Adobe Photoshop Tutorial Part 2: Working with Colors and Painting

Coloring with the Paint Bucket Tool

The Paint Bucket tool fills areas of an image with color. The fill area can be defined by closed lines or selection areas made with one of the marquee tools. For example, we could have used the Paint Bucket tool to fill the closed areas of the eye in our image above.

As a simple demonstration, we’ll use the Paint Bucket tool to fill in a coloring page:

  1. Just as we did with our earlier image, we added a new, transparent layer over our background layer containing the coloring page:

  1. On the toolbox, click the Paint Bucket tool.
  2. The Options bar displays the options for the Paint Bucket tool:

a. There are two choices for Fill: Foreground and Pattern. Foreground fills an area using the foreground color, while Pattern fills an area with a selected pattern. When you choose Pattern, the Pattern menu on the Options bar is enabled, allowing you to select a pattern.

Like the Brushes and Swatches palettes, the Pattern menu is loaded with presets, which you can change out using the options menu:

Note that you can also save your own custom patterns.

We’re just going to use solid colors for practice, so select Foreground for the fill.

b. The Mode menu contains many of the same options as it does for the Brush and Pencil tools. The Clear mode erases an area using the Paint Bucket tool, and can be used to erase backgrounds. We’re going to use Normal mode for all our filling.

c. As with the Brush and Pencil tools, opacity defines the opacity of the color you use to fill an area. We’re going to leave opacity for all our colors at 100%.

d. Tolerance affects the precision of the Paint Bucket tool—how the tool detects border areas, where it stops painting. Tolerance is based on the brightness values of the pixels where you click, and a higher tolerance generally results in a larger fill area, since more pixels in the area will be ignored. Since our image has fairly sharp borders, we’re going to leave the value set to the default.

e. The Antialiased check box, when selected, softens the border of the fill area. We’re going to uncheck this box for sharp contrast.

f. The Contiguous check box, when selected, causes the Paint Bucket tool to fill only pixels that touch other affected pixels (and that fall within the Tolerance value). When the check box is not selected, all pixels within the range of the Tolerance value are filled, regardless of where they are in the image. We’re going to leave this box checked.

g. When All Layers is selected, the Paint Bucket tool uses pixels on all layers in the image to detect the borders of the fill area. Because we want to fill areas of our transparent layer based on the outlines that appear on our background layer, we’re going to select this box.

  1. Use the Color palette or the color boxes on the toolbox to select a foreground color.
  2. Click inside a closed area of the image to fill it with the foreground color. This closed area can be defined by lines that meet, such as our anime character’s hair, or by a selection marquee you draw with one of the marquee tools:

  1. You can continue to change foreground colors using the Color palette or the color boxes on the toolbox. As you can see, the Paint Bucket tool provides a quick way to fill large areas with color, and to replace existing colors with new ones:

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