Photoshop Top 40, Feature #8: The Eyedropper

Just as most of us take for granted clean water and fast food, we give little thought to the fact that Photoshop offers an eyedropper. Press the I key to get it. Then click in an image to sample a color and use it elsewhere. The tool is simple, ubiquitous (the target adjustment tool is the most recent derivation), and it’s not even an Adobe invention. When Photoshop first set the Macintosh world on fire 20 years ago (three years in advance of the PC version), all 12 of the program’s competitors offered some kind of color-dipping “dropper.”

But a couple of years later, after Photoshop proved itself the only pixel editor with a future, its eyedropper was virtually the last one standing. And just picture a world without it! Even the most run-of-the-mill JPEG image offers 16.8 million color variations. Imagine the time you would waste if you had to dial in every one of those colors numerically or select it from a science lab-style color field. And as the video shows, lifting a foreground color is merely one of the eyedropper’s many abilities.

For those of you tracking the contest, this week’s winner is ovityons, who guessed “The eyedropper tool” within 15 minutes of the contest going live. Congratulations, ovityons!

Now it’s time to guess Feature #7. Hint: You can’t save this trio of functions, but they can save you. (How’s that for a riddle?)

Given the increasing popularity of the contest, I’ll be instituting a couple of changes this time around:

  • As was the case last week, all dekeOnline members will receive an email invitation to submit an entry for the contest. Join dekeOnline now to receive a reminder and an invitation to next week’s contest!
  • Because there is no entry link on the website and you have to wait to receive the newsletter to submit an entry, it’s only fair that I even the playing field by abandoning the first-correct-guess-wins rule. Instead, I will select a winner at random from the correct entries. Bear in mind, however, that the Feature #7 contest closes at end-of-day (midnight Pacific time) Monday, March 1.

Meanwhile, this week’s sample file features two base photographs that I call Girls and Swirls. Girls is file #15824273 from Jerome Dancette; Swirls is file #2939603 from Bill Ardern. Both hail from the Fotolia image library. For an exclusive dekeOnline deal, click this link.

(For a list of all Photoshop Top 40 videos thus far, click here.)

Photoshop Top 40 is available as a downloadable podcast from iTunes. Click here to subscribe. dekePod subscribers will get the videos automatically.

Best of luck on Feature #7!

Next entry:Martini Hour 054, In Which Deke Challenges My Brain’s Ability to Retain “Personal” Metadata

Previous entry:Martini Hour 053, In Which Photoshop Turns Twenty and Martini Hour Turns One


  • Congratulations, ovityons! You came first.

    Congratulations, ovityons! I guessed it too, but must have been too slow with the answer hmmm

  • About your Book

    I really enjoyed watching feature number 8 “the eyedropper tool,” very cool. I was wondering, I have a subscription to, and I watch your one-on-one series in that setting, but is your book the same, or are there some new matterial in it? I am thinking about buying your book, because I really like the idea of having a hard copy by my side to step by step follow, but was just wondering if it is different than your presentation.

    Thank you,

    Jay Prewitt

    PS if you would like to email me I would appreciate it, because I am not sure how to get feedback from this setting.

  • The books and videos

    Are ultimately unique, stand-alone products. But they work together.

    In other words, there are lots of projects that appear in the videos but not in the books. And lots of projects that appear in the books but not in the videos. And then there are the many projects that are shared (with some differences) between the two.

    My hope is that you’ll feel altogether rewarded by owning and/or subscribing to both. I certainly work hard to make sure that’s the case.

  • Video vs Color Profiles

    Hi Deke!

    First, I bow for the master of PS. I have gone trough a few Lynda tuts with different teachers but you sir are a true master (and a nut)

    Second, I seem to have a weird issue with how images look inside PS vs the video tuts. When using Adobe RGB the images looks far darker then on video’s. ColorMatch seems to compare a lot better (although slightly washed out, less saturated)

    I just want to know one thing. Do I have to start worrying or is it just related to the video converting process and perfectly normal?
    I’m using you Best Workflow profile of course.

    I’ve upped a few examples to my flickr acc. which you can view here:

    Hopefully you can enlighten me

    Thx in advance

    ps. I have looked around on your site and have no idea where else to post this so forgive my stupidity if there is another obvious section for this.

  • The colors will look darker

    The videos are rigorously compressed to make them viewable even over slow connections. Which is generally a great thing, but there are some drawbacks. One is that the shadows get a bit washed out. Speaking in terms of luminance levels, the darkest color is probably up in the teens.

    So the images you download and open in Photoshop should look darker in a good way, richer in tone.

    If they look overly dark, you may want to invest in a calibration device, such as the ColorMunki from x-rite. Photoshop requires a monitor profile to accurate translate colors from Adobe RGB to your display.

    (I couldn’t see your Flickr images, btw. It seems they’re private.)

  • Changed permissions on flickr images

    Hi Deke,

    Thx for the response, hopefully the permissions are set now so you can view the images.

    I know compression has an effect on quality but I’m worried the difference is too much. I’m losing a lot of detail in the shadows. My monitor is calibrated so I can view all the darks from pitch black to white. Some colors might be a tiny bit off though. I’m using a Samsung 2232BW monitor (the one with the proper panel though) which isn’t a high end display.

    Just in case the flickr images still don’t work I’ve upped them to Imageshack:

    Thx in advance Deke

  • Access Denied

    Hello Deke
    I’ve been trying and trying to get into the contest for #7.
    I keep getting access denied. Can you please send me an invitation.
    Been emailing Toby deleted my first 2 accounts hoping that would work.
    recreated Martner account. Still access denied. PLEASE help.

    An eager student of your knowledge.

  • same e-mail

    Sorry, not Deke… but since you seem extremely frustrated.

    IF you are using the same e-mail (for each *new* “account” you create)... you are more than likely getting the (access denied… “you’ve already taken the survey”) since the DB is tracking only the e-mail addy (not your user name).

    Then again… if you have used different e-mails and getting a “denial” other than the default given to anyone trying to make an entry which the DB feels has already been done…. then I apologize for butting in… and I’ll shut up now :(

  • Thank you for the reply

    I was told to recreate my account. I still have no access. I wasn’t able to enter #8 either. I haven’t been able to re answer the questioner if I have to.
    Also every time I subscribe to Deke online news and newsletter when i get back on the web I once again have no subscriptions listed.
    I’m always grateful for comments.

    thank you .

  • Hi there

    I read what you are saying, but have no clue of what your output is.  Ignore the video difference; what do you see when you print it out, or send to Web?  Same light/dark issue?  Just curious…

  • Hi m8, The prints are darker

    Hi m8,

    The prints are darker then on screen. but that might again be related to non high end material. I’m just confused with how the images look more similar when using Colorsmart RGB compared to Adobe or sRGB spaces.

    I guess it’s just the video and nothing to worry about. I had to ask it though just to make sure.

    Thx for the info and guidance.

    Back to the tuts wink

  • can i still get in?

    It’s two days before the contest end for 7th round…  Can i still get an email to get in?

  • Top 40 great

    Hi Deke,

    I’ve watched the whole series so far on  Excellent.  I can’t wait to see #7, I put in my guess ... fingers crossed ...

    Gale Franey

  • fingerprints


    I recently saw a Forensics Files episode that featured a scanned image of a bloody fingerprint on fabric. Perhaps egyptian cotton. Unfortunately, the weave of the fabric was making the details of the fingerprint chaotic and unreadable. It seems they were able use a clean area of the fabric to sample the pattern, then use that to subtract from the fingerprint-on-fabric to reveal a much cleaner fingerprint. Perhaps you could show us armchair forensic investigators how this can be accomplished in Photoshop.



  • Why the different file format?

    I noticed this was an MP4 file, instead of your normal FLV - why? It’s gi-NORmous compared to flv.  Just wondering if there was (as always) a method to your madness, Deke.

  • FLV and MP4(mov)

    Many (of the recent) posted videos have been in MP4 as well as both 360 and 480 FLV… this one is too.

    Once the video begins playing, simply mouse over the correct button (lower right of player) and select which “version” you want.

    If (for what ever reason) MP4 is “too big’ [for you] then select one of the two (2) FLV formats.

    NOTE: although larger, the MP4 file will download faster than the smaller FLV files.


    I watched your photoshop one on one fundamental series

    I like it