Photoshop is a powerful program with an endless number of ways to design what you need. Although the program itself is user-friendly and the basics are fairly intuitive, there are a lot of neat tricks and tips that will help your overall workflow. Before we begin, make sure the layer you are adjusting does not have the lock on it, otherwise many of these tools won’t work correctly.
1.Hot Keys are Essential
You would not believe the amount of time saved by not having to drag your cursor to the tools panel. Instead of repeatedly trying to locate the type text, path selection or magic wand tools, there are hot keys for every single one that you could use instead. It also helps you when you need to copy, paste, cut or save. Here’s a list of just some of the most commonly used hot keys (if you are using a mac, replace Ctrl (control) with ⌘ (command):
- Copy: Ctrl + C
- Paste: Ctrl + V
- Cut: Ctrl + X
- Deselect: Ctrl + D
- Undo/Redo: Ctrl + Z
- Undo multiple times: Ctrl + Alt + Z
- Create new project: Ctrl + N
- Save: Ctrl + S
- Move tool: V
- Brush tool: B
- Crop tool: C
- Path Selection Tool: A
- Eraser Tool: E
- Paint Bucket: G
- Type Tool: T
If there is a tool or command you use frequently that doesn’t have a shortcut, you can create one by going to Edit—Keyboard Shortcuts. You can also find or change shortcuts.
2. Cut Out Any Object
There are a lot of ways that you can cut an object out of its background, but my personal favorite is with the pen tool. It can be time consuming if there are a lot of curves, but it’s well worth it if you want a clean cut out. To do this, go to the pen tool (P) and start creating an outline of the object you want to cut out. Once you have a solid outline around it and you connect the first and last pen points to cut off your line, left-click on ‘Selection’ in the top left bar of your work space. This will bring up a new window where you can adjust the feather radius. For a clean cut, make sure that’s at 0. Once you hit ‘OK,’ your selection should have moving dashes around it, informing you that you can now interact with that selection. You can now copy, cut or delete that selection. You can also invert the selection by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I. This will select the rest of the image and deselect your original selection.
3. Magic Wand Tool
Let’s say you need to cut out a logo from a solid background. Instead of going through all the effort to manually cut them out using the pen tool, you can use the magic wand tool (W) to do it for you. This tool is found with the Quick Selection Tool, so if the hotkey isn’t bringing it up, you will need to go switch it manually from the Quick Selection Tool. This tool is great when it comes to cutting things out with solid backgrounds. It will select everything that matches the color you click on, so if you are cutting out a logo from a solid background, it will cut it out within seconds. Again, if you want to invert your selection, press Ctrl + Shift + I. This tool is only useful when there are solid colors though, if the image contains a variety of shades of one color, it won’t work nearly as well.
4. Clone Stamp Tool
This frequently comes in handy for us when we are working with client projects. The clone stamp tool (S) essentially allows you to duplicate any part of an image. You pick an area on the image that becomes the sampling point and will be used as a reference to create a new cloned area. We use it a lot when editing product photos. Oftentimes you want to duplicate a specific piece of the image into another spot. The clone stamp tool is perfect for this. To use this tool, find the area that you want to duplicate and hold Alt + Left-click to copy that selection. Use the left and right brackets on your keyboard ([ or ]) to grow or shrink your brush size (this works anytime you are using a brush). Once it’s selected, you can essentially paint in your selection. Left-click and draw where you want the cloned image to appear. As you draw, a cross will appear on the original image while a corresponding circle appears where you are drawing.
5. Taking Advantage of Adjustment Layers
Oftentimes when you are editing an image, you are messing with the colors, highlights, and hues of the image. If you alter these and decide you don’t like the alterations, you may end up losing the original image. One way you can avoid this is by creating an adjustment layer. To do this, click on the adjustment/fill button at the bottom of your layers panel. This creates a layer on top of the original image that allows you to alter the image as much as you’d like, but also keeps the original layer from being touched. It’s a great habit to make so you don’t mess up your project.
6. Birds Eye View
When you’re working with a lot of detail on a photo, you may be zoomed in to a particular spot. That is great for working on detail, but it prevents you from seeing the project as a whole. A quick way to jump back and forth between these views is by holding down the ‘H’ key and left-clicking. This will bring up a full view of your project. This shortcut also brings up the option to quickly zoom in on another point in the project. When holding the ‘H’ key and left-clicking, you can move your cursor to the place where you want to zoom into. The area you’ll be zooming into will have a box around it.
7. View One Layer at A Time
Some projects become pretty complex with a number of layers being created to get the effects that you need. Sometimes when this happens, you need to just focus on one layer alone. Instead of going through and manually hiding all the other layers, there’s an easy shortcut that will do it for you. Simply hold down Alt + Left-click on the eye icon on the layer you want to see. This will automatically turn off the other layers. When you’re ready to view them all together again, just hold Alt + Left-click on that same eye icon again and they will reappear.
With such a powerful application, there’s no limit to the amazing things you can create. Just don’t waste your time with old habits when quicker techniques exist. Now get out there and start creating something amazing!