CoffeeShop Editing 101-Sponge Tool!

I just recently discovered the sponge tool in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. Why I hadn't used it before[...] is beyond me as it is a very useful tool to saturate and desaturate areas in your image. The tool is located in your tool pane as seen above.

NOTE: Before using the sponge tool, Ctrl-J to make a copy of your background and work on that copied layer. I never work on the original background layer! Select the sponge and go to the top menubar and adjust the softness of your brush and select saturate or desaturate from the pull-down menu.

Here is my original image of Galveston Island.

I used saturate and a soft brush set at 25% and painted over the sky, and then set the opacity to 50% and painted over the ground. Now you can see a color pop. This is a great method that allows you complete control of where you want your colors enhanced.

On this image I used desaturate and a soft brush set at 50% opacity to paint over the skies and 25% opacity to paint over the ground. Now we have a more somber beach scene.

The sponge tool is a powerful addition to your daily editing tools. Once you figure out it is there you will find it very useful!

I receive emails all of the time asking my opinion for the best books on editing in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements. If I had to suggest only one book, I would say buy one of these:

These books are great for new users AND those of you with more experience. They are very easy to follow and have tons of great tips and tricks. I love Kelby's books, they just make sense to me. I like my information "idiot-proof". ;-)

Oh, and my dream camera has dropped to well under $700 ($638 at this posting)! Fortunately (or maybe unfortunately???) my old Canon Rebel XT is still plugging on. Darn Canons, they take a licking and keep on ticking. One of these days... :-)


Dani B November 14, 2009 at 10:25 AM  

Cool!!! I can't wait to try this! Thanks for the tip!

Staci Brock November 14, 2009 at 11:12 AM  

Well. Duh. I never used it for that either! I have used the burn tool, but not sponge...thank you! Off to edit a session and will try this.

Michele November 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO easy!!! LOVE it and LOVE YOU!! I dont even know why I haven't thought to use the sponge myself. THanks RIta! :) You rock girl!

Heather November 14, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

Oh my goodness ... how much easier could this be? Thanks so much for writing about it - I had no idea! :)

Brittany November 14, 2009 at 1:50 PM  

Thank you for sharing this tutorial!
The sponge is not a tool that I use... I've been missing out!! :)

Dawn November 14, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

Wow- can't believe what a difference this makes- and it was sitting there in the toolbar, just waiting! THANK YOU!

S November 14, 2009 at 8:24 PM  

Thank you, I haven't used this tool at all! Looks easy.

Rochelle November 14, 2009 at 8:52 PM  

Thanks!! I tried it this afternoon... Amazing :)

Kelly November 14, 2009 at 9:24 PM  

Awesome! Thanks for sharing your discoveries! It really helps me!

Schrockinator November 14, 2009 at 9:37 PM  

Thanks! I've always wondered what that tool did! Good, brief, and to-the-point!

creativeclicksphotography November 14, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

i never even knew why the sponge tool existed. i am pretty sure it was never touched in either of my photoshop courses. what an awesome editing tool! thank you!


way outnumbered November 15, 2009 at 9:14 AM  

I use Dodge & Burn all the time but NEVER have used the sponge tool! Now it's time for some experimenting...thank you!

Amy November 15, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

Thankyou Rita! So so great to know.. I have always!!

thankyou thankyou!


denise:) November 15, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

Sincerely, truly- i love you. :D
Thanks for all your great tips and tricks, you're the best!

Christina Lee November 15, 2009 at 4:13 PM  

Great post and tutorial.
I am with you. I like to make a copy of my background image as well, and HIGHLY encourage it of my students--that way they can revert back to the original if needed.

We are going to start doing more with designing graphics and using textures in the next few weeks and I look forward to showing them your wonderful blog!

Debbie November 16, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Thanks Rita....a very helpful tutorial.

Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD November 19, 2009 at 7:52 PM  

Looking forward to trying it! Thank you!

Darlene November 22, 2009 at 6:08 PM  

Oh my! I just tried this and it is so awesome!! And easy and wonderfully effective. Thank you so much!! All of your teachings have enhanced my photography - big time!

Lynn March 25, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

I understand you are beginning your career as a homeschooler, but have you ever done any other teaching? You have a very wonderful way of explaining details without getting lost in the detail! You are a blessed soul for sharing your gifts and your children are blessed to have you as a mom and a teacher.

P.S. I agree that the Kelby books are THE BEST! I have tried others, but his are by far more creative and easier to follow at the same time.

Distressing Delilah a.k.a. jenn March 29, 2010 at 6:43 PM  

Thank you for all your knowledge you share!

Rhonda November 7, 2010 at 8:50 PM  

Wow-you just opened up a whole new world for me! Never knew that was there! thanks!