Learn Photoshop - quick and easy!

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What is Photoshop?

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Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editing/designing software initially developed by Thomas Knoll and his brother John Knoll in 1987. Later the license to distribute it was purchased by Adobe Systems in September 1988. It is an amazing software with innumerable possibilities in the field of designing. With Photoshop, one can create extravagant images or edit original pictures. Photoshop’s first official version, Photoshop 1.0 was released by Adobe Systems in 1990. Currently the 13th version of Photoshop has been released recently by the company. So, this much is enough for the introductions, let’s quickly begin our tutorial.

This is how you can open a new workspace in Photoshop.
This is how you can open a new workspace in Photoshop.
The two adjustments of the toolbar : the single-column and the double-column, using the arrow on the top of it.
The two adjustments of the toolbar : the single-column and the double-column, using the arrow on the top of it.

Getting started with Adobe Photoshop

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For this tutorial to be helpful for you, you should have any recent version of Photoshop (CS3/version 10 or above). Mine is CS4/version 11. If you have some basic knowledge of Photoshop, then it’s good. But we’ll start from the very beginning, i.e., zero level so that those who don’t know anything about Photoshop can also learn it easily. So, first of all, in order to start working with Photoshop, you should know how to create a workspace. A workspace is where you work on Photoshop. Start Photoshop, on the top left corner of the window (File Menu bar), click on File>New. A small window will appear at the center of the main window with several options and drop-down lists. On the top of the window will be the name of the document, where you can name your document whatever you want to (Default is Untitled-1). Below it is a drop down list ‘Preset’ to decide the dimension of your workspace. There are several pre-defined presets namely, Clipboard, Default Photoshop Size, U.S. Paper, International Paper, Photo, Web, Mobile & Devices, Film & Video and a Custom preset, where you can create your own workspace according to your needs. Below the preset drop down list, are two text spaces in which, the width and height of the workspace is given. You can also enter the width and height manually. On the right side of the width and height text boxes, are two more drop down lists, which give you the options to choose the measurement units for the dimension of the workspace. This drop down list contains several units, namely, Pixels, Inches, Centimeters (cm), Millimeters (mm), Points, and Picas etc. I usually choose Pixels. Apart from these options, there are few more options, including Resolution, Color Mode, Bit size and Background Contents. Normally the resolution is set to 72, but you can increase or decrease it according to your needs; increased resolution gives good quality, but also increases the file size. The color mode preferred in Photoshop is R.G.B., so select R.G.B. from the 'Color Mode' drop-down list, if it is not already selected. Once you choose your desired workspace and click OK at the right bottom of the window, a white area will appear in the central part of the window. This is called the background. Alternatively, you can also choose the background to be transparent or any other background color from the 'Background Content' drop down list at the start-up window, where we chose the dimension of the workspace.

This is the window where you can select and decide the parameters of your workspace.
This is the window where you can select and decide the parameters of your workspace.
This is how the workspace looks like.
This is how the workspace looks like.

Working with the toolbar

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Now, let’s talk something about the toolbar. The toolbar is on the left most side of the main window. It can be adjusted into a single-column strip or a double-column strip from the arrows present above the toolbar. The toolbar is divided into four sections. So, in order to begin, we will start with the first and the last section.

The top most section of the toolbar contains six tools, also known as 'raster graphic tools' which further contain few sub-tools inside them, which appear on right-clicking the tools. All of the first six tools are mentioned in the table below.

Tools & Sub-Tools

Marquee Tool
Lasso Tool
Selection Tool
Crop/Slice Tool
Eyedropper/Color Sample Tool
Move Tool
Rectangular Marquee Tool
Lasso Tool
Quick Selection Tool
Crop Tool
Eyedropper Tool
Elliptical Marquee Tool
Polygon Lasso Tool
Magic Wand Tool
Slice Tool
Color Sampler Tool
Single Row Marquee Tool
Magnetic Lasso Tool
Slice Select Tool
Ruler Tool
Single Column Marquee Tool
Note Tool
Count Tool

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While on the left side of the window, is the toolbar, the right side of the window is for color channels, layers, swatches and other adjustment tools. If you don’t understand these technical terms, don’t worry! You don’t even need to understand it now, because you’ll gradually understand it yourself, as you keep on learning. Now, there are few things you should keep in mind before starting your work on Photoshop:-

1. We always work on ‘layers’. So before drawing any shape, don’t forget to take a new layer, or your work will get mixed up. However, if you want to fill color in a shape, you can do it on the same layer as that of the shape.

2. While working on a particular layer, make sure the layer is selected on the layers toolbar. When a layer is selected, it appears in blue color.

A comparison of an image of the Hollywood actress Kate Winslet that I edited using a quick selection of the Polygon Lasso tool, with the original image. (Original image on the left hand side.)
A comparison of an image of the Hollywood actress Kate Winslet that I edited using a quick selection of the Polygon Lasso tool, with the original image. (Original image on the left hand side.)

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As described in the table above, there are four kinds of Marquee tools. But most of the times (in fact, always) we need only two of them, i.e., the rectangular marquee tool and the elliptical marquee tool. These tools are meant for drawing the respective shapes. To draw these shapes, first of all select the tool from the toolbar and then take the cursor to your workspace. You’ll get a cross/plus/add sign instead of the regular cursor arrow. Now click the left mouse button and drag the mouse in any direction. You’ll see a figure with dotted boundary lines coming out of the cursor. As you leave the mouse button, the shape or figure appears moving (or selected). Now, if you click somewhere outside the figure on the workspace, without filing color, the figure will disappear. So the first thing you should do after drawing the figure is to fill color in it. In order to fill color, go to the bottom section of the toolbar on the left. There you will see two squares, the first one partially imposed on the other one. These two squares represent the foreground and the background colors respectively. The default colors on the two boxes are black and white, but you can take your own color by double-clicking on any of the two boxes. When you double-click the box, it opens up a color palette window, where you can choose the color and shades of your choice. To fill color, use can either use shortcuts, or you can manually fill the color in the shape. The shortcut to fill foreground color is “Alt+Delete” and for the background color, it is “Ctrl+Delete”.

Now something about the Lasso tool – the lasso tool is generally used to cut edit or select objects, generally original images. There are three types of lasso tools – Lasso tool (or simple lasso tool), Polygon lasso tool and the magnetic lasso tool. Though all the three lasso tools are almost the same in their functionalities, there are few differences between the ways they work. While working with the simple lasso tool, we have to keep the mouse button pressed. The point where we release the mouse button, our selection terminates and that point acts as the end point of the selection. Whereas the Polygon Lasso tool is a bit flexible. We don’t need to keep the mouse button pressed all the time to select an object, instead, we have to click every time we want to create a new turning point. In simple words, if we have to cover a curve, we can click at small distances to bend the selection at the edges that we are making through the polygon lasso tool. Even if you make a wrong move and feel like going a few points back and selecting again, you can do it by simply pressing the ‘Backspace’ tab. Pressing the Backspace tab deletes the previous point that you clicked while making the selection. The number of times you press the backspace tab, is equal to the number of points you can delete from your selection.

The Magnetic Lasso tool is probably the most flexible and easiest of all the three. We just need to drag it over an image and it automatically detects the difference between the colors and selects the image at the transition of the brighter and the darker shade.

Whatever you are selecting using the lasso tool, your selection ends when you join the end point and the starting point of the selected area. Now after making your desired selection, you should know what to do with it. While an area is selected, it is very important to hold it delicately until you save it or create another layer for it. If it is mishandled, you can lose the entire selection. To save the selection, right click in the selected area, and click on ‘Save Selection’. A small window will open up. Name the selection, whatever you want to name it. But it can go even without being named, just click on OK and the selection will be saved.

More of this hub coming soon!

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Comments 4 comments

multifunctions profile image

multifunctions 4 years ago from India

thanks for sharing this great information . I want to know more about the layers or slices and how do i make changes to them and overall picture.

Abhimanyu Singh92 profile image

Abhimanyu Singh92 4 years ago from Satna, Madhya Pradesh (India) Author

Hello multifunctions! You're welcome and thanks for appreciating my hub. Yes, very soon I will come up with more parts of this tutorial. I've planned to cover the entire Photoshop tutorial in parts of this hub and I hope that will help you sort out your problems. But still, if you have any problem, drop me an e-mail : abhiman.singh92@gmail.com

I'll try to help you as much as I can in the best possible way. :)

Sparrowlet profile image

Sparrowlet 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Good info, I can see there is quite a lot to learn about this program!

Abhimanyu Singh92 profile image

Abhimanyu Singh92 4 years ago from Satna, Madhya Pradesh (India) Author

Hello Madam Sparrowlet! Thanks for stopping by and taking time to read the hub. Yes, Photoshop has a very vast field of possibilities and so much to learn! I wonder how many hubs it will take to me to write the complete tutorial. :)

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