About using the raster painting tools

The Raster Painting toolbar supports a variety of tools designed for drawing and erasing raster cells.

Brush tool

The Brush tool allows you to paint. This tool can be used to paint new cells or add to existing cells in the raster.

Brush Size

You can change the size of the brush by using the Brush Size drop-down menu. The size you choose becomes the current brush size. The smallest brush size is one pixel.

Fill tool

The Fill tool allows you to fill an area or object with the current foreground color. This can help you save time when you need to fill a large area with the foreground color in your raster.


You can use the Fill Selected Cells command to fill multiple areas at once. You must have a current raster selection to use this command.

Line tool

You can draw two-point lines or multiple-point lines with the Line tool. To draw a two-point line, click to start drawing the line and double-click at the end location to finish the line. To draw multiple-point lines, click to start drawing the line and click again to create a vertex. Repeat these steps until you have reached the endpoint location. Double-click to finish the line.

Line Width

You can change the width of the line by using the Line Width drop-down menu. The line width you choose becomes the current line width.

Rectangle tool

You can draw rectangular shapes with the Rectangle tool. To draw a rectangle, click and drag a box that defines the extents of the rectangle. Release the mouse button to create the rectangle.

Polygon tool

You can create multiple-sided polygon shapes with the Polygon tool. To draw a polygon, click and point in the direction you want to draw, then click again to create a corner of the polygon. When you have finished creating all the corners of the polygon, double-click to finish the drawing.

Ellipse tool

You can draw elliptical shapes with the Ellipse tool. To draw an ellipse, click and drag a box that defines the extent of the ellipse. Release the mouse button to create the ellipse.

Erase tool

You can delete cells in the raster with the Erase tool. You can erase small areas in the raster by clicking with the tool and larger areas by clicking and dragging the erase cursor over a series of raster cells.

Erase Size

You can change the size of the Erase tool by using the Erase Size drop-down menu. The size you choose becomes the current erase size.

Swap Foreground/Background

The foreground and background colors are displayed on the Raster Painting toolbar with the foreground color always on top. You can switch the foreground and background colors with the Swap Foreground/Background button. Since the draw tools only create cells in the foreground, switching colors allows you to use them for erasing purposes or to overwrite cells. Consequently, the Erase tool assumes brushlike characteristics, since it will be painting cells in the foreground instead of the background, which is the default.

Magic Erase tool

In addition to the standard Erase tool, the Raster Painting toolbar supports a more robust tool for removing a large number of raster cells at one time. This tool is called the Magic Erase tool. It allows you to erase connected cells. You can click the connected cells, and they will be erased. This includes the connected cells that are beyond the current map display extents. You can also drag a box around a series of connected cells to erase them. All connected cells that are completely within the box are removed. Connected cells that pass through the dragged box are not affected.

Using the Magic Erase tool is an efficient way to remove a large number of cells with minimal effort. It is useful for erasing noise and text without having to worry about deleting raster cells that you want to vectorize.

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Published 6/8/2010