Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata

The purpose of this page is to attempt to give a general idea of how each of the most basic tools in Adobe Photoshop CS2 function and what the practical applications are. Photoshop tools can be used practically to remove facial blemishes or unwanted objects in an image or to create bizarre and unreal images such as the picture of George Clooney (the happy zombie) shown below. Only the tools necessary for entry level and novice photoshopping are discussed here.

Photo obtained here

Stamping tool

The general intent of the stamp tool is for a person to copy ("clone") a piece of a source picture or pattern and paint it into a different project or different layer of the same project. When cloning a part of the picture or a different picture, the the Clone Stamp is used. When cloning a pattern into a picture, the Pattern Stamp is used. Below are examples of how to use each and what their practical applications are.

Clone Stamp

The clone stamp is the default stamping tool. This means that when you load Photoshop CS2, the clone stamp tool is in the tool box ready for use.

To use the clone stamp

1. Select a source on which to use the clone stamp. The source is the image or part of the image that will be cloned.
2. Hold down the ALT button and left-click on the area you would like to clone.
3. With the source selected, return to image that is being edited. Holding down the left mouse button will allow you to paint the source image into the current image.

An example of the clone stamp being used is below. The picture on the left was the original picture. I removed the top of the building by selecting the surrounding sky as the source and cloning it over the building.

Pattern Stamp

The pattern stamp is different from the clone stamp in the sense that instead of attempting to cover up or remove an object from an image, the stamp is used to paint with a pattern instead of a color. Some patterns are provided by Photoshop but, the user can create their own pattern to use. To create your own pattern, do the following:

1. Select the Pattern Stamp in the tool palette. If the clone stamp is visible, right-click on it and select the Pattern Stamp.
2. Click on the drop-down arrow next to the image of the current pattern in the Pattern Stamp toolbar (Outlined in the image below).

3. The drop down box will display all of the preset patterns available. On the right side of the box in the top corner will be a small triangle enclosed in a circle. Clicking this arrow will open another drop-down box.
4. The first item on this drop down box is New. Selecting this will allow you to create your own pattern.

Lasso tools

The lasso tools are primarily used for selecting a part of an image that is not perfectly square or circular. Three different types of lassos are available for use depending on the shape of the object being removed and the preference of the user.

Lasso tool

The standard lasso tool is useless for most things that require a lasso tool. Pretty much anything that needs to be removed using a lasso tool can be removed using the magnetic lasso tool. The only exception is if the object being removed is too close in color to the objects around it and the magnetic lasso tool can not latch on to it. Using the lasso tool is very simple; click and drag around the object to be removed. Anywhere you release the mouse button, the end will automatically connect to the starting point in order to make an enclosed shape.

Polygon lasso

The polygon lasso tool is great for removing an object from an image that has straight edges. With the polygon lasso, the mouse button does not need to held down. Merely click to begin and move around the shape clicking every time a new edge is reached. When finished, click the starting point again and the lasso will stop making lines and the shape will be complete.

Magnetic lasso

The magnetic lasso is quite possibly one of the most useful of all the lasso tools. The magnetic lasso places points along the edge of an object based on the contrast in color between the object and the background. The magnetic lasso is customizable in three ways: width, edge contrast and frequency.

  • Width is the amount of pixels the line will stray from the path of the mouse pointer when considering the edge of the object. This means if you move the pointer along an object that doesn't have a very distinct edge, the line made will only stray as far from the path of the pointer as is set by the width.
  • Edge contrast is an adjustable percentage of difference between the object being selected and the background. The higher edge contrast set, the more specific the lasso will be in selecting a path from the background.
  • Frequency is how often on the lasso line that points will be added. Points set the line in a particular place allowing the user to change the direction of the line without causing the entire line to move. Points can be added manually by clicking the left mouse button or removed by pressing the delete button.

Magic wand

The magic wand is a great tool for extracting objects from a picture based on their color. One function I have found most useful is to use the magic wand to remove a person from a portrait. Generally, in professional pictures, the background is one uniform color. Should you want to remove a person from their background, tools such as the background eraser could be used, but the magic wand saves time and reduces skill needed. Simply select the magic wand from the tool palette, and left-click on the background. If the background is all one color and is not the same color as any color on the person (clothes, hair etc.), the wand should select all of the background and nothing else. With the background selected there are 2 options:

  • Delete the background
  • or -
  • Remove the person

To delete the background

1. Right-click on the background after selecting it with the magic wand and select the option layer via cut.
2. Select the new background layer from the layer palette, select layer from the toolbar, then delete layer from the layer drop-down box (shown below). This will delete the background leaving only the person.

To remove the person

1. With the background selected using the magic wand, right-click on the background and select select inverse. This will target the person instead of the background.
2. Switch to the Move tool ( ) and move the person out of the image and into another one.

Crop tool

The Crop tool is only useful for resizing a picture by removing the edges of it. It only allows the user to crop the image into a square or rectangular shape. Click and drag to create a square or rectangle that will be the picture after cropping. Then move the box into the appropriate position and click the check mark in the tool bar to crop the image.

Healing brushes

The main purpose of a healing brush is to repair a damaged or unwanted portion of an image. Healing brushes can also be helpful if a object was added to an image whose hue or saturation does not perfectly match the image.

Healing brush

The healing brush is similar to the clone stamp with one twist: when painting from a sample picture, the healing brush matches the textures, lighting, transparency and shading of the image being painted on by changing the sampled image to match.

Spot healing brush


The spot healing brush is particularly useful for removing things such as facial blemishes in pictures. It does this by sampling around the retouched area. This means that you do not have to specify a sample area before retouching.

Patch tool

The patch tool works the same as the spot healing brush except the area to be repair can be selected using the "lasso style" patch tool.

Red eye tool

This is a pretty self explanatory tool and is pretty easy to use. Left-click in the red part of the eye and it turns black.

Eraser tools

The basic concept of eraser tools is very hard to grasp...they erase. I'd love to give more brilliant detail to these tools, but that's all they do.

Eraser tool

The standard eraser tool is designed to erase anything on the currently selected layer. Another handy function of the eraser tool is that the user can erase changes made by selecting a point in the history palette that they would like to erase back to.

Background eraser tool

The background eraser does exactly what you might think: it erases the background. The only redeeming quality of this seemingly bland tool is that it's smart. Instead of just plowing through any part of the background that you click on, the background eraser tool utilizes a "hot spot." The hot spot is the very center of the brush. The brush samples the color in the very center of the brush and erases that color anywhere it occurs in the brush stroke. That makes the background eraser kind of fancy but at the same time, if the parameters for the hot spot are not set up correctly, the result could be small pieces of the picture left un-erased that should have been.

Magic eraser tool

The magic eraser tool works in the same way that the magic wand works. The only difference is that instead of selecting the same color in the selected layer, it deletes the color.