How To Use Paint Bucket Tool In Photoshop 2022

Have you ever thrown a bucket of paint on something to color it? Well, I can’t say you can throw a bucket of paint to color something well, but you can certainly do that in Photoshop. 

Photoshop application offers many ways to color your drawings or anything you want to color. And the Paint Bucket is one of the best ways to color a larger or smaller area just with a single click. 

However, with many advantages it offers, the Paint Bucket tool has its limitations. Sometimes, you may even have trouble with the action of the tool. That is why I will discuss all the tools and also how to use the Paint Bucket tool in Photoshop to color something.

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What Is The Paint Bucket Tool In Photoshop?

You have seen a bucket of paints of various colors, right? The Paint Bucket tool is like that. It allows you to fill images or drawing layers, designs, patterns, graphics, illustrations, etc, with any color you want.

It is one of the advanced tools in Photoshop that helps you get the job done with a single click. But how does it add color?

Imagine pouring or throwing a bucket of paint on something that is bordered, and the entire area gets filled with color instantly. Well, maybe that’s not how it happens in real life, but in the world of Photoshop, that is how it works.

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Where To Find The Paint Bucket Tool?

If you are new to Photoshop, you may have a little trouble finding the Paint Bucket tool instantly. But as I explained, it is like pouring paint from a bucket. So look at the left-side Toolbar on your device screen, and you will spot the tool somewhere around the middle.

But in some cases, the Paint Bucket tool may not show on the Toolbar. In that case, you need to find the Gradient Tool first. Sometimes, it shows up under the Gradient Tool. You can also open the tool using the keyboard shortcut command by pressing G on both Windows and MAC.

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Setting Up The Paint Bucket Tool

When you select the Paint Bucket tool from the Toolbar on the left, you will get an option bar right under the top menu bar. Based on the type of your drawings, images, or illustrations, you may need to adjust the options. So let’s take a look at the settings you will get and how you can set them up for the Paint Bucket tool.


The very first option you will see is the Foreground/Pattern. Photoshop will show Foreground by default, but you can change it by clicking on the extended icon. The difference between these two options is how they work when applying any color.

When you select Foreground, you can fill the entire selected area with the selected foreground color by clicking on it. On the other hand, selecting Pattern will allow you to apply color with various patterns.

Mode/Blend Mode

The next option you will get is called Mode or Blend Mode. This option will allow you to blend the color or pattern with the overall image or parts of it.

The default system will show the Mode as Normal. But once you click on the extended icon on the Mode option, you will get a list of modes, such as Dissolve, Behind, Clear, Darken, Lighten, Multiply, etc.

Though there are different Photoshop tools that help you blend colors in various layers, this option only works here when you are using the Paint Bucket Tool. And certain coloring options may not work if you do not select a blending mode.


Opacity is basically the transparency of the original image and the color or pattern you have applied. It leaves it up to you to control the visibility of the mode or color you applied.

When you leave it to 100%, the original image will be covered by the effect. But when you lower the opacity level, the original image will show through the color or mode. With 0% Opacity applied, you will only see the original image because the effect will no longer be visible.

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Tolerance usually controls the range of pixels the Paint Bucket tool changes. By lowering the level, you will affect only a few pixels as you apply colors. On the other hand, if you increase the Tolerance level, the tool will be able to apply more color to paint the images.

The best part of using the Paint Bucket tool is that you won’t have to worry about the tolerance level if you are working on an empty layer. Since an empty layer does not have different colors, the tool can easily paint the entire area in one go.


To understand this option better, I suggest you try painting a selected area first by selecting the option and then without selecting it. If you do that without selecting Anti-alias, you will notice that the edges of your selected subject haven’t blended properly. But if you fill with color with the option selected, the color and subject’s edges will blend smoothly, and nothing will look unnatural.


Contiguous helps you lock and restrict certain areas of the image so that the painted color will not affect it. It also means when the option is turned on, the pixels closest to one another will be painted without touching other spots. But when you leave the option unselected, it can paint over any pixels with similar colors.

All Layers

As you might know, Photoshop allows you to work on editing and coloring images using multiple layers. If you want to paint on a single layer, you can leave the option unchecked. However, if you want to make changes in all the layers you are working on, you must select All Layers.

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How To Use The Paint Bucket Tool

The description above was to help you understand what those options are and how they work. And now that you know how they work, your next step is to use the Paint Bucket tool. You will learn more about them as you work on painting the image or drawing with the tool.

And for now, you can follow the step-by-step guide below to learn that.

Step 1: Open The Image/Create Artwork

As a beginner, you can just try how the tool works on an empty layer.

If not, you can open an image that you need to work on or create a drawing or illustration for painting. But as a newbie, I suggest going with something simple and easy.

Step 2: Select The Area You Want To Paint

Once the image or artwork is ready, use a selection tool to select the area you want to paint on.

You can use the Lasso Tool, Marquee Tool, Object Selection Tool, etc., to select the area or subject with more precision.

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Step 3: Select The Tool Paint Bucket Tool

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is select the Paint Bucket Tool. As I described at around the beginning, you can find the tool directly on the Toolbar or under the Gradient Tool.

You can also press G from the keyboard to activate the tool. When the tool is active and you move it over the workspace, you will see that the pointer looks like a paint bucket.

Step 4: Set Up The Options

Now, it is time to set up the tool using what you have learned before this. You can now select Foreground/Pattern, Blend Mode, Opacity, Tolerances, etc.

Setting up the tool is essential as it will affect how the painting turns out when you apply colors. But don’t stress too much over it because you can always change the settings or make changes later.

Step 5: Pick Your Color

Now select the Background or Foreground option from the left-side Toolbar.

Depending on what you are painting over, you can choose either the background or the foreground option. Once you select one of them, a dialog box color palette will pop up.

You can select your desired color from the palette by clicking on it. If you want a different color, you can move the slider up or down to change it. Once you have selected a color, click OK.

Step 6: Paint On

This part is pretty straightforward. With everything selected as you need and the color is ready, all you have to do is paint. Move and place the Paint Bucket where you want the color and give the pointer a click. That’s it!

You will see that the selected area is now filled with the color you chose. Using the very same process, you can paint the rest of the image or art.

Step 7: Make Adjustments (If Necessary)

That was all you needed to do for painting with the Paint Bucket tool.

Paint Buckets Tools

But if you find an issue with the color’s layer, opacity, or blending, you can always get back to the options and make adjustments if necessary.

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When To Use The Paint Bucket In Photoshop?

The Paint Bucket tool has been the best tool for many people who save time using shortcuts even when working on the most challenging projects. But if you are a beginner and don’t know when it is best to use this tool, here is your answer.

To Fill An Area With Color

Do you have a drawing or painting ready? Now, do you want to fill it with various colors without taking so much time? Then the Paint Bucket is the go-to tool for you. Large or small, it can fill any bordered area with colors of your choice just with a single click.

To Color Background And Foreground Simultaneously

Other than quick color application, this tool also comes in handy for another reason. If your image or drawing’s both background and foreground need coloring, you can easily switch between them to color them or even change the color back and forth.

To Work With Layers And Selections

Does your drawing or illustration have multiple layers? Or is it a complex combination of multiple artworks? If so, you can rely on the Paint Bucket tool to offer reliability in applying colors regardless of their complexity.

To Work With Other Tools

Talking about complexity, sometimes, you can use the Paint Bucket tool by combining it with other tools. You can use it for complex illustrations and colleges with the Pen Tool, Brush Tool, Gradient Tool, etc.

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Various Uses Of The Paint Bucket Tool

Some people think the Paint Bucket tool is old-school and takes it for granted. But you should never underestimate this tool as it is known for its excellent work and effectiveness. So here are some common uses of the Paint Bucket tool Photoshop offers.

  • Image Rendering

The Paint Bucket tool is highly useful for image rendering. Designers use color fills when creating various 2D and 3D illustration models.

  • Color Patterns Or Create Diagrams

Whether you are a professional artist or creating designs and diagrams, you will need the Paint Bucket tool to color them if necessary. This way, you can get the job done quickly.

  • Learning Tool For Kids

Teaching young kids about color or showing them how to color things on the computer is not a piece of cake. But with the Paint Bucket tool, learning about colors can be really fun. It also helps them develop new skills.

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Why Isn’t The Photoshop Paint Bucket Tool Not Working?

If you are planning to use the Paint Bucket tool for your project, you are definitely not looking to use anything else. That makes the tool even more important. So if for some reason, the tool acts up or does not work properly, it can be a big problem.

But why doesn’t the tool work? What can you do to solve the issues when the tool acts up?

Here are some common reasons why the Photoshop Paint Bucket Tool may not work and what you can do to solve the issues.

The Tool Is Not Selected

The most common reason why users often find themselves unable to use the Paint Bucket tool is that they forgot to select the tool in the first place. You must select the tool from the Toolbar or from the Gradient Tool options before adjusting anything else. If the tool is not selected, it will not work.

The Area Does Not Have A Selected Border

The Paint Bucket Tool does not work like the pencil or brush icon tools. While those tools allow you to paint any part of the drawing or image as you want, the Paint Bucket tool will only work on a selected border or bordered area. So make sure the area you want to apply the color that has an enclosed border to fill with color.

You Are Trying To Apply Different Colors/Hue On The Same Area

As I just said in the previous section, the Paint Bucket tool will fill with color only. And that has to be an area with a similar color. You cannot use it to apply multiple colors on the same enclosed or bordered area. So if you try to select various colors with the tool and click on images or drawings, it will only apply a single color.

Not The Right Layer

Yes, the layer you are working on can be the reason why the Paint Bucket tool is not working. You should know that the Paint Bucket tool works only on a raster layer. If it is anything else, like a vector layer, the tool will not work. And if the tool does not seem to work on a raster layer, make sure the layer is not locked.

Reset The Tool

If you are still having trouble with the Paint Bucket tool, the only best solution you have is to reset the tool. Resetting the tool will help you start all its settings, and, in most cases, it fixes the problems.

Here is how you can reset the Paint Bucket Tool.

  • Go to the Edit panel from the top menu bar and click on it.
  • Then go around the bottom of the drop-down menu and select Preferences and then select General. You can also open the setting directly by pressing CTRL+K (COMMAND+K on MAC).
  • After that, select Reset Preferences on Quit
  • When the confirmation box pops up, click OK to reset the settings.
  • Close the Photoshop application and launch it again to start using the tools again.

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If you are new when it comes to working in Photoshop, you may not know about the Paint Bucket tool Photoshop has or how it works. But this tool has been a part of the software from the very beginning and offers many advantages. So it is no surprise that the Paint Bucket is one of the most widely used coloring tools by professionals, non-professional designers, and editors.

With a single click, this tool lets you paint the largest areas in less than a second. However, you must ensure the settings are set up correctly and the area you want to fill with Paint Bucket color is bordered. If not, you may end up coloring where it isn’t necessary.

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