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Foreground and Background Colors in Photoshop Elements Images

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

Foreground and background colors appear in the Tools panel of Photoshop Elements 11 as large color swatches. What you see in the two-color swatches represents the currently selected color for a foreground and the currently selected color for the background.

By default, the foreground color is black, and the background color is white. You can change the foreground and background colors by making color selections from the Color Picker or the Swatches panel or by clicking the Eyedropper tool and lifting a color from an image.

You can use colors that appear in the Foreground Color Swatch to fill type selections, shapes, and strokes, as well as when using tools to apply color. You can also use the current background color when using the Eraser tool to change background color.

A couple keyboard shortcuts are helpful when working with the foreground and background color swatches. You’ll use the following keyboard shortcuts frequently, so you might as well commit them to memory:

  • D: Press the D key, to return to the default black for the foreground color and the default white for the background color.

  • X: Press the X key, and the foreground and background colors are reversed. You might want to use this keyboard shortcut when painting black and white areas with one of the marking tools.

You can also click the two arrows adjacent to the top right of the Foreground Color Swatch to reverse colors, or click the tiny icon adjacent to the lower right of the Foreground Color Swatch to return to default colors.