Adobe Photoshop: Working with Images


Zooming and Panning Images

The Zoom feature allows you to essentially get a closer look and magnify your image without resizing it. It's like looking at your image through a microscope. When you zoom in, you can better see changes that you've made.

The two snapshots below show an image before and after we zoomed in.



To zoom in an image, you'll use the Zoom Tool in the bottom section of the Toolbox. It looks like this: . Click on the Zoom Tool, then click on your image. You can also go to View>Zoom In. You'll see a magnifying glass with a (+) inside it. Each time you click on the image, the Zoom Tool will magnify it by 100%.

It's important to remember that using zoom does not resize the image.

Panning an Image

Panning an image is different than zooming in on an image. Panning an image means moving the image to get a better look at different aspects. This is especially helpful with large image files.

To pan an image, click on the Hand Tool in the bottom section of the Toolbox. Drag your mouse to pan over the image. If you're using another tool, but need to pan the image while you use it, press and hold down the spacebar as you drag your mouse.

Rulers, Guides, and Grids

When working with Photoshop, there may be times when you need to align graphics, measure certain aspects of an image file, or insert text in line with a graphic. Although you could do these things by just using the appropriate tool, it's much easier to create professional images and graphics when you use the rulers, guides, and grids that Photoshop CS6 provides. These features make it easy to align aspects of a web page, for example, or add text that is perfectly in line with a graphic.

We're going to learn about each one of the features individually. You'll find that they're very simple to use and make working with Photoshop even easier.


Rulers appear along the top and left sides of the document window or where your image appears. To use the rulers, go to View>Rulers.

They look like this:

These rulers will help you scale images, position graphics, and position selections. They will be especially useful when you're putting text with a photo (such as with a greeting card) and want to make sure that you perfectly align the text with the image. They can also be helpful when you're going to place two images in one document (such as with a web page). Use the rulers to place the images at the same vertical or horizontal alignment. For example, both might line up to the 2 inch line on the vertical (up/down) ruler.

The ruler units start at zero and go up from left to right, then from top to bottom at the point where the two rulers intersect. To measure an image or any area in the image, you have to move the zero point to the area where you want to measure. In the example below, we want to measure the dandelion.

To move the zero point, first place your pointer over the crosshairs in the upper left corner of where the rulers intersect. They look like this:

Drag the zero point to where you want the new zero point to begin. A line will appear across the image to help you set the point exactly where you want it.

Release to set the new zero point.

To change the units of measure or other preferences, go to Edit>Preferences>Units and Rulers.

We could use this measurement to determine the size of additional graphics, the text, or use it for placement and/or alignment.


Guides are a lot like rulers. The big difference is that you don't use them to measure. Instead, you use them to align different aspects of your image such as text, layers, etc.

To use guides, go to View>Show>Guides.

You'll see the vertical guide on the left side of your document area, or the area where the image appears. It's a light teal line that looks like this:

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You can click on the line, then drag and drop it over your image.

In the snapshot above, you can see the vertical guide. A guide is useful when placing a couple rows of text. You can use the guide to make sure it's in perfect alignment.

To create a horizontal guide, drag and drop from the horizontal ruler.

You could use the intersections of the horizontal and vertical guides to place graphics as well. Let's say, for example, that you wanted to place text that begins directly over the dandelion. The guides would help you accomplish this.

To remove a guide, simply drag it off the image or go to View>Show>Guides and remove the checkmark beside the option.


Grids are non-printable, which means that you can use a grid, leave it in your image, but when you print or save the image, it won't appear to anyone who views it outside of Photoshop. It appears as an overlay. You use a grid to position items or to keep symmetry in your design.

To use the grid, go to View>Show>Grid.

Below is a snapshot of a grid on an image.

To change the measurements used in the grid or other preferences, go to Edit> Preferences> Grid.

You can now use the grid to add aspects to the image, place another image or graphic, or whatever you need to do to the image while keeping the symmetry and design. In the image above, you might add raindrops. Using the grid, you could keep the drops equally spaced in the image.

Undoing Steps with History

Any edits or changes you make to an image or graphic can be easily undone in Photoshop CS6. There are two ways that you can accomplish this.

The first way is to go to Edit>Step Backward. By selecting this, Photoshop will undo the most recent action that you took. For example, if the last thing you did was change the color of an image, Photoshop will undo the changes you made. You can click Step Backward as many times as you want and Photoshop will undo all the steps that you've taken to edit or modify the graphic or image.

However, let's say that the last five steps you did, the first being the most recent, were:


  • Change color
  • Change image size
  • Create a layer
  • Crop image

    You may want to keep the color changes and even keep the new image size, but you may want to get rid of the new layer and the cropped version. If you simply use Step Backward for this, you will have to first undo the color and image size. This just means that you'll have to redo it later. That can be a hassle!

    Instead, you can use the History panel to undo any changes made to the image.

    To view the History panel, go to Window>History.

    In the History panel, you can view all states of your image. Every change you've made to your image created a new state. In the snapshot above, "Image Size" is a state.

    Simply click the state that you want to delete so that it's selected, as shown below.

    Then, click the little trash can in the lower right hand corner. A dialogue box will appear asking you if you are sure you want to delete the state. If it's the correct state, click Yes.

    Adjusting Color with the Adjustment panel

    The Adjustment panel makes it easy for you to adjust color in your images.

    The Adjustment panel is open by default in the Panel Dock. It looks like this:

    You can click on an adjustment icon to adjust color. If you hover your mouse above an icon, it will tell you exactly what that icon does.

    As you can see below, the first icon adjusts Brightness and Contrast.

    When you click the icon, a Properties panel appears to the left of the Panel Dock. In it, we see sliders that allow us to adjust the Brightness and Contrast. Simply press and hold your mouse over the slider and drag it to the position you want.

    Now, you can adjust the brightness and contrast.

    Let's use Brightness/Contrast as an example. We'll apply it to the image below.

    We now adjust the sliders in the Brightness/Contract Properties panel.

    Our image now looks like this:

    Other options for the Properties panel are:

  • Toggle the visibility of the adjustment by clicking
  • To return to an original adjustment setting, click
  • To delete an adjustment, click .

    To close the Properties panel, click at the top right of the panel.

    Take time to learn the different adjustments you can make to an image's color in the Adjustments panel. Experiment and see how they affect your images.

    The Note Tool

    The Note tool allows you to add notes to your image. You can add as many notes as you want. Each note is marked by a note icon .

    To add a note, go to the Toolbox. The Note tool is grouped with the Eyedropper tool in the selection section of the Toolbox.

    Right click the downward arrow and select Note Tool .

    To add a note, click on the area in the image where you want to add the note, then write your note in the text box that appears (shown below).

    The note icons will appear in your image wherever you place notes.

    These notes do not appear when you save or print the image.