Getting Started with Photoshop Hacks

Written by: Heather Snyder

Adobe Photoshop is a massive program with a lot of great tools and features. Learning the full capacity of Photoshop takes a great deal of time, which can be intimidating. Many of us who are unfamiliar with Photoshop turn to PowerPoint for graphic design, which is a great choice, albeit not as powerful.

The internet is full of instructions to make Photoshop more accessible to causal users. That, too, can be overwhelming unless you know exactly what you are looking for. I have had the opportunity to work with many talented graphic artists who have helped me distill the information I need to get the power I want out of Photoshop when I am designing training. Let’s take a look at a few of the tips and hacks I have picked up over the years.  

Short cuts

Let’s start with some basics. The best tools are easy to use. Photoshop is full of shortcuts, which help to speed up design and development work. Adobe provides a comprehensive list of shortcuts on their help site. Incorporate at least one shortcut each time you open Photoshop.

Color Swatches

Color is important in graphic design. The color wheel is a great place to start when you are creating a look and feel. If you want to go beyond the basics, you can create your own color swatch. One of my designer friends suggests finding a picture of something in nature, like a flower or landscape, and use it to create a color swatch. SitePoint has a fantastic tutorial on applying this hack.

PSHack1

Actions

This is a fun little hack I learned years ago when I was an intern, applying the same action to several images repeatedly. Photoshop can record a set of actions and apply them across multiple image files. For example, if you need to crop a bunch of files to the same size, add a watermark to a graphic, or change the colors in a group of files, this can be automated in Photoshop using actions.

To check out actions, click the Windows menu in your toolbar, and check Actions. A group of prepopulated actions load such as Sepia Toning and Save as Photoshop File. Record a new action by clicking the New Action icon or get a bunch of free actions at Creative Bloq.

PSHack2

Typography

Font is important, but it isn’t the only factor in how words look on screen or paper. Factors like leading, kerning, tracking, etc. play into how your information is digested. Did I lose you in that last sentence? Many of us are unfamiliar with these aspects of typography. Don’t worry, Adobe has tips on their help site for Typography.

Content-aware fill

Another fast way to update your photo or graphic is to use the Content Aware fill option, which fills the area you select with content from the image. This is a best guess by Photoshop, and it isn’t always perfect, but I am always impressed by how well this works.

To do a content aware fill; select the area in your image you need to fill. Right click and select Fill. In the contents dropdown, select Content Aware, and then click OK.

Adobe has a good video of this being done on their help site.

PSHack4

There are many blogs dedicated to getting started with Photoshop, advanced techniques, and everything in between. Don’t be afraid to browse around to find hacks that fit your needs.

What Photoshop hacks do you use? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.  

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