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The Workspace (1): Customizing Toolbars
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The Workspace (1): Customizing Toolbars
Created by: Prof

This series of tutorials is oriented toward helping those new users of PSP 9 to learn the basics of this great graphic program. The tutorials are written to introduce the basic features, tools and palettes and build upon one another. Also, the tutorials may be used as a reference for using particular tools, palettes and features of PSP.

The Workspace

"Workspace" refers to all basic features of PSP and how they are organized to enhance one's working with PSP. Often "workspace" is also used to refer to that area of the program where one works with images and photographs. However, with the various toolbars and palettes one has available how we organize them is also part of the workspace.

Purpose and Goal of this Tutorial

In this tutorial (Workspace Part 1) we will set up an initial workspace and explore the toolbars. In Part 2 we will explore more on configuring toolbars and palettes and how to organize our workspace.


The Default Workspace

Most likely, when first opening up PSP 9, the program will be full screen and will look something like the image on the left. Although working with PSP full screen in some ways makes work easier, if one uses more than one program at a time (known as multi-tasking) such as PSP and a web browser (to do tutorials, as an example), it may be more convenient to scale the visible part of PSP so one can view both programs at the same time.


Resizing the Workspace

For our lessons we are going to set up an initial workspace and then work with it to ultimately configure a basic workspace.

First, we want to resize the initial PSP window. To do so, we need to make sure that the middle button at the very top right of the PSP window is a single box. Most likely your default window button is a double box so just double click on that button to make it a single box.

Then, resize the window so it takes up about 1/4 or a bit more of your main monitor screen. (To size a window place the mouse cursor on an edge, hold down the mouse button and drag the side inward.) Finally, move the resized window to the top right corner of your monitor screen (put the mouse cursor on the top blue bar, hold down the mouse button and drag the window to where you want it).

In the illustration on the left, in addition to the PSP window (outlined in blue), there are two other programs (a browser and a text editor). The image is of my monitor screen.


Step 1: Create a "Bare Bones" Workspace

Initially we want to remove all toolbars and palettes from the PSP workspace except for the Menu Bar and the Standard Toolbar.

Remove the Toolbars

  • Go to View || Customize (use the Menu Bar, click on 'View', then click on 'Customize')
  • Click on the 'Toolbars' tab
  • Uncheck all boxes ('History', 'Layer Palette' and 'Menu Bar' remain checked by default)
  • Check the 'Standard Toolbar' box
  • Close this dialog window

Remove the Palettes

  • Go to View || Palettes (use the Menu Bar, click on 'View', then click on 'Palettes')
  • Click on each listed palette and if necessary click on it again to remove it from the workspace
  • No palettes should be showing when done

Create a new image (go to File || New). If you know how to do so make it a 200 x 200 pixel transparent raster background canvas.

Your PSP workspace should now look like the illustration on the left where only the transparent canvas, the Menu Bar and Standard Toolbar are visible.


Step 2: Create an Initial Workspace

At this point we have a very uncluttered workspace but it is not particularly useful. In the beginning when learning to use PSP you will most likely use just a couple of toolbars and palettes. So let's set up that basic workspace now. Later we will also reorganize its appearance.

The Toolbars

We will only use three toolbars: the Standard toolbar, the Tools toolbar, and the Status bar.

  • Go to View || Toolbars
  • Click on 'Standard' (already checked and shows up at top below the Menu bar)
  • Click on 'Status' (will display text in the bottom bar of the main PSP window)
  • Click on 'Tools' (will show up either at the top of the window below menu bar or down the left side of the PSP window)

The Palettes

We will only use three palettes initially: the Materials palette, the Layers palette and the Tool Options palette.

  • Go to View || Palettes
  • Click on 'Materials' (opens on the right of the PSP window)
  • Click on 'Layers' (opens on the right, below the Materials palette)
  • Click on 'Tool Options' (opens at the top, below the Standard toolbar

One could leave this arrangement as a basic workspace as these toolbars and palettes are the ones we most often use. However, to learn more about how to configure toolbars and to organize the workspace, the rest of this tutorial will describe the steps one uses to further customize one's workspace. We will then finish this tutorial by saving our customized workspace.

Note Note: All toolbars and palettes except the Menu bar can be customized and/or moved. One customizes toolbars to suit one's own working preferences. One moves and arranges toolbars and palettes to also suit one's working style. So, now let's explore how to further configure a workspace.

More about Toolbars

  • Toolbars are clusters of similar tasks represented by buttons.
  • Toolbars can be customized both with what buttons are displayed and how the toolbar is displayed.
  • Toolbars can be positioned anywhere on the PSP workspace or monitor desktop.
  • Run your mouse over a button, and a text describing the function of that button will appear (tooltip).
  • The Standard toolbar is primarily for manipulating files and images – where one opens previously saved files, creates new images, prints, undo and other similar functions.
  • The Status bar (at the bottom) will show mainly information about images (coordinates of the mouse position, size of the image, coordinates of shapes, etc.).
  • The Tools toolbar is used to create paintings (images) and work with photographs by manipulating the images/photographs in various ways.
  • To show or hide toolbars:
    • Go to View || Customize, click on the Toolbars tab and check or uncheck them.
    • Go to View || Toolbars and then click on the toolbar wanted or to be hidden.

Step 3: Customizing Toolbars

The Standard Toolbar

One may want to remove buttons from a toolbar or add other buttons, or combine buttons. Also, one may want to position the toolbar other than its default location and may want the toolbar to have a different appearance.

We are going to customize the Standard Toolbar by removing the Browse and Twain buttons and adding the File Locations button. (Run your mouse over a button to see its function.)

  • To remove a button/tool:
    • Go to View || Customize
    • Place the mouse cursor on the button to remove
    • Hold down the left mouse button and drag the button/tool off the toolbar

Remove the 'Browse' and 'Twain Acquire' buttons this way.

  • To add a button/tool:
    • Go to View || Customize
    • Click on the Commands tab. The left panel shows the Categories and the right panel shows the comamnds and tools
    • Click on the Category (for our purposes click on 'File')
    • Locate the command (button/tool) wanted (for our purposes locate 'File Locations')
    • Click on the command in the right panel and drag it to its position on the toolbar.
    • To add a separator, right-click on the toolbar and click on 'Include Separator' which will be added to the left of the highlighted button.

The Tools Toolbar

Another customizing involves combining tools. On the left I have illustrated the default Tools toolbar and a customized Tools toolbar. The customized one is the one I use and tends to combine tools that perform similar tasks. The basic technique involves using the mouse to move a tool from one location to another location.

  • To move a tool:
    • Go to View || Customize
    • Place the mouse cursor on the tool to move
    • Hold down the left mouse button and drag the tool to the location wanted (another tool)
    • Continue this technique of highlighting a tool to move and drag it to the tool you wish to combine with

For my customized toolbar, I moved the following tools:

  • the Crop, Move and Dropper tools to the Selection tools
  • the Lighten/Darken and its tools to the Smudge tool
  • the Flood Fill to the Tubes tool
  • the Text, Pen and Object Selector tools to the Symmetrical Shapes tool

Now customize a toolbar to reflect your own working interests.

In the next section, I very briefly review the tools within each of the main tool category of my customized toolbar. Feel free to use this customization or just leave yours at the default settings until you have more experience and want to set up your own customized Tools toolbar.


Overview of Customized Tools Toolbar
The Canvas Management Tools
    Pan:  Move up/down right/left
    Zoom: Make canvas larger or smaller

The Deform Tools
    Deform:     Change object shapes
    Straighten: Mainly with Photographs
    Perspective Correction (Photographs)
    Mesh Warp:  Grid deforming  sections

The Selection Tools
    Selection:  Draw/select geometric shapes
    Freehand Selection: Freehand drawing/selecting
    Magic Wand: Selecting objects
    Dropper:    Selecting colors from image
    Crop:       Crop an image to selection
    Move:       Move objects within a layer

The Drawing Tools
    Paint Brush: Paint
    Airbrush:    Spray
    Warp Brush:  Fix areas

Photo and Image Fixes
    Clone:           Duplicate areas
    Color Replacer:  Replace Colors
    Scratch Remover: Remove Scratches

Retouch Tools for Photos and Images
    Dodge:              Lighten an area
    Burn:               Darken an area
    Smudge:             Smudge areas
    Push:               Push areas around
    Soften:             Soften areas
    Sharpen:            Sharpen areas
    Emboss:             Emboss an area
    Lighten/Darken:     Lighter or Darken Areas
    Saturation Up/Down: Change saturation (color)
    Hue Up/Down:        Change Color
    Change To Target:   Color an area

Erasing Tools
    Eraser:            Erase
    Background Eraser: Erase backgrounds

Painting Areas
    Flood Fill:   Fill a whole area
    Picture Tube: Draw with tubes

Vector and Shape Tools
    Rectangle:        Draw Rectangles and Squares
    Ellipse:          Draw Circles and Ellipses
    Symmetric Shapes: Draw Symmetrical shapes
    Preset Shapes:    Draw preset shapes
    Text:             Write Text
    Pen:              Pen Drawing
    Object Selection: Select a Vector Object

Art Media Tools (New to PSP v9)
    Oil Brush:      Paint with oils
    Chalk:          Draw with chalk
    Pastel:         Draw with Pastels
    Crayon:         Draw with Crayons
    Colored Pencil: Draw with a Colored Pencil
    Palette Knife:  Paint with a knife
    Smear:          Smudge areas
    Art Eraser:     Erase areas

Reviewing Our Current Workspace

Now that we have customized the Standard and the Tools toolbars, let's explore our current workspace.

The Menu bar is at the top, below it is the Standard toolbar, below it is the Tool Options palette. Then on the left side is the Tools toolbar and on the right is the Materials palette and below it is the Layers palette. Again, this arrangement might be one you would keep but we are going to work with it for further customizing our workspace.


Palette and Toolbar Buttons

On all toolbars and palettes are buttons, though not always visible dependent upon how the toolbar or palette is arranged on the workspace. In our illustration, the Materials and Layers palette buttons are more visible and are on the top right of each palette.

The left button which looks like a pin with its tip pointing down is the 'Auto Hide' button. Click on it and the tip will point left. Then, the palette (or toolbar) will roll up when it does not have focus (when the mouse cursor is not on that palette or toolbar). Auto Hiding is a technique to reduce clutter in the workspace though some palettes and toolbars you might want visible rather than rolling up.

The Minus sign is 'Minimize' and the single-box button is 'Maximize'. One can manually roll up (minimize) a palette or toolbar and then make it visible again (maximize).

The 'X' is the 'Close Palette' or 'Close Toolbar' button, and when clicked on will do just that. To re-activate the palette or toolbar either use the keyboard shortcut key or go to View || Toolbars or to View || Palettes and select the toolbar or palette to activate again.


Step 4: Customizing the Workspace

We are now ready to begin customizing our workspace. We have spent most of our time in this lesson customizing toolbars and reviewing briefly the tools. We set up an initial workspace with three toolbars and three palettes.

In the next lesson (Workspace Part 2) we will finish customizing our workspace by learning how to move toolbars and palettes and how to configure their appearance. We will also then set up a basic workspace and you will be ready to start working with PSP.

In the meantime, continue to become familiar with the toolbars and palettes and also, become familiar with how you can use keyboard keys to open/close toolbars and palettes. Though we will talk more about keyboard keys later, many are quick ways to activate particular tools, toolbars and palettes.

Have fun.