SLP Curriculum Guide #06 Tools Options Palette #1
Curriculum Guide Index

In this and the next series of Guides we will explore the Tools. However, before exploring any given tool, we want to explore the Tool Options Palette which allows us to set various options.


Whenever one selects a given Tool to work with, the Tool Options Palette will display the various options one is able to change. For many tools, the Tool Option Palette options are the same or similar so learning to use the Tool Options Palette will enhance one's ability to effectively use the tools. For this Guide, select the 'Paint Brush' tool.


The Tool Options Palette can be made visible either by using View || Palettes || Tool Options or with the F4 key. Since this palette will be frequently used often it is best to keep it visible. Thus, as one gains experience, one will want to find a placement for this palette that suits their interests (review the Customization of Workspace - Guide #01-01).

Exploring each and every tool option and become familiar with the effects as the option values are changed. Though in and of itself such an exploration is boring, if done one will learn some valuable ways to use a tool.

In this exercise, explore the first three or basic options one can use (a Preset, a Brush Tip, a Shape). These three options set the brush and how it will paint to the canvas.

Use a transparent canvas 300 x 300 and when done experimenting use the Undo (ctrl+z) and begin again. Vary an option, paint an effect, change the option value, paint again, etc. Compare the results and note the differences.

NOTE: Certain Tools will have a Variance option which we will not explore at this time as it is an advanced effect in using certain tools.

    • a. Locate the DEFAULT button.
    • b. Note and record the Default Values for all options.
    • c. What does the SAVE PRESETS accomplish and why use it?
    • a. Select different Tips and explore how they draw.
    • b. Note how the Brush Tips are categorized.
    • c. Note: One can download brush tips from the Internet and one will need to learn how to save them to their own computer. Check out lesson 'Tools-Brushes Brushes: #03-Importing Brushes, File Types'.
  3. SHAPE: Tools will have a default shape of either a circle or a square. If a 'Tip' has been chosen and then one clicks on a 'Shape', the brush tip will change.
These options (Size, Hardness, Step, Density, Thickness, Rotation, Opacity and Blend Mode) govern how the tool will set 'paint' to the canvas. Not all of these options are present for some tools. However for the drawing tools they are available and learning how to combine the values of these options gives one some tremendous ways to create very unique pictures. Explore these options initially with just a circle or square tip.
  • a. First, just individually change the option values for each option to gain understanding of how they change the result of the paint stroke.
  • b. Starting with a size about 50, set hardness to various values and determine how lower values affect the stroke edge.
  • c. Initially understand how the Step Option works by setting it to 1 and then setting it to a large value. Note particularly how the stroke can be changes using different step values.
  • d. How is Density different from Hardness?
  • e. What does Thickness accomplish with the Brush Tip?
  • f. When Thickness is a low value how does Rotation affect the Brush Tip?
  • g. Explore the Opacity option and note its affect on the stroke.
  • h. Blend Modes: Blend Modes are a more advanced option and will change how the paint (colors) done on one layer will combine with the paint (colors) of lower layers.


  1. When completing a tutorial or series of tutorials, and having placed them upon your web page, post in the SLP Forum your completed work using this layout:
    • a. Name or Screen Name.
    • b. Web Site URL.
    • c. Version of PSP using.
    • d. List of Tutorials completed.
  2. From exploration of using Tool Tools Option Palette and its options, post some of your results and or comments in response to the exercises.
    • a. Indicate what you did so others can duplicate.
    • b. Indicate what option values.
    • c. Add comments on your results and findings of interest.
    • d. Share your questions and comments in the SLP Forum and your graphic results in the member Gallery SLP Album as well as in the Forum.


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