7 Tips For Learning Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop has been synonymous with all forms ofdigital art since the stone ages of computer graphics, rendering, andpost-production visualization. The program has undergone countless quality oflife changes over the past two decades and evolved into a program that is bothmore user friendly and powerful than it has ever been.

However, for newcomers and early-learners, untanglingPhotoshop’s mess of options, settings, tools, and techniques can be an exercisein retaining your sanity and exhausting your patience. If you don’t have asolid foundation of basic knowledge under your feet, using photoshop in anykind of productive way will leave you discouraged, beaten down, and perhapswith a computer shaped hole in your window.

Fear not! These 7 tips will help you weather that initialsurge of fundamental know-how so you can start learning from experience,practice, and repetition.

1 | Make a Keyboard ShortcutCheat Sheet

As you start using Photoshop for professional work,keyboard shortcuts will be vital for maintaining efficiency and making sure youget the most out of time spent with the program. Creating a physical cheatsheet will not only act as a quick reference guide for keyboard shortcuts, itwill help you gain an initial understanding of the robust Photoshop toolset.

If you need a little help getting started, this cheat sheet should help youunderstand which shortcuts will toggle which tool. Print it out, copy it inyour notebook, or paint it on your wall in the form of an interpretive mural.Whatever you do, study these tools, what they do, and how to use themeffectively. Start practicing that (ctrl+z) now!

2 | Use the Magnetic Lasso Tool

I hate to admit it, but I went through years of Photoshoppain using nothing by the Polygon Lasso tool to select and isolate layers,unaware that the magical Magnetic Lasso tool hid there in plain sight, mockingmy every ill-advised move. The tool allows you to quickly separate areas of aphoto or image without tedious mouse-work, making it easy to edit, or performother actions on without affecting the rest of the image.

Accessing the Magnetic Lasso is as easy as holding theleft mouse click down over the Polygon Lasso until a drop-down menu appears.Select the one at the end with a small magnet on it (duh), and away you go!Soon enough, you’ll be wondering how you ever went through life without it.

3 | Also Use the Magic Wand Tool

The other Photoshop master of selection is the Magic Wandtool. It’s the “I’m too lazy to take time to separate this object so here’shoping I can just Magic Wand the thing and be on my way,” tool. You can adjustthe threshold with which the Magic Wand will select the pixels, which gives yousome control over what will be selected and what won’t.

Be advised, though, there are some problems the Magic Wandsimply can’t solve. For complex images that don’t have clearly defined edges orboundaries, you’ll have to rely on more discrete means of selection, such asthe Magnetic or Polygon Lasso.

4 | Understand Adjustment Layers

For post-production, few tools are more important to astunning final image than Adjustment Layers. It allows you to adjust the hue,color, and saturation of an image by adding a top layer filter that can beadjusted on the fly. The additional layer is essential for the ability to turnit on or off with the push of a button, making changes temporary and easy tomanage.

Adjustment Layers can be found as a black and white circleicon at the bottom of the Layers tab. Use it wisely.

5 | Always Consider LayerManagement

Layers are going to quickly become your best friend whenworking in Photoshop. If you’re working on a large, complex image with manylayers and sublayers, it’s it’s important to keep them labeled and organized ina way that makes them easy to manage. Create a system of hierarchies and stickto it with rigorous discipline.

Once you get the hang of basic layer organization, you canstart getting into Clipping Masks, Layer Styles, and a variety of other usefultools that work even better when things are clean and tidy.

6 | Spot Healing Brush

For the imperfections in the images we edit, the SpotHealing Brush is here to rescue us from what might otherwise be a tedious andcomplicated task. It’s the tool that made Photoshop famous, and is sure to makeyour photo editing life much easier in the future.

Use the brush to select the area you’d like to clean up,and watch magic unfold before your eyes as it samples pixels from thesurrounding area to create the perfect blended patch. You’re welcome.

7 | Learn How to Use theHistogram

The Histogram is that stock market tracker looking thingthat will tell you if your photos or images have an issue with exposure. Onceyou understand the basics, it will help you fine tune pictures and renderingsso they feel more balanced.

To the right of the histogram is light, to the left isdark. If the peaks and valleys of the graph are leaning towards the right, itmeans your image could be overexposed. To the left, underexposed. Of course,these are only mean to be rules of thumb to guide your perception. Don’t letthem govern everything you do, as creative license can mean an underexposedimage is just what you’re trying to convey.