How to Use Adobe Photoshop

Seven Methods:Starting a PictureAdding LayersAccessing ToolsSelecting ColorsAdding TextMaking AdjustmentsSaving Files

Photoshop is a graphics editing program by Adobe that is used by professionals and regular consumers. It is usable on a variety of operating systems and is available in a variety of languages. This program can be used to create images from scratch or to alter existing images. Photoshop skills are useful and can lead to gainful employment. You can get a degree or take classes in the use of Photoshop or you can teach yourself to use the program using this and other tutorials.

Method 1
Starting a Picture

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    Start your file. Once the program has started, you will need to open a new file in order to create an image. This can be done by clicking the main menu button and selecting “New”, or pressing “control/command N”.
    • Now you will be presented with a variety of options. This will allow you to customize your starting canvas. Don’t worry, however, as most of these options can be changed even after you have begun working on the file. Just be aware that changing certain options after beginning work will affect the image and need to be compensated for.
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    Choose your dimensions. The first several options are for setting the dimensions of your canvas or work area. You can use a preset size (such as 8.5x11” if you want to make something to print on normal paper), a custom size (using the height and width controls), or choose the clipboard option (which will set the canvas size to the dimensions of whatever is currently in your computer’s clipboard, useful for pasting and editing existing images).
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    Choose your resolution. You will want to set your resolution for the image, based on what you intend to do with it. The resolution determines how many pixels will be in one square inch of the image. The more pixels in an inch, the more detailed the image will be.
    • A higher number of pixels/inch will also result in a larger file. This will have various consequences. Larger files will require more processing power from your computer and may cause it to freeze or lag if your system isn’t powerful enough. Larger files will also take longer to download or upload and should only be put on the web as necessary.
    • Standard web resolution is about 72 pixel/inch. Standard print resolution is about 300 pixel/inch. You can set your resolution however you want, but be aware that using a resolution less than 300 for print will make your image look like there are too many pixels.. Using a resolution above 72 on the web will make your images take longer to download.
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    Choose your color mode. Depending on what your image is for, you will need to change the color mode. This determines how the colors will be calculated and displayed. This is one setting which can be changed after the image has been created without too much consequence. [1]
    • RGB is the standard color mode. This is appropriate for images which will be viewed on a computer, as this is the method computers use to calculate and display images.
    • CMYK is another common color mode. This is the mode best used for images which will be printed, as this is the method used by printers in order to render colors. It will probably be best to create your image in RGB first and then convert it to CMYK before printing, since your computer will automatically display RGB colors.
    • Grayscale is the third most common option and is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It is really only useful for creating images which will be printed in grayscale.
    • With any color mode, the higher the number of bits, the more colors will be able to be displayed. Increasing the bits will also increase the file size, so only use a higher number if absolutely necessary.
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    Choose your background. This will mainly determine if your starting canvas is white or transparent. A white canvas will make it easier to see what you are doing but a transparent one will make most effects easier to achieve.
    • The best option would be to create all of your images on layers above the background, since this will make it so that you can switch back and forth between white and transparent fairly easily.
    • Start with a transparent background, which you then color white. Create every other image on separate layers above the background. Erasing the white as necessary will allow you to have the best of both worlds.

Method 2
Adding Layers

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    Use layers. Using layers is probably the most important aspect of Photoshop. Layers allows you to separate your images and editing into pieces. The more layers you use, the greater your control will be. Edits on one layer will only affect that layer (though layer modes can affect how the layers interact). Also keep in mind that layers are stacked: upper layers will always appear above lower layers. Plan and adjust accordingly.
    • Sample layers would include (in no particular order): highlights, shadows, text, background, linework/inking, base colors, etc.
    • You can make a layer visible or invisible by click the box next to the layer where an eye appears.
    • Create new layers by clicking the “New Layer” button at the bottom of the layer window (should look like two overlapping squares), selecting “New->Layer” from the Layers menu, or by pressing Shift+Command/Control+N.
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    Adjust layer modes. Adjusting the layer mode will be important to creating your image. There are a wide variety of options for the layers and they each have a different effect on how the layer looks, as well as how it interacts with the layers below it. Normal is the default setting.
    • Experiment with the layer modes to learn about what they do. More detailed tutorials can also be found online.
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    Adjust layer opacity/fill. You can adjust the layer opacity (or how transparent everything on that layer is) with the “opacity” and “fill” drop-down menus on the Layer window. Largely these two options will achieve the same effect, so it may not matter which you choose.[2]
    • The only time you will want to choose “fill”, rather than “opacity”, is if you have applied effects to the image (such as stroke, shadows, emboss or glow). Using “fill” in this instance will preserve the effects but make the rest of your later more or completely transparent, depending on the fill level you have chosen.
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    Lock layers.When you are done with a layer, you may want to completely or partially lock it. This will keep it from accidentally being altered. You can choose to lock it completely by selecting the layer and then pressing the lock button on the Layer window. You can lock transparent pixels, painted pixels, or position by pressing those buttons, if you would rather only partially lock the layer. They are located next to the lock button and their names should display when hovered over.[3]
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    Merge your layers. When you are done or while you are working, you may wish to merge your layers. This will combine all of the selected separate images into one. Be aware that this cannot be undone. Right click layers and select merge up or down, depending on which layer you would like it to merge with. You can also click the merge visible option, which will merge all visible layers.

Method 3
Accessing Tools

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    Understand selection tools. The selection tools work in a number of different ways to allow you to select parts or all of your image. Once your image is selected you can copy/paste or simply edit just the selection. You can see when something is selected largely by the “marching ants” which enclose it. To deselect and get rid of the marching ants, press control/command+D. Be aware that the image selection is dependent on the active layer, although you can also select “copy merged” from the Edit menu if you wish to copy all layers without actually merging the layers.[4]
    • Marquee: This will select a set shape, which you can change by clicking and holding or bringing up the menu for the button. It is used in much the same way that you select files on your computer, by clicking and dragging. Constrain a rectangle to a square or an oval to a circle by holding down the shift key while you are making your selection.
    • Lasso: The lasso tool is the same as the marquee, but allows “freehand” selection. The main lasso is the fastest but least accurate selection option. The polygon lasso is similar but requires you to click to create anchor points. The third option is the magnetic lasso, which helps you follow the edge of an object. All three lasso tools require you to close the object before it can be selected. Do this by clicking at the starting point (you will see a little circle appear next to your cursor). If you make a mistake, delete an anchor point by pressing the backspace button.
    • Magic Wand: This tool will select like-pixels, pixels which are similar in color. You can change how picky it is about the color by increasing or decreasing the tolerance. This will allow you to select only particular areas or entire objects.
    • Quick Selection: The quick selection is probably the most common and most useful selection tool for editing particular areas of an image. It is a combination of the magic wand and magnetic lasso tools. Click and drag to select the contiguous areas of an image you would like to alter.
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    Understand brushes. Brushes will be used to add pixels to an image. You can use this to simply make additions to a photograph, or you can use it to paint an entire image from scratch. Brushes are highly adjustable through the brush menu and come in a variety of preset shapes.
    • You can download more brush presets for free or at a cost from a variety of sources on the web.
    • Adjust the size, hardness, and opacity of your brush as necessary. A bigger brush will fill a larger area, a harder brush will give cleaner lines, and lowering the opacity will allow you to layer colors to gain more control.
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    Understand blur, sharpen, and smudge. These tools will be all be under the same button, which looks like a water drop. Choose which you need by clicking and holding or pulling up their menu. These tools all affect the pixels which you touch with the tool and can be used to achieve a few different effects.
    • Blur: this tool will loosen and diffuse pixels, making everything you touch with the tool more blurry. How much more blurry will depend on the strength that you have chosen in the menu at the top.
    • Sharpen: This will do the opposite of blur, tightening and consolidating pixels. Use sparingly, as it can be a rather crude tool.
    • Smudge: This tool will take the color you have selected and smudges it onto the areas where you drag the cursor.
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    Understand dodge, burn, and sponge. These tools lighten and darken an image, respectively, where the sponge tool adds or decreases saturation. You can choose which one you want to use by clicking and holding on the icon which looks like a circle and a line. With these, you will brighten highlights and darken lowlights directly on the image.
    • Since this affects the actual pixels of the image, you will want to copy the image into a new layer and lock the original layer. Edit only the copy to avoid damaging the original image.
    • You can change which type of tones your dodge or burn tools are changing, as well as what your sponge tool does, using the options on the top menu. Try to select highlights for dodge and lowlights for burn, as these will protect your mid tones (unless you want to change your midtones, of course).
    • Don’t forget that you can also increase your brush size as well as the intensity of the tool, using the options at the top.
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    Understand the clone tool. This tool, the button for which looks like a stamp, is used to take a piece of an image and copy it somewhere else. This is used to cover blemishes on skin, delete stray strands of hair, etc. Simply select the tool, alt+click the area you want copied, and then click the area you want covered.
    • Pay attention, as the area being copied will move proportionally with the movements of the cursor as you cover the areas you are altering.
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    Understand gradients. This tool will let you fill in a gradient or fade. This can be on an existing layer or within it’s own layer. The way the gradient appears can be altered at the top, and the colors it draws it’s fade from are derived from the two colors selected in the colors menu (“eraser” and active color).
    • Use the tool by drawing a line (click a starting and ending point). How the gradient works will be determined by where you draw the line, as well as the length you give it. A shorter line will make the transition shorter, for example. Experiment to find how to get the gradient you need.

Method 4
Selecting Colors

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    Click the color selection window. In order to change your color selection, you will want to double-click on the color you wish to change at the bottom of the tool bar. This will bring up a window with several options, the clearest of which is to select the color you want from a mix of the box and the slider (both of which are largely self-explanatory).
    • If you see a warning exclamation appear next to the color slider, it means that the color you have selected cannot print properly, though it should display on a monitor just fine.
    • If you see a little box appear in the same area, this means the color you have selected will not display properly on the web. Select the “only web colors” box at the bottom if this is a concern for you.
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    Use color codes. If you want to use a specific color, take note of it’s hex code. This will be located near the bottom of the window and will be indicated with a pound or hash sign. Type in this code manually to change the color.
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    Understand Pantone colors. This is a system of specifically numbered colors which correspond to inks used to print images. This is used mainly for print media to most accurately produce colors. Choose Pantone colors in Photoshop by going to the Color Library and choosing the appropriate number. Resources for and information about Pantone can also be found readily online, as it is the industry standard.
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    Use the eyedropper tool. You can also choose colors from the image itself by using the eyedropper tool. This can often be imprecise, however, so zoom in to your image for more control over the pixel color you are selecting.

Method 5
Adding Text

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    Use the text tool. The text tool will create text on a new layer. Begin selecting the text tool and then drawing your text box in much the same way the marquee tool is used. It will be easiest to create a new text box/text layer for each line of text you intend to use, as this will allow you better control over the alignment and space between lines.
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    Choose your font. Choose your font, either from the Text menu or the options listed at the top of the window. Remember to choose a font which is appropriate for the image as well as the content of the text. You can change the size of the font using the text options at the top as well.
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    Convert to paths. You can convert the text to a path, if you wish to further distort the shape and size of the text. This will make each individual letter into a contained shape. Keep in mind that this can only be undone using the history menu.
    • To convert the text to a path, right-click the layer on which it appears and select “convert to shape”. You can from there choose the direct selection tool to make many different changes to the objects you have created.

Method 6
Making Adjustments

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    Use filters. Filters, selected from the filter menu and applied to either the visible layer or selection, can be used to achieve a wide variety of effects. When each filter is chosen, a menu with a number of options will be brought up. You can experiment or look online for more details for each filter. [5]
    • For example, you can use the “gaussian blur” to significantly diffuse the pixel on a layer. The “add noise”, “clouds”, and “texture” filters can give texture to your image. Other filters can be used to give dimension or distort images. You will simply have to experiment to find which is right for your project.
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    Use levels. Levels allows you control of an image’s brightness, color balance and contrast by specifically defining absolute white and absolute black for a given image. This is complex and will require experimentation and practice to execute perfectly. Many tutorials can be found online. Open the levels window by clicking command/control+L. [6]
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    Use curves. The curves menu allows you to adjust the tones within your image. Bring up this menu by clicking Image -> Adjustments -> Curves. You will see a line going diagonally across a box. The horizontal scale represents the input image and the vertical scale represents the output image. Click on the line to create anchor points and then drag those points to alter the tones in your image. This will give you more control over contrast than the contrast menu will. [7]
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    Use transform tools. You can use the transform tools to scale, rotate, skew, stretch, or warp an image. This can be done to a selected area, an entire layer, or a series of layers. Access these tools by clicking Edit -> Transform. This will give you a submenu with a variety of options. Choose which is best for you. Experiment or look up tutorials on the web.[8]
    • Remember to press shift if you wish to keep proportions constrained while using transform tools.

Method 7
Saving Files

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    Save your file type. You will want to begin saving your work fairly early on in the creation process. This will keep you from losing data in the event of a crash. Save the file from the menu much as you would in any other program. This will bring up the usual save window, at which point you will need to choose the file type you wish to save it as.
    • If you are still working on a file, save it as a PSD or Photoshop Document, as this will keep all of the editing capabilities of the file intact. It will also preserve layers.
    • If you want to save the file to be uploaded to the web or added into another program, save a separate copy as an image file. The most common option will be a jpeg, though you will want to save as a gif if you wish to preserve transparencies.
    • There is also the option to save as a PDF. This is helpful if the image is largely text-based or is intended for printing on standard paper.
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    Save for the web. If you intend your image to be used on the web, you may wish to save using this menu instead (found towards the bottom of the main menu). This will allow you to further compress the image or alter gif options.

Article Info

Categories: Adobe Photoshop