Curriculum Guide Index

SLP Curriculum Guide #14: Selection Tool, Dropper and Color Selection

The Selections Tools are used to select an area or areas of an image or photographs. The tools include Selection, Freehand, Magic Wand and Crop. I also include the Dropper and Move Tools with this set of tools. Each of these tools have their own set of options though in some cases the options may be similar between tools. Thus, exploring each tool and its options allows one to master that tool.

GUIDE #14: Dropper and Color Selection

Selecting 'Colors' one wishes to use can be done in various ways with PSP. In all the various ways one will see the 'Dropper' icon and it is the Color Cursor. Moving it with one's mouse to the color wanted and clicking on the mouse sets the color in the Materials palette. Left Clicking sets the Foreground Color and Right Clicking sets the Background Color (except when using the Picker discussed later).

When exploring the various ways to 'Select Colors', keep the Materials Palette Open. Also, have an image with various colors evident in the workspace. Then one can explore the various options for selecting colors easily.


When the Dropper Tool is selected, the Tools Option Palette only has two options. One option sets the pixel size of the area to capture for the color and the other whether or not to use just the active layer or a median of colors from all layers at the selection spot.
  1. When wanting a color from an image/photograph place the Dropper over the area and popup window displays providing a view of the color as well as its RGB values. Left Clicking sets selected color to Foreground and right clicking sets color to Background.
  2. To use the Dropper to select colors outside of the image and workspace (such as capturing a color wanted that is on the main monitor workspace) place the Dropper Cursor into either the Foreground box or Background Box in the Materials Palette and hold down the Control Key. While the Control Key is pressed down one can now move the Dropper Cursor to anyplace on the monitor screen and capture a color again by pressing the mouse button.


When the Materials Palette is first displayed there are three Tabs one can select: (1) Frame (2) Rainbow (3) Swatches. Each has its advantages.
  1. Using the Frame, their are two ways to select color:
    • Place the Dropper Cursor in the inner box on a color wanted and click (left for Foreground, right for Background). Hold down the cursor button to display a tool tip for the RGB values.
    • Around the Frame place the Cursor to Select a Color represented in the Frame. Again, holding down the cursor displays the tool tip of RBG values. To refine the Color Selected use the Sliders: Bottom Slider (Horizontal) changes the Saturation of the Color from brilliant (right) to dull (left) while the Side Slider (Vertical) changes the Brightness from Full (down) to none (up).
  2. Using the Rainbow, just place the Dropper Cursor into an area of color wanted.
  3. Using the Swatches, one will view the maint swatch colors and if any saved Swatch color by you the user will be displayed. Using the Swatches is an easy way to select specifically and frequently used colors without trying other ways to match them for other projects.


The Color Picker is selected by clicking on either the Foreground or Background box in the Materials Palette. (If you have not reviewed the Materials Palette Guide, you may want to do so now. Guide #2) There are various ways to select colors.
  1. Using the Color Wheel
    • Similar to the Rainbow (above) one can use the Dropper Cursor in the outer Ring to select the Hue (color) and the Inner box to Select the Saturation and Brightness wanted. One can also click on the circle, hold down the cursor, and drag it to area of color wanted.
    • Left Click selects the Color. Right Click will not work as the Color Picker is specific to what was originally selected.
    • Learn to view the RGB and HSL values to represent Colors.
    • Learn to view the HTML box for the HTML color value which is used on web pages.
    • Know that one can select 'Add to swatches' button to save a specific color that one will use frequently.
  2. Using the Preset Colors Box simply requires clicking on a color.
  3. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) values can be used to set very specific colors.
  4. HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) values can also be used to set very specific colors.
  5. HTML box one can set the hexadecimal number for the color wanted.
Note: For the RGB and HSL values boxes one can use the sliders to set the respective value (one will also see a horizontal box of available colors).


  1. Spend time exploring the various ways to select colors with the Dropper Tool to familiarize yourself with the various options.
  2. Though initially using the RGB and HSL and HTML values may seem difficult, as you select colors just note the values. Over time you will become more familiar with them.
  3. Experiment using the RGB and HSL sliders to set colors as well as using the Rainbow view.


  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 the Selection Tools on images and/or photographs 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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