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Photoshop CS6 Tutorial: Manipulating Images with Photoshop Tools

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The Smudge Tool

When you select the “Smudge Tool” from the Toolbox and click and drag it in your image, the effect produced is similar to the effect of dragging your finger through wet paint. The tool picks up the color of the place at which you click and then pushes that color through the rest of the stroke as you drag the mouse.

To use this, first select the “Smudge Tool” from the Toolbox. In the Options Bar, set the brush stoke and other brush options, as desired. You can then select a blending mode and strength from the drop-down and slider available. You can check the “Sample All Layers” (called “All Layers” in CS and previous versions) checkbox to select using the combined color value from all layers. If unchecked it will only smudge the color from the currently visible layer. You can check the “Finger Painting” checkbox to smudge using the selected foreground color at the beginning of each stroke. If this is deselected, the tool will instead use the color under the pointer at the beginning of the stroke. After setting your options, all you must do is then click and drag in the image to smudge the paint where you click and drag.

 

Blurring and Sharpening Images

You can select the “Blur Tool” to soften hard edges or reduce fine detail in an image. Contrary to that, the “Sharpen Tool” increases edge clarity and detail visibility in an image. To use these tools, select the one that you want from the Toolbox (they share a space with the Smudge Tool). Then set the brush options, as desired, in the Options Bar. You can then select a blending mode and strength from the drop-down and slider available. You can check the “Sample All Layers” checkbox (called “All Layers” in CS and previous versions) to blur or sharpen the pixel data using the combined data from all layers. Otherwise it will only use data from the currently selected layer. After setting your options, click and drag over the area in the image which you want to blur or sharpen.

 

Using the Dodge Tool and the Burn Tool

You can use the “Dodge Tool” and the “Burn Tool” to produce tonal adjustments in an image. You use the “Dodge Tool” to lighten an area in the image, and you can use the “Burn Tool” to darken an image area.

To use these tools, first select the tool that you want to use from the Toolbox. In the Options Bar, set your brush options and then use the “Range:” drop-down to select what to change in the image: “Midtones,” to change the middle range of grays; “Shadows,” to change the dark areas; or “Highlights” to change the light areas. Then use the “Exposure:” slider to set the intensity of the effect. You can also click to “Protect Tones” from unwanted changes.  Then, click and drag over the part of the image that you want to modify.

 

Using the Sponge Tool

You use the “Sponge Tool” to make subtle changes to the color saturation of an area. To use the Sponge Tool, select that button from the Toolbox. In the Options Bar, set your brush options and use the “Mode:” drop-down to select either “Desaturate,” which reduces the color saturation or “Saturate,” which increases color saturation.  Then use the “Flow:” slider to set the strength of the selected effect. Selecting the “Vibrance” checkbox reduces the clipping in fully saturated or desaturated colors.  At that point, you can click and drag in the selected layer to increase or decrease the saturation of the color.

 

 

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