Adobe Photoshop CS5 for Photographers : The Ultimate Workshop



Eyedropper tool

The eyedropper tool can be used to sample pixel color values from any open image window and make the sampled color the new foreground color. If you hold down Option/Alt, the eyedropper tool will sample the color as a background color. You can sample colors from anywhere with the eyedropper tool. However, you must click in a Photoshop image document window first, but after that you can then drag the eyedropper tool cursor outside of the image document to sample a color from anywhere on the display, such as a desktop image or another document window. All you have to do then is to let go of the mouse to sample the chosen color.

As shown in Figure 1 below, the eyedropper sample area can be set to a Point Sample size, 3x3 Average, 5x5 Average, 11x11 Average, 31x31 Average, 51x51 Average or 101x101 Average. The Point Sample option will sample a single pixel color value only, so be warned that a point sample may not be truly representative of the color you are trying to sample, since you might quite easily be clicking on a ‘noisy’ pixel or some other pixel artifact. A 3x3 Average, 5x5 Average or larger sample area will usually provide a better indication of the color value of the pixels in the area you are clicking.

Figure 1 The eyedropper tool Options bar showing all the available sample area options.

Accessing the eyedropper tool when another tool is selected

If you are working with the brush, pencil, type, gradient, bucket tools or any shape tool that is in fill pixels mode, you can hold the Option/Alt key to temporarily access the eyedropper tool. If you click then click with the Option/Alt key held down, this will sample the selected color and make it the new foreground color. The sample size options used when you do this will be the same as those that have currently been applied to the eyedropper tool.