Photoshop is a wonderful application: with its help, even a beginner graphic designer can do everything, at least in theory. After the first stage of euphoria, however, the inevitable stage of frustration appears. How to get to know all of the program’s capabilities (not to mention mastering them) and then to choose the most useful ones?
Experts on the subject claim that many years are needed to fully master Photoshop and that, as a matter of fact, it’s a “never-ending story.” Fortunately, there are a few simple ways of making your learning more effective.
Don’t expect that “exercises” given by us will help you save weeks of learning and practicing the program by means of trial and error. However, they can facilitate your learning process and save you unnecessary stress.
How to master Photoshop
One of the advantages of Photoshop is that combined with your creativity it enables you to create any graphics. It can take you a lot of time to figure out how to use this huge potential in a creative way.
1. Phtoshop keybord shortcuts
Photoshop offers dozens of functions – searching for each of them on bars can take you a lot of time so you’d better learn from the beginning how to use keyboard shortcuts.
With their help, you won’t tear yourself away from work to find a specific icon and you will make Photoshop become more intuitive. Brush? B for brush. Cropping? C for cropping. A new layer? Command/Ctrl+Shift+N.
In our blog entry with hints for graphic designers, you’ll find Photoshop keyboard shortcuts that may be useful to you. Print them and put in a visible place on the desk. Glance at the list while working in the program and you’ll quickly remember the most important key combinations!
Note that if a given tool that you often use doesn’t have its shortcut, you can always create it.
2. Try out different ways of achieving the same effect
Photoshop is a toy for inquisitive and creative people: almost everything in it can be done in several different ways. Different tools can also be used to achieve the same results but in a different manner.
So, to sharpen a photo you can use either a filter or the Smart Sharpen layer. How about using actions?
If you have just started getting to know possibilities offered by Photoshop, beware of the mistake that many beginners make. It’s great that you know the functioning of one tool that works well in most cases. But now try finding a way to achieve the same result using different tools, effects, and filters. Try hard to understand how they work and what their real potential is.
Test various tools and don’t be afraid to experiment. If you do it, there will be less and less “blank spots” for you in Photoshop. Your goal is to change the attitude from “how to do it” to “what do I want to achieve,” without any restrictions causing that you don’t know which tool to use.
3. Watch experts
Many beginner graphic designers limit themselves to watching basic tutorials and courses for beginners, and after mastering the basics they forget that it’s just the first step and that they can keep learning.
Watching videos in which masters of Photoshop reveal secrets of their set of skills and tools can help you with that. You can see the tools they use and, above all, when they use them. Gaining such knowledge means that you know nuances of Photoshop really well and you are aware of what and when to apply.
Don’t hesitate to watch courses that are far more advanced than your current level of skills. You don’t have to copy or imitate “teachers.” Concentrate on their set of skills, techniques, and tools.
4. Don’t be deceived by the first impression
How many times has it happened that you were delighted with the results of your work, but when you left the computer and came back you became severely disappointed with them?
If it’s your standard practice – congratulations, you’re on a good way to achieve mastery of using Photoshop. The worst thing you can do is to finish a project and show it to the world (or a customer) before you enter the phase in which you take a critical look at it.
It’s natural that while working you lose your distance to what you’re doing. Then it’s easy to overdo things: add too much contrast, sharpen something excessively or use exaggerated colors… Working in such a way you’ll probably achieve something that resembles a clichéd project instead of a tasteful one.
5. Be careful when editing images
A great advantage of Photoshop is that it enables you to edit images without saving changes in the source file; instead, the program saves all the modifications entered and allows you to undo them.
Make use of this type of editing: for example, instead of applying changes directly in the image, apply them in the layers. Acting this way, if a given element being edited doesn’t really work, you will be able to remove a layer or work on it until you achieve desired results, without spoiling previous effects.
Learning Photoshop for Freelancers – summary
Consistency and time are the most important factors in learning Photoshop – it resembles a little bit of developing new habits. You won’t learn all the keyboard shortcuts in just one evening and you won’t understand straight away why more advanced users apply solutions that are seemingly more difficult.
However, your learning will pay off in time and you’ll notice that you don’t start your project considering if you have a proper tool to achieve a given effect but you’ll begin it thinking about a result you want to attain.