Become an Image Editing Master With These Photoshop Tips

Become an Image Editing Master With These Photoshop Tips
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While Photoshop has become synonymous with image editing, opening it for the first time can be intimidating if you’re just starting with the software. Thankfully, like any major software, there are plenty of people out there who know their way around it and have a lot of advice if you’re not sure where to start.

So, whether you’re looking to start a career in graphic design or you want to build up some skills as a hobby, here are a few Photoshop tips and tricks for beginners.

Learn the workspace

Image: Adobe

The first time you open up Photoshop, it can feel daunting. What are all these buttons and what exactly do they do? How do I add a new layer and what do I select to change brushes? The best way to learn is by doing. The more time you spend in Photoshop, the more familiar and comfortable you’ll become with its various features and functions.

It’s also important to find what works for you, specifically. Don’t be afraid of customising your workspace to better suit your workflow.

Use guided tutorials

If you’re not sure how to perform a specific function, the good news is that you’re not the first person to have this problem. Adobe has a huge range of guided tutorials available that’ll help you get a better handle on Photoshop. These interactive tutorials will take you through various Photoshop features step by step, giving you handy tips, so you’ll be able to apply these newly learned skills to your other work.

Learn your hotkeys

Having a handle on keyboard shortcuts will help you improve your workflow. Instead of stopping what you’re doing so you can quickly search for a specific tool or sub-menu, you can just quickly tap some keys and get what you want instantly. Over time, you’ll develop muscle memory and will be firing off those shortcuts without a second thought.

You can find a handy list of keyboard shortcuts here.

Save regularly

If there’s one piece of advice that you should take away from this article, it’s that you should be constantly saving your work. You never know when a crash is going to ruin your day, and losing all your work can be an unfortunate cherry on top of that shit sundae.

So remain diligent and save frequently. If you can also back up your files regularly, even better.

And while you’re at it, do yourself a favour and name your files properly. If you need to refer to a previous version of a job or dig up an older project, you’ll save yourself the headache if it’s titled something relevant, like “Wedding_Photos_May_2023” instead of “QWERTY_01_FINAL_FINAL” or “AAAAAAAAAAA (01)”.

Check your layers

Image: Adobe

As a rule of thumb, you should never make any destructive edits to the original picture – these should all be made in layers. Think of each layer as a transparent film that you can add to, whether that’s text or other images, which can be stacked on top of one another without making a destructive edit to the other layers. This means that if you want to get rid of a layer, you can without affecting the rest of your image.

Again, do yourself a favour and name your layers as well. It’ll make it a lot easier to sort through them when or if you need to.

Understand layer masking

Layer masking is a feature that allows you to edit specific parts of an image while protecting the rest of it from any changes.

For example, you want to edit a person standing in the foreground of a photo but don’t want to touch anything else. You can select that figure (more on that in a moment) and create a masking layer. With the masking layer enabled, you can now make various edits to the person – like adjusting their vibrance or colour saturation – while protecting everything that wasn’t masked.

You can check your masks in the layers panel and for quick reference, the black areas of masks are protected from editing, while the white areas aren’t.

Make quick selections

Let’s say that you want to brighten up the sky in a landscape photo you’ve taken – or maybe you want to make a foreground figure pop more. To make more precise edits and adjustments to specific parts of your image, you’ll need to isolate it from the rest of the image by selecting the object or area.

While you can use the Lasso tool to draw your selection area if you don’t think you’re being precise enough, some tools can help you out, like the Object Selection tool. With this tool, you can hover over parts of your image while Photoshop gives you possible object selection suggestions.

Photoshop also has ‘Select Subject’ and ‘Select Sky’ tools that use advanced machine learning-based Al tools to intuitively select specific parts of your image. Once you have the object you want, you can select it and copy it to a new layer or even create a new masking layer.

Remove marks with the Clone Stamp and Spot Healing Brush tools

photoshop tips for beginners
Image: Adobe

Looking to remove some elements from your image but aren’t sure what you can do? Photoshop has a few options available.

Clone Stamp does exactly what it says on the tin and is better used for covering larger elements. First, you select a part of your image that you want to copy and then you’ll be able to add it to another part of your image. Once copied, you’ll be able to apply this element to your image to cover unwanted items.

For example, you could clone a part of the sky to remove an aeroplane that appears in the background of a photo.

The Clone Stamp can also be used to add more of the same object to your image. So instead of removing that plane from the background, you could add even more in.

The Spot Healing Brush tool can be used to remove small blemishes and marks from your images, like a stain on a shirt or a mark on a tabletop. This tool can sample from all of your available layers and uses content awareness to seamlessly fill the space that was previously occupied by the blemish.

Remove even more with the Content-aware fill tool

photoshop tips for beginners
Image: Adobe

While the previously mentioned tools can help you get rid of some elements, there is a limit to their abilities. Is there a particularly prevalent object – or objects – in your image that need removing? Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill function will let you remove it while seamlessly filling the space left behind.

Select the object you want to remove (either with the aforementioned Object Selection Tool or Select Subject function) and select ‘Content-Aware Fill’ from the Edit menu (or right-click on the selection). Photoshop will provide you with a preview of what the edited image will look like while allowing you to adjust the Content-Aware Fill levels until you’re happy with the changes.

Presets can help

Presets are, as their name suggests, premade filters and editing sequences that can be applied to your work. They can be handy if you’re looking for a specific aesthetic to start with, or you want to experiment with a few different ones during your brainstorming phase.

While a few presets are available through Photoshop, you’re also able to download ones made by other creatives. You’re able to create your own presets as well, so you can apply editing sequences right away instead of starting from scratch. These shortcuts can also be particularly helpful if you’re aiming for a consistent aesthetic across multiple works.

You can subscribe to Adobe Photoshop here, with plans starting from $29.99 per month.

Image: iStock/gorodenkoff

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At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.