How did you learn Photoshop

How to learn Photoshop

Photoshop is the biggest name in photo editing, but it has a reputation for being a complicated and difficult app to use. While it's sure to be crowded, figuring out the hang of it is nowhere near as difficult as it appears at first glance. Let's look at how to learn Photoshop without getting stuck in the weeds.

Decide what you want to use Photoshop for

Although Photoshop is a single app, it is more versatile. It's used by designers, developers, photographers, and pretty much anyone else you can think of in any visually creative field. The number of tools and features is insane and incredibly intimidating, but in reality, you only need to learn a portion of them for each task. If you just want to edit images, you can (at least initially) ignore tons of things related to paths, shapes, vectors, and the like. If you're into design, you don't need any of the photo-specific things.

When you start out, decide what you want or need to use Photoshop for. You should also consider whether this is really the app you should be learning about. There are great alternatives. For image manipulation in particular, Photoshop Lightroom is a better tool unless you have serious pixels to move around.

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When you've decided to learn Photoshop and know how to use it, let's dive in.

Learn the basics for everyone

While you don't have to learn everything in Photoshop, it helps to familiarize yourself with the basics, which apply to just about any use. We have an eight part series that introduces you to Photoshop, the layout of the app, and some of the basic tools. It was written for CS5, a predecessor to the current Creative Cloud app, but is still relevant.

  • Part 1: The Toolbox
  • Part 2: basic panels
  • Part 3: Introduction to Levels
  • Part 4: Basic Menus
  • Part 5: Photo Editing for Beginners
  • Part 6: Digital Art
  • Part 7: Design and Typography
  • Part 8: Filters

The first four tutorials are the most important. So start with them. The second four just give you an idea of ​​how you can use Photoshop.

After that, be sure to check out our deeper dive into layers and layer masks. They make up a huge part of Photoshop as most of the users now perform basic editing functions in other apps.

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If you prefer to watch videos, we highly recommend Deke McClelland at Lynda.com. I personally learned how to use Photoshop in his courses. If you have the time, dive into Photoshop CC 2018 One-on-One: Basics. At 16+ hours, it's a monster, but it covers everything you need to know. There are even two equally long follow-up courses that will make you a Photoshop master if you use the time.

Basic Training for Photoshop CC 2018: The basics are also a good place to start, with less than five hours. We really like Lynda's courses because they are well organized and professionally produced. They get one month free so you can try them out for yourself.

Learn to use Photoshop for image manipulation

Once you understand the basics, it's time to start digging into the specifics of what you want to learn. If you're into photography, start with my guide on how to enhance almost any digital photo. This tutorial will walk you through a complete workflow that I use regularly when editing my images.

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You also need to learn how to use fit planes, and in particular how to use curves in fit planes. These are the tools you will use to edit your images the most.

The next step is to choose a few things that you want to do with your images and learn how to use the appropriate tools for the job. Check out some or all of:

  • Remove photo bombers and other objects from a photo in Photoshop
  • How to remove acne and other blemishes in Photoshop
  • How to make more precise selections with Photoshop Select and Mask
  • How to add falling snow to your photos using Photoshop
  • How to fix red eye in Photoshop

Each of these articles describes how to perform a single task. If you can't find what you want to do on our website, you can search either Google or YouTube for instructions.

At Lynda, I'd recommend checking out Chris Orwig's Photoshop CC 2017 for Photographers. It covers most of the common techniques that photographers need.

Learn to use Photoshop for design work

If you're more into design or digital art than photography, then you should first learn to tell the difference between pixels and vectors and then master the pen tool. They form the core of a lot of design work.

CONNECTED:Using and Mastering the Notoriously Difficult Pen Tool in Photoshop

We don't actually have a lot of Photoshop coverage specifically focused on the design work at How-To Geek (most of our Photoshop writers come from photography). So we'll be looking at Lynda.com again.

Basic training for Photoshop CC 2018: The design ties in with the basic course I previously recommended. Most of the design tools are introduced and how they fit into a workflow.

I'm a big fan of Nigel French. He has a ton of different courses ranging from textures to textures. Go through some of his courses that pique your interest and you will be committed.


Once you get past the basics, learning Photoshopbecomes a lot easier. Since you understand Photoshop's tools and how it works in general, you can quickly determine which techniques you're missing and choose them from a few YouTube videos or a Lynda course. It's got to the point where the job is done, but just follow these instructions and you will be able to do it.

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