©Shannon Squires-Toews

5 Photoshop Tips

Adobe Photoshop can seem huge and overwhelming, but don’t be intimidated to try new things with the program as you’re editing, says Shannon Squires-Toews, M.Photog.M.Artist.Cr., CPP.

  1. Focus on learning the tool rather than learning a process. “So often, we want to watch one instructor and learn how they do something specific, focusing on the step-by-step,” says Squires-Toews. “Stop doing that. Instead, focus on the function of the tools they are using. This way, when you run into a challenge in Photoshop, you know many ways to address the challenge because you know what the tools can do for you.”
  2. Don’t neglect blending modes. Found both in the layer setting and the brush setting, they’re powerful features, says Squires-Toews. Her go-to blending modes are Multiply, Screen, Soft Light, and Overlay.
  3. Customize your workspace. Hiding features and tools that don’t apply to your style makes it easy to access the tools and features that are most important to you. For example, Squires-Toews never uses the pen tool, so she hides it. To customize your tool bar, navigate to the bottom of it, right click, then click Edit Toolbar. The same applies to any window you want open while you work. To edit windows, navigate to the window tab at the top of Photoshop, click the dropdown window, and add a checkmark to each window you’d like visible in your workspace.
  4. Name your layers and create layer groups. “I will be the first to admit that sometimes I get carried away in my art and I forget this step. However, when you are 112-plus layers into a composite, it sure is a time saver.”
  5. Have fun. Don’t be afraid to play and make mistakes. “You might just stumble onto a process that makes your work stand out among the masses,” she says. 

Amanda Arnold is a senior editor.