15 Shockingly Useful Tips & Tricks For Photoshop – Photoshop Tutorial

We will talk about some essential time-saving and helpful tips and tricks for using Photoshop. Whether you are a graphic designer, photographer, or digital artist, these tips and tricks will help you use Photoshop more effectively in all kinds of ways.

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I cover exporting graphics and fixing a weird export problem that Photoshop has. I talk about creating intricate masks quickly in a variety of ways. I talk about dodging and burning, smart objects, non-destructive editing, hotkeys, opacity and layer control, doing math, 16-bit image power, gradients, and much more!

Envato images used in this tutorial:
Guy at computer retouching: https://1.envato.market/YgAR7e
Synthwave style album cover: https://1.envato.market/MXqA7M
Models posing in skirts: https://1.envato.market/mgKOY7
Old man fishing by the sea: https://1.envato.market/x9KLYx

Tip 1: Lines in a mask with Dodge/Burn

Use Screen/Multiply Curves layers.
Fill the masks with black.
Paint with a hard-edged white brush to reveal lines of brighten/darken.
Use the feather slider in the Properties panel for the mask to blend it all together.
Use multiple Curves layers if needed.

Tip 2: Rotate tool sticky hotkey

One of my favorite little hotkey tricks that I use when I am retouching is the sticky rotate button.
Press and hold the letter “R” and whatever tool you are using will switch to the Rotate tool only as long as you hold down the letter “R”
You can rotate your image a little to get the perfect angle and let go to get right back to retouching.
NOTE: Sticky hotkeys work with every tool in Photoshop.

Tip 3: Change opacity with hotkeys and hidden sliders

You can press any number at any time to set that layer to a different opacity. 5 = 50% opacity. 5–5 = 55% opacity. 0 = 100% opacity.
Hold down Shift + a number to adjust the Fill opacity.
When you have a tool selected that has an opacity, like the Brush tool, Photoshop will change the opacity or flow of that tool rather than the selected layer. Change to a tool like the Move tool if you want to adjust the layer opacity.
You can also click and drag the word “Opacity” or the word next to any scrubby slider in Photoshop’s interface and you can adjust the opacity as you like.
Bonus: hold down the Shift key while scrubbing this slider to speed it up, or hold down the Alt/Opt key to slow it down to dial in the perfect opacity adjustment.

Tip 4: Adjustments on Smart Objects are always editable

(You want to apply adjustment layers, but don’t want to clip all of them to the layer. Convert to Smart Object and apply adjustments. Control of blend mode and opacity still available.)
Dump yellows and greens from the gallery of images and show how you can still get in and make more adjustments. Convert any layer to a Smart Object and apply an adjustment from the Image>Adjustments menu like you would to any “regular” layer. This adjustment will be attached to the layer and you can always access it in the Layers panel to edit and adjust the adjustment later on.

Tip 5: Merge Selected Layers to a New Layer

Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + Alt/Opt + E to merge all visible layers to a new layer.
If the top layer is not visible, create a new layer and when you merge, they will all merge into this new blank layer.
You can all merge only the selected layers to a new layer by selecting the layers and hitting Cmd/Ctrl + Alt/Opt + E

Tip 6: Export Images, export layers, export transparent images without trimming

Export the entire image by going File>Export>Export As. Choose your format, and quality, and make sizing changes, etc…
Export a single layer by right-clicking that layer and choosing “Export As…”
Export multiple layers as multiple files by selecting multiple layers and right-clicking and choosing to Export As.
Export multiple layers as one file by first grouping the layers in the Layers panel and then right-clicking on the layer group and choosing to Export As.
Export and use Canvas size for things like icons that might all need to be in a 100x100px square.
Export multiple sizes of the same image using the sizing drop down menu on the left of this export window.
Export a layer while retaining the transparency at original size by using Canvas size as well, but with a little bit of a wrinkle. Hide all layers except the one or ones that you want to export. Go File>Export>Export as and make sure that the Canvas size is set to the actual size of your image. Now you can export the image or graphics and keep them exactly where you placed them in Photoshop while getting the transparent background all around.

Tip 7: Rotating Clone Stamp or Healing Brush

Open the Clone Source panel by going Window>Clone Source and use the rotation input to adjust the tilt on the brush head and clone.

Tip 8: Do Math In the Inputs

In nearly every input field I have found in Photoshop, you are able to use the “+” or the “-” or the “*” or the “/” buttons for adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing numbers.

Tip 9: Target More Specific Color Ranges with Hue/Saturation Adjustment

Add a Hue/Sat adjustment layer and change the lavender to a red flowering plant.
You do this by selecting a color channel to target in the drop-down menu in this adjustment layer panel.
When you have targeted a color channel, you will see little sliders appear on the hue/color bar in this adjustment layer’s panel.
Drag these sliders in or out to extend the amount of this or that color which will be targeted by the color change you are making with this adjustment layer.
You can really dial into specific color ranges and make big or small color change to complex shapes quickly, as long as they all fall within the range of color you have targeted.

Tip 10: Curves with Luminosity Blend Mode & The Color Blend Mode

Add a Curves adjustment layer and set it to Luminosity.
Play with the contrast in the RGB channel and in each of the color channels.
Compare the difference between this newly toned image and what it looks like in the Normal blend mode.
I do the same with a Color blend mode in the video and you can see how playing with different adjustment layers while only targeting the luminosity or color of a layer can be extremely useful and helpful.

Tip 11: Ultra-Complex Masks with Blend If

Add a Curves adjustment layer and boost light, contrast, and color of the light bouncing off the main rock.
Rough mask it in with a soft brush.
Use the Blend If sliders to constrain it more tightly to the rock face.
Create a Color Fill layer of a warm CTO-style orange. Set to Soft Light.
Rough mask this in and use the Blend If sliders again.

Tip 12: Convert a Colored Object to White

Overlay this pattern: https://unsplash.com/photos/Bin0C2RtQpI
Use Color Range to select her dress.
Use a Gradient Map adjustment layer to convert the color to white or very light gray while retaining shadows.
Drag in the pattern and mask it into place.
Multiply blend mode. Use the blend if sliders on the top white slider to bring back color and light.
Adjust the gradient map to make the perfect blend.

Tip 13: Powerful 16-Bit Images are Better Than 8-Bit Images

Create a 16-bit new PSD 3840×2160 pixels.
Use a foreground to transparent radial gradient and make a big smooth color graphic.
Duplicate the file and convert it to 8-bit.
Boost saturation and contrast.
Copy those adjustment layers to the 8-bit document.
Zoom in to 100% and see the difference in banding.

Tip 14: Perceptual Gradient Style to get rid of Muddiness

Get the Gradient tool set to an ultra-bright red to a cyan/light blue.
Show the three gradient methods that Photoshop can use.
Classic gradient works, but has the most difficulty blending between harsh colors.
Linear gives a pretty good blend and will be the bst options depending on the colors in your gradient.
Perceptive is the new and powerful version of this gradient tool. This will be the mode of building gradients that will give you the best results with the most different colors.
Better, brighter, more seamless gradients!

Tip 15: Paint Selections FAST with Quick Mask Mode

Hit the letter “Q” to enter Quick Mask mode.
Use Quick Mask mode with a large, soft-edged brush to paint over the tree on the left side of the street.
Hit “Q” to load the selection.
Use a Curves Adjustment layer to add green and balance the colors.
Darken the tree and boost contrast as well.
Add a Vibrance layer to reduce saturation if needed.

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