May 03, 2010

Color-picking improvements in Photoshop CS5

In Photoshop CS4, we added the ability to click & drag in order to resize one’s brush, and to change brush hardness in a similar manner (using a separate keyboard shortcut). Artists told us they wanted to perform these operations in quick succession, without having to use separate commands.

Therefore in CS5 you can change both brush size and brush hardness via a single shortcut: on Mac, Control+Option click, and on Windows, Alt+right click, then drag left/right to change brush size and up/down to change hardness. We built in little “dead zones” between up/down and left/right to reduce the chance that you’d inadvertently change both parameters when you’re trying to change just one.

Moving to a single shortcut had the side benefit of freeing up the shortcuts that were previously used to control brush hardness. Now you can invoke the new HUD (Heads-Up Display) color picker* by holding Command Control Option (Mac)/Alt Shift Right Click (Windows) when clicking.

We also gave the eyedropper tool a color selection ring that shows one’s previous foreground color as well as the one being clicked. Because human color perception is notoriously susceptible to influence by surrounding colors (see this little demo if you need convincing), we included a gray ring around the previous/sampled colors. If for whatever reason you don’t like the ring, you can select the eyedropper tool, then uncheck the “Show Sampling Ring” on the Options Bar.

One other tweak: You can now launch the color picker using a keyboard shortcut. To set this up, start by choosing Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts. Under the Shortcuts for “Tools,” scroll the to the bottom to locate “Foreground Color Picker,” and then type the letter you prefer.

[Screenshot of the ring courtesy of digital painter John Derry's blog.]

*Detail: If you want to switch Hue without changing the Saturation/Value, you can hold down the space bar to stop the color sampler from moving. (I call up the HUD, then release the shortcut keys, which frees up my hand to select the space bar.) Once you move over the Hue strip or ring you can release the space bar and adjust the hue. It’s complicated to describe but rather simple to use.

Posted by John Nack at 3:07 PM on May 03, 2010
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