We will start with the Tool Panel in Adobe Photoshop to learn Photoshop Basics. Let’s get started with the User Interface or UI.

uiThis is a picture of your User Interface. On the left is located your Tool Panel. This is where you will find your tools for editing and creating images. Similar tools are organized and grouped together. To access more tools, click and hold on the tool with a little arrow in the bottom right corner of the tool. That will bring up more tools.

In this tutorial we will start to learn Photoshop basics with the first five tools on the Tool Panel.

Move Tool

move tool At the top of your tool panel is the Move Tool. Click on this to move a selection around and resize it. The little arrown in the bottom right corner is where you will click and hold it to find your grouped tool. This is where you will also find your Artboard tool.

The Artboard tool defines the canvas areas and expands the canvas as it’s moved. It behaves like a layer group and gives a rectangular boundary to your canvas. Any layers that you add to the artboard workspace are clipped by the boundary of the artboard.

You can quickly access this tool by pressing V on your keyboard.

Rectangular Marquee Tool

Here we have the Rectangular Marquee Tool. This is where you will make a quick selection of a rectangular form on your canvas. To use it you will click and drag the tool and then release it when you have made your selection. To select from the center outward hold down the Alt (or Option on a Mac) after you start dragging. Once you have the desired selection, go ahead and release the mouse button and the Alt key. To keep it a perfect square, hold down the Shift key while you make your selection. To quickly select this tool press the M key.

When you press the bottom right arrow in this tool, you will also get the selections of the Elliptical and Single Column Marquee tools. Your Elliptical Marquee Tool is a rounded tool. To keep it a perfect circle, hold down the Shift key while you make your selection.

The Single Column Marquee Tool is one pixel wide and as many pixels as you want for the row.

Lasso Tool

The next tool we will discuss is the Lasso Tool. This is a quick selection tool looks like a rope – a lasso that cowboys use. To use this tool, click on the outside of what you want to select by tracing it. Hold down your mouse button until you have traced all the way around the selection and then release your mouse button. This tool allows you to rely solely on your own abilities to outline and trace to make the selections perfect.

Grouped in with this tool you will find the Magnetic Lasso Tool and the Polygonal Lasso Tool.

The Magnetic Lasso tool is a little more on the lazy side, but makes selections soooo much quicker! This tool is an Edge Detection Tool. It actively seeks out the edges of your object as you move around it. It will then snap to the edge and, like a magnet, cling to your selection. Voila! Magnetic Lasso Tool!

The Polygonal Lasso Tool allows you to select along individual short paths until you get your object(s) selected.

To select these tools, press the L key. To scroll through the tools, press Shift + L until you get to your desired tool.

Quick Selection Tool

quick selection tool The Quick Selection Tool selects pixels based on tone and color. It will also seek out similar textures in an object, making the selections much quicker. You can select pixels simply by painting over them.

To select this tool, simply click W. To scroll to the other tool, press Shift + W.

The other tool in this group is the Magic Wand Tool. This tool is much like the Quick Selection Tool, but rather than making a selection according to the three bases, it makes its selection only through tone and color.

Crop Tool

crop tool The crop tool is a tool which allows you to select an area of an image and discard everything else outside of your selection. Please do not confuse this for resizing and image. It will only reduce the dimensions of an image. Resizing an image allows you to reduce or enlarge an entire image.

The other tools grouped with it are the Perspective Crop Tool, the Slice Selection Tool and the Slice Tool. You can select these tools with the C key. And scroll through them by pressing Shift + C.

The Perspective Crop Tool is a tool which can be used to keep perspective properly as you crop an image. It allows you to isolate different planes within an image and crop it to the correct distortions caused by perspective.

With the Slice Selection Tool and the Slice Tool you can slice selections and divide them into smaller selections. The Slice Tool slices the selection and with the Selection Tool you can move the selections around and modify those selections.

Learning Photoshop Basics – the first five tools in the Tools Panel

Well, there you have it folks! That is a quick runthrough of learning Photoshop basics for the first few tools on the Tools Panel. These are your selection tools. I hope that helped you out with starting up in Photoshop. Now that you’ve learned some of the basics of Photoshop, get out there and try these tools out! See how they work for you and your creativity!

Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Have fun creating!



  1. Wow, such a great guide for beginners like me! I’ve always wanted to get into doing photo shopping tricks but had no idea where to start. You’ve outlined everything I was looking for so I thank you for that. Now as you say, get out there and try them out and that’s what I intent to do! Thanks again 😀

    • I’m so glad to hear that! I am so glad I could be helpful! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me 🙂

  2. Greetings Kelly’O,

    Thank you for the intro. There really is a lot just in the first 5 tools. Now I have no excuse to not to go further in.

    I’m glad you mentioned the difference between the “cropping” tool and the “resizing’ tool. many folks do not understand that basic difference. While it may seem logical, I think that once the cropping is completed and the cropped imagine resets, people see it as having enlarged, when really all it has done is zoomed. Good call!!!

    Enjoy the Day and keep up the great work!!!

  3. I had no idea that the cropping tool did anything more than to crop. Thank you so much for your very detailed explanations. I now feel that I can go have a stare-down with my Photoshop an’ enter the realm of creative possibility without risk of bein’ defeated, again… an’ bein’ thrown out on my ear… again.

    I’ll be back soon for my next lesson. I really love your classroom an’ your teaching style. I can hardly wait for the training to continue!

    ~ Yaya

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