Guide to 30 Photoshop CC Tools & Features You Need to Know

These are 30 of the tools and features in Photoshop that I think are the most important! In this Photoshop CC tutorial, we’ll cover everything from how to use the Pen Tool in Photoshop and how you can learn to use Curves to Masking, Retouching Skin, and even playing with the newer Select and Mask functionality. There is so much that is covered in this video and I also go off script quite a bit and dabble with features that aren’t even included in the description of video guide (located in the comments section.) I created this tutorial as more of a beginner level overview of these tools and functions of Photoshop, but my hope is that there is something here for Photoshop users of all skill levels. Here I have a list of the features and tools covered in the video above. Enjoy!

Color Balance: Make dramatic color changes with one of the easiest and most satisfying of the Adjustment Layers in Photoshop is the Color Balance Adjustment Layer.

Masking: This is one of the most important features in Photoshop. Masking lets you cover or show parts of a layer. The white you paint in the mask will show, the areas you cover with black will be hidden.

Quick Selection Tool: This tool allows you to click and drag over an area to quickly select it.

Quick Mask Tool: Enter Quick Mask mode and you can use the Brush tool to simply paint a selection over an area that you wish to select without being constrained in the way that Quick Selection tool constrains you.

Content-Aware Fill: Once you have a selection, you can go Edit>Fill and choose “Content Aware” from the drop down menu and Photoshop will work its magic to create a (usually) amazing fill that matches what should be there.

Clone Stamp Tool: When the Content Aware Fill isn’t quite right, you can use the Clone Stamp tool to clean things up. Hold Alt/Opt to sample an area of the image and simply paint to copy/clone the sampled bit over to where you’re painting.

The Patch Tool: Use this tool to select a blemish in your photo and simply drag the blemish to a good area of the photo and the Patch tool will work its magic.

How to use Levels: This is an important feature. We’ll talk about using Levels to quickly adjust the tone and contrast of an image. PRO TIP: You can also adjust colors with Levels, but that’s for a different tutorial.

The Pen Tool: One of the most complex and sought-after tools in Photoshop, the Pen tool allows you to create very precise, very complex selections that you can come back to later on and refine or edit. This tool is a must-learn tool.

Flames Filter: This is a new filter included in Photoshop CC. Once you create a path, you can add flames along that path and this filter allows you to customize the flame you create to an astounding degree.

The Type Tool: This one is pretty straight forward, use this tool to create and edit text in your document.

TypeKit Fonts: TypeKit is a massive library of high-quality fonts that you can download directly into Photoshop with one-click. TypeKit is a free addition to most levels of Creative Cloud membership.

Using & Working with Guides: Guides are amazing and getting them is as easy as turning on your rulers and dragging out a guide.

Smart Objects: Bundle up any layer(s) into a Smart Object to preserve the quality of them and also allow Smart Filters to be used with them. A very powerful feature of Photoshop.

Field Blur: This is a blur that allows you to place pins around your image and base the amount of blur that any given part of your image will receive. Use this as a Smart Filter for additional flexibility.

How to use Curves: This is my favorite feature in all of Photoshop. Curves is the go-to tool for all tonal and color related changes. Whether you want to reduce contrast or just do some color-correcting, you can do it all with Curves.

The Eyedropper Tool: Learn some tips and tricks for using the Eyedropper tool to select colors in and out of Photoshop.

Import Color Themes with Adobe Color: Learn to use the powerful and very useful Adobe Color to instantly import color schemes to your document.

BONUS: Gradient Maps: Gradient maps can be fun and they allow you to create black and white images, adjust the color, or adjust the contrast of an image or graphic in a very unique way.

How to Create an Action: Want to save time while using Photoshop? Or do you do the same thing over and over again in Photoshop? Actions are exactly what you need. Actions make Photoshop work for YOU.

The Crop Tool: The Crop tool is one of those tools that you don’t realize how useful it is until you really start using it.

Colorize Live Shapes: Change the color of live, vector shapes or type layers in Photoshop with a single click.

Convert Objects to 3D/Working with 3D: Learn the ropes of converting and creating 3D objects in Photoshop.

Custom Workspaces: Make Photoshop feel a little more like home with custom workspaces.

The Camera RAW Filter: An amazing and powerful toolset at your finger tips for any layer in Photoshop (not just photos!)

Exporting Images and Graphics: Use the Export As dialog or the legacy Save for Web dialog to export any PSD as a number of different graphics at different sizes.

BONUS: Changing the UI Background Color: With a simple right-click, you can change the color of the background around your working area in Photoshop.

Color Range: Go Select>Color Range and use the eye dropper to create a selection based upon a color within your image (i.e. select all the green in a photo) and then refine and increase or decrease that selection.

Select and Mask: This is a newer feature in Photoshop that allows you to create and refine selections. It’s a bit of a work in progress at the moment, but it has some promise for the future.

Liquify: This is the tool that gets all the bad press. Use it to change the shape, size, and figure of an object or person in your photos. It’s pretty powerful.

The Healing Brush: This tool allows you to clone like the Clone Stamp but heals by blending the texture from where you’re healing. This is an amazing tool for removing blemishes from human skin without destroying it.

The Rotate View Tool: You can use this tool to quickly rotate your canvas while working on an image without creating a permanent rotate to your image. Simply press the “Reset View” button to return your image orientation to normal.