Fill Tool Precision

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  • Updated 10 months ago
The cursor icon of the paint bucket with a drop of paint is very indicative of which tool you're using but is frustratingly difficult to use with precision when you are doing intricate fills.

For example, I have a black-on-white outline map of some regions with names inside the regions.  I need to flood the regions with different colours. But even with an image that is 4500 x 3157px, accurate positioning of the cursor in the closed loops of the letters such as a,b,d,e,g, etc is frustratingly difficult..

It's not helped by the fact that the tip of the selector seems to be bottom left of the icon, unlike the selection tool where it is top left.

Please, could we have a set of crosshairs, top left, with the bucket instead?
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Posted 10 months ago

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Joe Morgan

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I’ve don’t use the bucket fill tool much myself. This request got me to looking around at other buckets in other editors. Playing around to see what made them tick.

SnagIt’s Paint Drop is a just a Blob. If the edge of that blob contacts a color, it won’t change it. It has to cross the plane of a pixel a bit to sense the edge of the pixel. At the very least, I think the drop shouldn’t be rounded on the end. It should be further away from the bucket as well.

Photoshop gives you a nice precision triangular tip. Its positioned at the top left of the bucket and isolated from the bucket. It’s very easy to see and use.

Affinity Photo gives you a more of a point on the dripping paint blob. Its still attached to the bucket. And not that definitive.

Microsoft Paint gives you a really short paint drip. Imprecise like SnagIt. I was using a red fill in the image below. The drip was well into the image and the fill was placed outside. It was the worst bucket I tested.

Microsoft Paint 3D uses Crosshairs only. They designed them with outlines. I suspect because it’s difficult to find the crosshairs without the bucket.

I think Photoshop has probably gotten the design right. It’s practically a cursor, except with the bucket. Alerting you to what tool you are using.

 As far as I know, there’s nobody trying to improve the cursors pointer. Pointers are great. They don’t obscure anything.  

Why these other programs chose the paint drip as the point of application? Makes little sense to me.

I think a crosshair probably isn’t the way to go. The legs of the cross hair which extend beyond the point of the fill area, obscure precision placements. They needlessly infiltrate areas you are looking over/about to make a fill to.

Even the crosshair itself, may obscure the very pixels you need to discern from one another.  Or sure you might be able to create a crosshair with a pixel or 2 missing in the center/bullseye.  It’s still less than ideal in my opinion.

I think a pointer makes a lot more sense.


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Good job Joe and I agree, a pointer would be better than crosshairs 
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Daniel Hall

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I took screenshots of the paint bucket/fill tools for Snagit Editor, MS Paint and Photoshop and blew them all up.

There are two problems with Snagit's fill tool cursor. The icon itself is only half the story:

1) the big paint drip is imprecise, simply because the tip of the cursor is too wide

2) the icon itself is sloppy and makes me wonder what's going on with the other icons! You can see a bunch of fuzz around it.

It just isn't a clean icon at all. Whatever decision they make for the cursor icon, I hope they get someone who knows how to use Photoshop to clean it up!

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Rick Stone

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Personally, I've not ever really had that much of an issue with the paint bucket tool. Seemed to work fine for my own needs and it always seemed intuitive to me that the tip of the paint would be where I would place the bucket. But after seeing this thread I do understand where improvement could be used.

Of course, none of us truly know how much attention the SnagIt team will pay to this thread. But assuming they did, I would really hope that such a thing would sort of piggyback on the crosshairs selection used to start a region capture. I'm quite fond of seeing the magnified preview that allows being super precise. I would hope that this would be part of it.

Cheers... Rick :)