It’s Photoshop! The application we love to hate and today I want to give you a list of what I think are the ten best and ten worst things about Photoshop. These will be anything from tools, features, the way Photoshop works, to user experience and technical aspects of Photoshop. I’ll try to cover features in the best and worst parts of this tutorial that will be useful for you to know about when you’re using Photoshop. DISCLAIMER: This tutorial was recorded/written when Photoshop CC 2015.5 was the newest version of Photoshop. Maybe Adobe will have corrected some of these things when you view the tutorial. At least we can hope for that.
I am trying to find a happy balance between things that I love/hate as both a photographer and designer/web guy. Let me know what you think!
I have long contended that this is the most powerful feature in all of Photoshop.
Check out my tutorial on Curves here to see the full power of this amazing feature set.
You can convert any layer in your Photoshop document to a Smart Object by right clicking on the layer and choosing “Convert to Smart Object”.
This will take whatever is on that layer (or multiple layers if you select more than one layer) and wrap it up into an object which will allow you to scale it with more flexibility, apply smart filters which you can edit later on, and much more!
Check out my tutorial on Smart Objects here!
Adjustment layers are the epitome of non-destructive editing, but they also allow you to edit the smart objects that we checked out before without having to get into them and edit the pixels.
The Pen tool is just about the most powerful and precise selection tool and shape drawing tool in Photoshop.
Check out my five-part tutorial series on this tool right here. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5.
After spending time to create a complex selection, you can save that selection and preserve all of the work that you did by right-clicking within the selection and choosing “Save Selection”. This will save your selection as a new channel. Go to the Channels panel and Cmd/Ctrl + click the channel thumbnail to load that selection.
Masking is the non-destructive way to erase parts of any layer or hide the effect of an Adjustment Layer for part of the image beneath that image. This is a must-know feature for any Photoshop user!
Quick Mask Mode
Use this mode to be able to paint a selection. The hotkey to enter Quick Mask Mode is by hitting the letter “Q”.
Double click the quick mask icon and choose “Selected Areas” to be able to paint where you want the actual selection using the Brush tool and a foreground color of black.
Rotate View Tool
Use this tool to quickly shift your view point of the image, but not actually rotate your image. This will allow you to get the best positioning as you use the brush tool for something like dodging and burning, or maybe something like masking or painting a selection with the quick mask mode. Press the letter “R” to enter the Rotatea View mode.
Turn this on by ticking the checkbox in Preferences>Tools.
Use this for when you still want to move your image around, but you’re already zoomed out.
Smart Guides & The Pixel Grid & Snapping
Smart guides are amazing because they continually give you a heads up display of metrics surrounding the object you’re working with in Photoshop. Things like edge alignment, pixels moved, sizing, and alignment. I love Smart Guides and think they are a big time-saving feature in Photoshop.
There is also a Pixel Grid which is available by going View>Show>Pixel Grid. It will appear when you zoom in very close to your image and it will allow you to snap your shapes or objects very exactly down to the pixel.
BONUS: Close All (Apply don’t save to all)
This feature will allow you to close multiple documents and avoid clicking “Don’t Save” dozens of times. Huge time-saver!
Default Styles, Gradients, and most default things
Just about every default swatch or style in Photoshop is horrendous. The solution to this would be to create your own layer styles, create your own gradient swatches, and just about all the defaults that you can change.
Non-Scaling Layer Styles
You need to take note of the percentage as you scale any object which has Layer Styles applied to it because after you scale the object, you need to go Layer>Layer Styles>Scale Effects in order to scale up your effects with the object that you just made larger or smaller.
Magnetic Lasso Tool
Not much to say about this. Don’t use it. Remove it from your toolbar using the customize toolbar feature new to Photoshop CC 2015.
Content-Aware Move Tool
This tool just never seems to work as it should. Use clone stamp tool and blend edges manually when you need to move an object. It tends to be less frustrating.
Check out my full tutorial on the Content-Aware Move tool right here.
Reshuffling Open Files Along Tab Bar
When you have multiple files open in Photoshop, reshuffling the order of these tabs is difficult because if you drag away from the tab bar too much the image breaks out into its own window.
Browse in Bridge Button
Accidentally hitting the File>Browse in Bridge button usually means that you’re in for an annoying time of working and trying to close Adobe Bridge (which is dreadfully slow!) There are some amazing things that Adobe Bridge has to offer, but over the past few years the program has gotten more and more bloated and the Bridge I used to love is a royal pain-in-the-neck now.
You can go Edit>Menus and remove this button from your menu if it really gets annoying.
No good way to measure beside the Rectangular Marquee
You can turn on smart guides and quickly see pixel width between objects.
You can try using the measurement tool, but it is very difficult to get a pixel-perfect measurement.
Make sure your unit of measure is the pixel by going Preferences>Units & Rulers and change the Units drop-down to the unit of measure you wish to use.
Copy CSS = Dreadful
Code from Photoshop has always been dreadful. Heck, code from Dreamweaver has always been dreadful. Friends don’t let friends export code from Photoshop.
Take six weeks and invest time in learning how to write code. You will love yourself for doing it.
New Save for Web Location. Painfully Long Hotkey.
Give it a keyboard shortcut that doesn’t feel like you’re playing twister with your fingers every time you need to use it.
Terrible for UI Designers
Use Sketch, or start using Adobe XD (Experience Design CC)
BONUS: Actions Panel UI is Difficult and Archaic
It would be nice if Adobe could figure out a more intuitive and elegant solution for this. The Actions panel feels like it’s stuck in Photoshop version 7.
DOUBLE BONUS: Photoshop “Start” Menu
You can revert to the simple gray background by going Preferences>General and ticking off the “Show ‘Start’ Workspace When No Documents Are Open.”
Leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite and least favorite thing(s) about Photoshop are!
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