Q: “What is the photoshop interface all about?”

So you open up the photoshop interface, then you ask, “What is this all about?“. Here’s the answer in video text and easy-to-follow diagrams.

1 The Welcome Screen
2 The Menu Bar
3 The Options Bar
4 The Toolbar
5 The Palettes
6 The Document Window
7 The Active Image Area

1 The Welcome Screen

1 The welcome screen is useless. Make sure you leave the “Show dialog box” at startup” deselected. When we open photoshop we want to get straight to work. If you are insane you can always re-enable the welcome screen by going to Help > Welcome Screen and checking the checkbox “show this dialog at startup” – but you are not insane, so let’s continue.

2 The Menu Bar

1 The menu bar is organized into specific categories of tasks.

3 The Options Bar

1 The option’s bar contains options for the specific tool we have selected in the toolbar.

4 The Toolbar

Contains the tools we can use in photoshop and additional features including foreground and background, and viewing modes:

1 Selection, Crop and Slice tools.
2 Retouch Tools
3 Vector drawing and Paint tools
4 Annotation and Measurements
5 Foreground and Background
6 Standard/QuickMask mode
7 Screen view modes
8 Edit in imageready.

5 Palettes

1 The palettes allow us to modify and monitor what we are working on.
1 If you by mistake or due to an unknown reason are missing some of the basic palettes (like the layers, navigator, color or the history palette) from view in photoshop, go to Window > Workspace > Default Workspace – this reverts to the default enviroment with all of the basic palettes enabled.

The Navigator Palette

Used for navigating large images or navigating images when zoomed in.

1 This slider allows us to zoom in and out of the active image we are working on.
2 By placing the cursor within this window we can use the red rectangle to navigate to specific area’s of our image.
3 Displays current zoom level – this should be set to “100%” unless we need to be zoomed in or are working on an extremely large or small image.

The Color Palette

Allows us to select foreground and background colors. While we can also do this within the toolbar this palette offer’s greater options.

1 The current foreground color.
2 The current background color.
3 The solid black border around the background square signifies that it is selected so if we change the sliders (to the right of the background box) the background color will change.
4 By clicking this box we can change the sliders. Currently they pertain to the RGB color system but if we wanted we could change the sliders to CMYK or even web colors if we are working on work destined for the internet.
5 Displays the “red” value for the current selected color.
6 Displays the “green” value for the current selected color.
7 Displays the “blue” value for the current selected color.
8 Color ramp that allows us to quickly select a color.

The History Palette

Allows us to reverse changes we have made to our image. It contains a list that is constantly updated of changes made inside the document.

1 List of changes made within the document.
2 “Create new document from the current state” button – allows us to duplicate our entire image into a new image.
3 “Create new snapshot” button – saves the current state of a document.
4 “Delete current state” – deletes current state of a document.

The Layers Palette

Allow you to work on a single canvas.
Allowing some things to appear above and below others.

1 List of layers.
2 Blending modes drop down menu.
3 Opacity of the selected layer (in this example the selected layer is our type layer called “Hello. How are you?” signified by the darker background).
4 Various locks for the selected layer. (From left to right). “Lock transparent pixels”, “Lock image pixels”, “lock position”, “lock all”.
5 “Link layers” button.
6 “Add a layer style” button.
7 “Add a vector mask”.
8 “Create new fill or adjustment layer”
9 “Create new group”
10 “Create new layer”
11 “Delete layer”
12 The lock icon signifies that the layer is locked – this means we can’t edit it – we can’t add blending options, we can’t change it’s color etc … To unlock a layer double click on it.
13 The eye icon signifies the visibility of each layer – if it is visible the layer is visible, if it’s not the layer is invisible.
14 The fill level for the color in the selected layer.

6 Where The Magic Happens! – The document window and the active image area

1 The Document Window: The window that contains the image we are working on. A good way for me to articulate this for you is this – imagine this is the wood that contains our paper that we are going to paint on …
2 The Active Image Area: This is where you are going to be working in. If you were working offline as an artist you would paint on paper – consider the “active image area” your paper.
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