Adobe Photoshop is the world’s most popular graphics editor, providing the user with a huge variety of tools for creating drawings from scratch as well as for processing photographs. With its help you can retouch photos, get rid of unnecessary items in photos, or replace objects. When it comes to hand drawing, Photoshop will be a great solution for artists because it is fully compatible with graphics tablets and is suitable for creating drawings.
Let’s take a closer look at this program.
Creating a project in Photoshop
I suggest you go straight to the instructions on how to use the editor. To start with, you need to buy the program or download the trial version from the official site, which does not take much time and is not anything complicated, so I will not talk about it in detail.
Right after the installation you can start Photoshop and wait for the welcome window to appear. It shows up at startup (if it’s not disabled in the settings), displays recent documents with the ability to filter, allows you to open a project to work or create a new one.
If you click the “Create” button, another window called “Create Document” appears. It contains several preset templates with the orientation of the canvas, its size and other parameters. That is, you can use these settings to edit the parameters of the document style. For example, icons require a canvas with a fixed size (e.g. 64×64 pixels), leaflets can be A4 or any other standard size. All that can be specified when creating a document and you can start working with the right proportions right away.
The main elements of the interface
You can not get used to the program of this level quickly if you have no idea about the general elements of the interface, which have to interact in any way. I have divided them into categories, so that it is easier to understand what each of them does and to remember the functions that can be triggered by them.
The top bar
The menu on the top bar is where most of the different items, options, and functions are found. The menu lists are displayed when you click on it with the left mouse button – so you can read the settings that are present and call one of them. Let’s take a look at all the menus on the top bar in order.
First is “File” – the name of this menu already makes its purpose clear. From here, you can start creating a new project, open an existing one, close the one you are working on now, or save changes. If you remember the hotkeys opposite each item, this will greatly accelerate the work process, because pressing a combination is much easier than clicking a few times with the mouse.
In the “Edit” menu, the most frequently used functions are “Undo” or “Redo”, for which hotkeys are also assigned. However, other standard actions are also present here: “Paste”, “Cut” or “Copy”. Don’t forget that in order to paste or copy an object, it must initially be selected. Pay attention to specific features, such as “Replacing the sky” or “Deforming perspective. The first tool automatically detects the sky in a photo and lets you edit its color. When you use the second one, you select the area to change perspective by yourself and rotate it with a pin, changing the angle at which the elements are represented in the photo.
I’ll talk about “Image” in more detail in another section of this article, when it comes to retouching an image and changing its appearance. But be aware that you can also use this menu to resize the canvas (and the image will be cropped if it’s larger than the parameters you set) or to do the same with the entire image. There are also functions for rotating the picture or creating a duplicate image.
The “Layers” list of functions is rarely used for working with layers since it’s easier to do that with a separate window, which I’ll talk about a bit later too. Most of the tools present here are intended for experienced users, because it’s unlikely that a beginner needs to create a smart object or a video layer. Note that you can also use this menu to quickly export the current layer to PNG or any other suitable format.
You use a separate panel for working with text that appears when you select the appropriate tool, but you can get more options in the menu of the same name to load more official fonts, adjust orientation, antialiasing, translate a layer into 3D, or change the language settings if the default ones don’t suit you.
When working with different objects in Adobe Photoshop, you often use a selection that you can’t quickly remove. To do this, you can use the function in the “Selection” menu, which also comes in handy for other tasks. It is used to select a specific object, the sky or a color range. Thanks to the built-in algorithms, all this is done automatically.
The available functions in “Filter” are useful if you are engaged in photo processing. You can use them to adjust distortion, change blur, stylize, remove noise or correct perspective. The interaction with each filter is intuitive, so all you have to do is select the appropriate one and change the parameters in a new window, which will affect the display of the photo.
The Window menu controls all available windows in Photoshop. A check mark next to an item means that it is now displayed in the working environment. Over time, you’ll come to understand what windows you’re missing, but for now you can use the list of available templates from the “Work Environment” item, selecting an option there for a particular type of activity.
Tool’s parameters panel
Let me tell you about the panel below where all the available parameters for the selected tool are shown. Their display depends on whether you’ve chosen a brush, text, or any other function in the panel on the left. Accordingly, you can’t cover them all in a single article, so I’ll discuss just the most important ones when talking about specific tools in a later section.
We’ll talk about the Toolbar later, but first I just want to tell you about its existence. You always see it on the left, and it displays almost all of the tools available, whether you’re making a drawing from scratch or editing a photo. If you left-click on each tool, additional properties will open, such as the ability to choose not just a lasso, but a magnetic lasso or a straight lasso (depending on your needs in selecting a shape).
Separately, let’s talk about the kind of windows that are displayed in the default workspace. Of course, you can change their position or disable them altogether if you’re not using color selection or working with object properties. This is done through the top panel menu I mentioned earlier.
The first window, Color, is for color selection when using a fill, drawing with a brush, or adding a shape. You can change both primary and secondary colors by switching between the corresponding tiles. This window has several tabs, to switch between them to select color swatches, add gradients or patterns to the drawing. All available options are sorted into groups, so it doesn’t take long to find the right one.
The “Properties” window becomes available only after you select a particular object. In the following screenshot, you see that the ellipse layer is now active (it’s framed with pins) and that changes in perspective and appearance are available for it. Use “Fill” if you want to change the color of the object, and “Stroke” when you want to add an outline. By the way, there are several options for the stroke, allowing you to choose its type, size, and line type.
Another main window is the “Layers” window. Each element on the canvas is created as a separate layer, but you can also manage them manually, for example, when it comes to processing a photo. The background is fixed and inaccessible for moving, and all the other layers superimposed on top of it are edited according to the user’s needs. If you right-click on a layer, an additional menu appears allowing you to delete it, create a duplicate, apply a mask or go to the blending options.
Basic Photoshop tools
Let’s proceed to analyze the purpose of the main Photoshop tools. We won’t be able to describe each of them in detail, so we’ll dwell on the principle of operation only, and you can check their work by yourself by creating a test project.
By default, the tool “Move” is selected, and its name tells you about its main purpose. Select any layer and use it to move it to the desired location on the canvas. Pay attention to the guides highlighted in pink – they allow you to maintain the proportions relative to the canvas itself or to other objects on it.
Next is “Rectangular Area”. If you press the left mouse button on this tool, you can select a different type of selection: an oval, a vertical or a horizontal line. The way it works is that you select an arbitrary area as a specified shape on a layer and can copy, cut, or do other editing such as filling with color with another tool or using the eraser when you don’t want the object to extend beyond the selection.
When it comes to an arbitrary selection frame, “Lasso” and all its types are ideal for that. You can use it to draw a selection on dots, use the magnetic type to attach dots at a color junction, or apply only straight lines.
In the next picture you can see the available types of this tool, which appear when you call the context menu.
Below you can see the “Magnetic Lasso” option for selecting a shape. As you can see, the automatically generated points cover only the ellipse and do not go beyond its borders. This will allow you to freely move the selected object, clone it, or cut it out.
If you find out when you work with a photo that it needs to be cropped because there is excess on the edges or there are other unwanted details that you need to get rid of, use the Frame tool to do so. It adds a frame to the canvas that you can edit by modifying the active area. Pressing Enter deletes everything outside the frame.
The “Frame” function is designed to fill the selected area with another frame. In the following screenshot, you can see that the example uses a circle with the ocean inside it, and the edges are perfect and nothing is sticking out. This is done by using this tool to first select the area for the placeholder, and then move the frame there. It’s literally done in one minute.
Try it, and I’m sure you’ll get it right the first time.
The graphics editor provides another interesting tool – “Pipette”. It is designed to take a color sample from an image. It comes in handy when you want to paint a certain area in the color you want, but can’t select it on the palette. Then temporarily move the image with the desired color to the canvas, select the dropper and click the left mouse button in the desired area. You’ll immediately see the exact same shade selected in the palette.
I’m going to skip the Dot Restoration Brush tool and talk about it along with another similar tool, as they are often used in the same circumstances – when processing photos, replacing one object with another, copying or deleting it altogether. Now let’s dwell on brushes, of which there are a huge number in Photoshop.
It’s clear that they are designed for painting, and almost everyone knows how to control them, because at least once worked in Paint. In the toolbar at the top, which I mentioned earlier, you can choose the type of brush, its size, drawing mode, opacity and pressure, which will be very useful for the owners of graphics tablets that are drawing in Photoshop from scratch. By the way, additional brush settings appear when you right-click in any area of the canvas. This way, too, you can quickly adjust its size, hardness, and type.
“Stamp” is exactly the tool I want to combine in one block with the “Dot Restoration Brush”. The former is designed to copy pixels from one area of the image to another. That is, you need to press ALT + LCM (click on the desired area), then it can paint in another area of the image, cloning or painting over the area in the same color, eliminating problem areas of the face or replacing objects in the picture.
The restoring brush should be swept over the area to be replaced. That is, the object will be painted in the color that is next to it. This is how you can remove moles or pigments on the face, make the sky clearer in the photo or get rid of other small details that are on a homogeneous background.
After applying the previous tools, you may need the “Archive Brush”. It restores the previous state of the fragment selected with it, that is, it removes all sketches, overlays, or replaced objects, returning the layer to its default state.
The “Eraser” works a little differently and comes in three types. The first type just makes the pixels transparent, the second is designed to paint them into the background color, and the third allows you to smartly remove an object. It finds contours and erases them completely, leaving other objects behind. One of the most popular uses of this tool is to remove the monochrome background on which the object is located.
“Text” is also used quite often, since Photoshop allows not only to draw or process photos, but also to engage in graphic design, make presentations, layout mockups and other projects where inscriptions are necessarily present. All fonts installed in the OS are picked up automatically, a new layer with text is created, and all the basic settings you’ll see on the top panel. After selecting the tool, click in an arbitrary area and start typing text. If it’s already created but needs editing, first select it and then change the parameters.
Separately, let’s talk about choosing geometric shapes. In Photoshop, there are five, but each can be edited with points so that a new, unique figure is created. Most often, drawing them is just what you need for presentations. Use the “Properties” window after selecting an object to make it transparent and leave only the outline, or make other changes I’ve already talked about when parsing this window.
Examples of Photoshop operations
Of course, the format of one article does not imply teaching Photoshop in its entirety, since there are thousands of different actions that can be performed in it. As examples, I’ll give you just two, I think, basic actions, and you, based on their examples, will be able to start working with your projects or at least understand in what direction you should move when studying this program.
Using overlay options
Above, I told you how to create an inscription, so I’ll use it as an example to show you how the blending options work that apply to individual layers with different objects. This can be any shape, text, or even a photo.
To start, find the layer you want in the corresponding window and right-click on it.
From the context menu that appears, choose the first item – “Blending Options”.
This will open the “Layer Style” window, which contains all the available options. Their names are already clear, so I won’t describe each style in detail. Check the one you want to activate, and then click on its line to see the additional options.
As an example, let’s take “Shadow”. You can adjust the blending mode for it, set the transparency level, offset, size and span, and add noise.
In the following screenshot, you can see how the shadow is applied after making the settings. This is also how it will appear when you work with other shapes.
I also added an external stroke, set a different color for it and it turned out this.
This is the most trivial and simple example. With the overlay options, you can add glow, gloss or change the color of the shape, even adding gradients. All this is done through the described menu “Layer Style”.
The retouching of photographs in Photoshop is a complicated process that requires special knowledge and understanding of how the picture should look in the end. I will show you one setting that you can take as an example and see for yourself how it changes the look of a photo.
Use the familiar “Picture” top panel item, thereby bringing up the list of available options. I’ll edit the curves a bit with the corresponding option under “Correction”. If you think the image is too bright or lacks contrast, choose other settings and adjust them with the sliders.
In the new window, I’ll select the “RGB” color channel and decrease the green a bit, since the graph shows that it’s the most. Refer to it to see what colors are represented in the image and if any of them need to be cranked up even more.
Saving the project
I will tell you how to save your project after you finish work, so that you can open it later and make changes. To do this, follow a simple algorithm:
Open the familiar “File” menu and choose “Save As”. If you use just “Save”, the project will be saved in PSD format. You can choose any location on your computer for it.
When you open the Explorer window, set the file name and choose the appropriate format for it from the drop-down list. It depends on the purpose for which the project was created.
Note that if you select JPG or other file formats, the next time you open the file in Photoshop, the layers will not appear and will be unavailable for editing. To avoid that, use the proprietary PSD format.
As part of this article, you learned how Photoshop works and what features it has. Of course, we can’t call this article a universal manual, because I have only described the most important moments that are used when interacting with this product. All other information I suggest drawing from reputable sources or even books that describe how to work with the program.