Which Tools to Use

Here I will deal with the basic palettes and tools you should use when setting up Photoshop. Don't worry if you have never used these before. We'll show you where to find them and what to do with them. 

Panels and palettes
Correction tools


The illustrations used on this page are from Photoshop 10 (CS3), but they are basically the same from Photoshop 8 (CS1) onwards. It will be assumed that you are working with at least Photoshop CS1, and that you will have a basic familiarity with opening, closing and saving images.  This digital imaging training course will deal with basic colour correction and will start from the beginning.

NOTE:  The palettes and tools dealt with below are not intended to be the definitive options that can be used, but just those that will be used in the digital imaging training course.

Panels and palettes

Like most software, Photoshop has far more functions than you are ever likely to use, so it will help to close all the panels that are not necessary for the digital imaging course.

First, if you have a set of palettes open that you like to work with, then save the layout. This is done by selecting Window > Workspace > Save Workspace on the menu bar.  Save the Workspace with a name that is relevant to what the palette layout is used for.

FIGURE 1 This is the basic set of palettes that we will be doing most of the work with.

By clicking on the small 'X' in the top right hand corner of each palette, you can close each individually. Close all the palettes so that you end up with an empty Photoshop window. Next, from the Window menu bar, tick the following palettes to open them:






You should now have the palettes open, as seen above, but the order and arrangement is not important.

FIGURE 2  As you can see, you can select the thumbnail size you would like to view.

Next, some of the options in the palettes will need to be changed. 

  • In the top right hand corner of each palette, under the 'X', is a small three-line symbol with an even smaller down arrow next to it. Click on the three-line symbol on the Layers palette to open the Layers options, and select 'Palette Options' at the bottom of the list. Select the largest Layer Thumbnail size (see above). 
  • Now do the same for the Channels palette.
  • In the Colour palette options select the 'RGB Sliders' from the list.
  • In the Histogram palette options select the 'All Channels View' and the 'Show Channels in Colour' from the list. Also untick the 'Show Statistics' option as this will not be useful for what we will be working with.


FIGURE 3 You will only be able to see the Histogram, as shown above, when there is an image open.

Finally, arrange the palettes over to the right hand side of the Photoshop window. Each version of Photoshop has slightly different ways of arranging palettes, but the main aim is to leave as much room as possible in the Photoshop window for the images.

Now save the palettes layout via the Window > Workspace > Save Workspace on the menu bar, and give it a useful name such as 'shutha'.  You can save as many of these layout Workspaces as you wish.  When you want to ue one, just go to the Window > Workspace on the menu bar, and select the named Workspace from the bottom of the list.

NOTE:  The saved Workspace will not only remember the layout of the palettes, but also the palette options you have selected, as well as the position of the Toolbar.

After you have started the work later on in the digital imaging training course, you will quite likely want to rearrange the palettes and even add one or two others. When you have made the changes, then save the Workspace again, and overwrite with the same name. Try not to have too many palettes open though as we will need as mach space as possible for the images. What is shown above is the basic set of palettes that we will be doing most of the work with.

What these palettes are for, and how to use them will be described as we start. Basically they are there to feed us information about the images, rather than doing the work, although there are exceptions. They may look a little technical, but think of them like the dashboard on a car. That too is technical as it gives information about fuel, oil and speed of the car, all of which is vital for getting to where we want to go. These palettes will provide us with similar information about the images.

Correction tools

There are only a handful of tools that we will be working with to correct the images, although one or two others will be mentioned later on.


FIGURE 4  Here we see the options for the Levels tool.


FIGURE 5  Here we see the options for the Curves tool.

Hue and Saturation

FIGURE 6 Here we see the options for the Hue and Saturation tool.

Do not worry if you have never used any of these tools before as they will be fully explained as they are introduced.