• How to choose Foreground and Background Colors in Photoshop or PSE

    School is out and summer time is here! Our cameras get a workout this time of the year – photographing summertime activities and sights. From brightly colored beach balls to azure blue skies, golden sunsets to candy-colored Snow-cones, our photos and scrapbooks will be awash in color.

    Over the next few weeks, our tips will focus on using the Color Swatches Panel to select colors for your digital projects. Whether you want to pull colors from your photos, a website or the swatches included with your software, these Swatch Watch tips will show you how to get the most from the Color Swatches panel.

    To grab a Foreground color from a photo, get the Eyedropper tool by pressing the letter I on your keyboard. In the Options bar, select your sample size. I like to use a 3 by 3 sampling which gives me an average of the colors around the spot where I click.

    If you use the point sample, you have to be very exact and click on the pixel that contains the color you want. Using 3x3 or 5x5 takes an average of the color values surrounding the cursor.

    Click anywhere on your photo to select a color. You’ll see the Foreground color chip fill with the color you have clicked on.

    Press the Alt key (Mac: Option key) as you click to select a color for the background.

    To switch the Foreground and Background colors, press X on your keyboard and to return to black and white, press D on your keyboard.

    Choosing a color from your Color Swatches panel is even easier than that! Activate the Swatches panel by choosing Window on the Menu bar. Choose Swatches or Color Swatches or Show Swatches depending on your software.

    No matter what tool you have selected, when you move your cursor over the Color Swatches, it automatically changes to an eyedropper. Click any of the colors to select a new Foreground color. Press Ctrl (Mac: Cmd) as you click to select a Background color.

    The Foreground color is important in Photoshop and Elements because many of the tools use this color as the digital “ink.” The Paint and Pencil tools, Type tools, Shape tools and many of the Filters use the color you have selected to perform their function.