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Adobe Photoshop Basics
Lesson 7a: Painting Tools- Intro & Paint Bucket

It's time to get to know Photoshop's painting and erasing tools. While Photoshop isn't a natural media painting tool like Painter, the painting tools are still an integral part of just about anything you do in Photoshop. In addition to painting with color, they can be used to make selections, create transparency, and much more. The tools we'll be discussing in this lesson include the pencil, line, paintbrush, airbrush, eraser, paint bucket, and gradient tools. We'll also be discussing the Edit > Fill command and pattern fills. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so let's get started. (Continued below...)

Adobe Photoshop Basics
Read This First!
Course Outline
• Painting Intro, Bucket, Fill
Gradient, Pattern, Line
Brushes, Fade Command
Pencil, Paintbrush, Airbrush
Eraser Tools
• Ex: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Interactive Classroom
Visit the forum to post your questions and comments.
-Get Help with Lesson 7

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Painting in Photoshop generally involves picking a tool, picking a brush, setting options and painting. Since picking your tool is the first step, it's important to understand the differences between them.

The Paint Bucket
The Paint Bucket is the simplest of the painting tools. It used to fill areas with solid color or patterns. The paint bucket tool works much like the magic wand selection tool in that it fills with color based on color similarity as determined by the tolerance setting you choose in the tool settings. In Photoshop 5.x, the shortcut key for the paint bucket is K. In Photoshop 6, this tool shares a toolbox space with the gradient tool and the shortcut key was changed to G. Shift-G switches between the paint bucket and the gradient tool in Photoshop 6.

Take a look at the Paint Bucket options now by double clicking on its toolbox button, or in Photoshop 6, by selecting the tool. Notice that the paint bucket has a blending mode menu and opacity control, just like the layers palette. These allow you to change the way the paint blends with the pixels you are painting on the same layer. This is somewhat different from the layer blend modes because the layer blend modes change how the pixels blend with all underlying layers, and the paint blend modes change how the pixels blend with existing pixels in the same layer. We'll explore the blending modes a little later when we get to the practice exercises. I also want to point out that there are two extra blend modes that are only available with some of the painting tools: behind and clear.

  • Painting in behind mode gives results similar to what you would get if you painted on a layer below another layer, but instead your paint is applied to the same layer. Where the existing pixels are not completely opaque, your new paint will mingle with it; where it is fully transparent, the new paint will show through; and where it is fully opaque, the new paint will not appear at all. You can try this by scribbling some paint on a layer, then filling that layer in behind mode with the paint bucket.
  • Clear is only available on layers other than the background. It allows you to use the Paint Bucket or Line tool to erase pixels to transparency.

The tolerance setting in the paint bucket options works just like the tolerance setting of the magic wand and allows you to control the similarity of the color that is replaced when you click with the Paint Bucket.

Anti-alias smoothes the edges of the fill color slightly.

The contents menu (Photoshop 5.x) or source menu (Photoshop 6) lets you choose between the foreground color and a pattern fill. In Photoshop 5.x, the pattern option will be unavailable until you define a pattern. In Photoshop 6, when pattern is selected, the available patterns will appear as a menu on the options bar. We'll talk more about pattern fills later.

The Use All Layers checkbox allows you to fill a layer other than the one you are sampling.

The Contiguous option (in Photoshop 5.5 and later only) controls whether the fill is applied to adjacent areas only. When unchecked, the fill will be applied to all areas in the image that match the tolerance setting. When checked, it only fills adjacent pixels that match the tolerance setting.

Fill Command
More than likely, you will find yourself using the paint bucket very little, so I don't want to spend a lot of time on it. I tend to use the Edit > Fill command and the foreground/background fill shortcut keys more often. With the Fill command you can choose from the foreground or background color, a pattern, the active history state, black, 50% gray, and white. You also have opacity controls and the same blend mode options.

Continue on to the next page to learn about Gradient and Pattern Fills.

Next > Gradient & Pattern Fills

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