Photoshop CS6 Eyedropper Tool: Lift or Sample Color - dummies

Photoshop CS6 Eyedropper Tool: Lift or Sample Color

By Barbara Obermeier

The Photoshop CS 6 Eyedropper tool enables you to change foreground or background colors by lifting them from the image. Using the Eyedropper tool comes in handy when you want to sample an existing color in an image for use in another element.

For example, if you want your text to be the same color as the flower in your image, click a petal with your Eyedropper tool, which then lifts (samples) the color and makes it the new foreground color. Then create your type, which uses that foreground color. Voilà — color coordination at its finest.

To use the Eyedropper tool, you first need to decide whether you want to change the foreground or background color. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Select the foreground (or the background) in the Tools panel or the Color panel.

  2. Select the Eyedropper tool in the Tools panel (or press the I key).

    Fortunately, the Eyedropper looks exactly like a real eyedropper.

  3. Click the color in your image that you want to use.

    That color becomes your new foreground (or background) color.

Here are some handy tips for using the Eyedropper tool to suck up color from one place and use it elsewhere in your image:

  • Select any color you want from any image that’s open. If you have multiple images open, you can click inside an image you’re not working on. You can lift any color you see, even from a file in another application or your desktop. Just click and drag your Eyedropper from the image window onto the color you want to sample. Be sure that you can see both application windows.

  • Select your sampling area. You have only two options (on the Options bar) to worry about when using the Eyedropper tool. You can select the color of just the single pixel you click (Point Sample). Or Photoshop averages the colors of the pixels in a 3-x-3-, 5-x-5-, 11-x-11-, 31-x-31-, 51-x-51-, or 101-x-101-pixel radius. You can also choose to sample from just your currently active layer or all your layers.

  • Make colors web ready with a right-click of your mouse button. For you webbies out there, if you right-click (Control-click on the Mac) your image to bring up the context menu, you have one more option — Copy Color as HTML.

    This option converts the sampled color to a hexadecimal color code and copies the code to the Clipboard so that you can paste the code into an HTML file. You can also use the Copy Color’s Hex Code to eliminate the “=””part of the tag for users of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

  • Toggle between the Eyedropper and other tools. For your productive painting pleasure, when you’re using the Brush, Pencil, Color Replacement, Gradient, Paint Bucket, or Shape tool, holding down Alt (Option on the Mac) allows you to temporarily access the Eyedropper tool. Release the key to return to your original tool.

  • Toggle between the background and the foreground. If the foreground color swatch is active, Alt-click (Option-click on the Mac) with the Eyedropper tool to lift a new background color. If the background color swatch is active, Alt-clicking (Option-clicking on the Mac) lifts a new foreground color.