Splash on Color with the Paint Bucket Tool - dummies

Splash on Color with the Paint Bucket Tool

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The Paint Bucket tool in Photoshop Elements 10 is a longtime occupant of the Tools panel. This tool, whose icon looks just like a bucket, behaves like a combination of the Fill command and the Magic Wand tool. It makes a selection based on similarly colored pixels and then immediately fills that selection with color or a pattern.

Just like the Magic Wand tool, this tool is the most successful when you have a limited number of colors.


To use the Paint Bucket tool, simply click inside the selection you want to fill. Before you click, however, specify your options:

  • Color. Choose between a fill of the foreground color or a pattern. If you want to use the foreground color, leave Pattern deselected.

  • Pattern. If you select Pattern, choose a preset pattern from the drop-down panel.

  • Mode. Select a blending mode to change how your fill color interacts with the color below it.

  • Opacity. Adjust the opacity to make your fill more or less transparent.

  • Tolerance. Choose a tolerance level that specifies how similar in color a pixel must be before it’s selected and then filled. The lower the value, the more similar the color must be.

  • Anti-alias. Choose this option to smooth the edges between the filled and unfilled areas.

  • Contiguous. If selected, this option selects and fills only pixels that are touching within your selection. If the option is deselected, pixels are selected and filled wherever they lie within your selection.

  • All Layers. This option selects and fills pixels within the selection in all layers that are within your tolerance level.