So, you’re thinking of learning your way around Photoshop?

It’s a very powerful tool, perfect for:

  • Photo editing & manipulation
  • Digital Art
  • Design for print, web or social media

Well, I’ve spent a bit of time putting this together so you can get a basic idea of how Photoshop works and the most common approaches to using it.

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Here’s the video – an Introduction to Photoshop

I have compiled a video which will walk through and cover a big chunk of what Photoshop is and how it works.

Get comfy, this video goes for over an hour!

I also have some notes below on what I cover in the video, along with a timestamp, so you can skip to particular areas within the video itself.

Watch on YouTube

If you don’t have a copy of Adobe Photoshop, you can sign up for it here.

Don’t forget to check out our Photoshop resource page for more tutorials and information around using Photoshop.

What’s in the video

This video covers a lot and goes for some time – 1 hour and 17 minutes!

So I decided to break things up a little so you could choose to sit and watch the whole thing or skip into certain areas if you wanted to.

So, please see below some information on the various chapters of the video, and I will be adding resources here over time also.

Creating a New Document (1:48)

It’s not as simple as many may think.

Yes, you can go to ‘File’ -> ‘New’, but what is it you need? First of all the size of the image will depend on what you’re looking for.

Social Media images should be in ‘pixels’ and RGB Color. I have a full list of image sizes for social media platforms in this post here. It can give you the sizes you need to get started there.

If you’re working in Print, best to go with mm or inches. Some common sizes (depending on your country) are listed below:

  • A0 841mm X 1189mm
  • A1 594mm X 841mm
  • A2 420mm X 594mm
  • A3 297mm X 420mm
  • A4 210mm X 297mm
  • A5 148mm X 210mm
  • A6 105mm X 148mm
  • Half Letter 5.5 x 8.5 in
  • Letter 8.5 x 11.0 in
  • Legal 8.5 x 14.0 in
  • Junior Legal 5.0 x 8.0 in
  • Ledger / Tabloid 11.0 x 17.0 in

Color for print is a bit more complicated.

If you decide to work on a photo (even if for print), I would still use RGB and convert to CMYK later. But if you are doing some graphic design or printed stationery/flyers I would use CMYK color.

You may also need to be educated on bleed and margins to effectively create print designs in Photoshop or any other design program.

Using the Photoshop Interface

Exploring the Interface & Tools (9:55)

This the part of the video which talks about how the interface of Photoshop is laid out, with the left “point and shoot” toolbar, various dockers and the top tool options being explained and explored.

Some areas covered are:

  • How the tools & layers work (16:30) – more info below
  • How the tools work (26:52)
  • Scale & Rotate (31:42) – See a dedicated video here
  • Importing images & files into an image (33:23)
  • Selection Tools (34:20)
  • Adding & editing text (38:54)
  • Exploring more brushes & tools (49:25)
  • Adjusting color & light (1:00:53)
  • Filters & Effects (1:05:59)

Layers are a very fundamental part of how Photoshop works. With layers, you can essentially lay images over the top of one another and choose different ways to blend them together if necessary. Once you wrap your head around layers, you learn to structure and protect a lot of areas within your photoshop image so they can be more easily edited in the future.

It’s important to get a grasp of layers if you want to use Photoshop effectively.

The rest of the tools will help you to paint and create onto the image/canvas itself. There are few main areas covered (in the dot point list above) that will be the major instruments to opening up the possibilities of what you can achieve with Photoshop.

Cropping & Resizing Images (51:10)

The size of your image is dependent on the canvas (work area) you’re working on within Photoshop. Here you can learn not only how to resize an image but how to crop with various features to make life easier.

This will allow you to take more control over the final file you export from Photoshop to ensure it is set up correctly for whatever purpose you need it for.

‘View’ & ‘Window’ menu options (1:08:56)

In this chapter you can take more control over what toolbars and views are available to you within the Photoshop interface.

‘View’ in top menu is perfect for adjusting what you see of your image/canvas as you work. From zooming in and out, changing properties of the color your monitor displays or even adding guidelines and showing other areas such as rulers or basic toolbars.

‘Window’ is a lot less general and more specific. Here you can turn on or off various toolbars and dockers directly and specifically, one by one. You can also organise the layout of your workspace here as well.

Using ‘History’ (1:11:11)

Photoshop moves beyond the simple ‘Undo’ and ‘Redo’ functionality but adding the history panel to it.

You can go through your history to specific steps in your work and skip hitting ‘undo’ 20 times to get there. You can also take history snapshots and keep them aside for later so you can create a more flexible timeline to explore what you’ve done.

History is a great and convenient feature to help you cover mistakes and issues, especially if you’re proactive with it while you work.

Save for Web in Photoshop

Saving & exporting (1:13:11)

There are two files you need when working in Photoshop:

  • The editable Photoshop file (.PSD)
  • The final file you export and use.

Why? Editable Photoshop files are quite large and not so flexible for use on a website, social media or in print. But it does keep all of your layers and editing capabilities in tact.

So you should always save a Photoshop PSD for later use or editing. Simply go to file and ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ to save a Photoshop PSD you can edit later.

You will then need to Export your file for practical use. This could be a simple JPG or PNG for use on the web or a PDF for printing. There are a massive number of other formats and options you have for exporting your files for use. These files won’t be as easily editable and in most cases flatten your image (removing your layers) making it impossible to open back up and reorganise (that’s why it’s good to keep a PSD as well).

Here are some of the main options for exporting your image:

  • ‘Save’ or ‘Save As’ – pick a format form the drop down and save a copy that way.
  • ‘Export’ -> ‘Quick Export as PNG’ – Quickly save a PNG file, possibly with a transparent background
  • ‘Export’ -> ‘Export As’ – Save as a JPG, PNG, GIF or SVG file with some basic options.
  • ‘Export’ -> ‘Save for Web (legacy)’ – Recommended for compressing files for the web as JPG, PNG, WBMP or Gif (see this video for a full run-through).

Here’s what I recommend for:

  • Web/Social Media – Use a JPG for photos without a transparent background, PNG for a transparent image (or if it ends up smaller than a JPG).
  • Print – a PDF with high quality settings and 300+ dpi or ppi.

The above is what most people will need to work with but as always there are exceptions. ‘Save’/’Save As’ or ‘Export’ have more specific formats available if you need them also.

Now you have the beginner basics.

I recommend spending some time playing around with photoshop.

Come up with some projects and take your time working on them. Also don’t forget to check out our Photoshop resource page for more tutorials and info you can use to further expand your knowledge in using Photoshop.

If you don’t have a copy of Adobe Photoshop, you can sign up for it here.

Otherwise, I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions about Photoshop, leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help.

Have a great day and thanks for dropping by!