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Photoshop Training: Lesson #2 - Creating and Saving Files

Updated on March 21, 2013

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  • Level: Novice ◊

Creating a New Image

Once you're comfortable with Photoshop's workspace, it's time to create your first image.

To start a new picture, go to “File > New” or simply hit Ctrl+N (on Windows) or Cmd+N (on Mac). A new window will pop up, all ready for you to fill in.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Image NameWidth and HeightResolutionColor ModeBackground ContentsPresets
Image Name
Image Name
Width and Height
Width and Height
Color Mode
Color Mode
Background Contents
Background Contents

Each new image requires at least five pieces of information before you can begin your work of art.

  • Name

  • Width and Height

  • Resolution

  • Color Mode

  • Background Contents

Name, width, and height seem pretty easy...but what about those last three? What do they mean?


The name of the image is what your picture will be saved as. By default, it comes up as “Untitled-1”

Time to Name Your Art
Time to Name Your Art

It's always best to choose a name that will help you remember the content of the image. Something short and descriptive. For example, if you're doing something for a class, use the name of your assignment. A graphic for a webpage could be named “Front Page Photo.” It's entirely up to you.

Width and Height:

Here's where you tell the program how big you want your canvas to be. You'll notice that the drop-down menu has quite a few choices available. So which one do you choose?

That's a Lot of Choices...
That's a Lot of Choices...
What is it?
What is it Used For?
The tiny colored squares that make up a picture
When designing a purely digital image
Common non-digital units of measurement
When designing an image for print
Measurement based on text. A pica is 1/6 of an inch, a point is 1/72 of an inch.
When designing a font or a typography based image
Just as you would find in a newspaper. The default width is 2.5 inches.
When designing a layout
Photoshop's Units of Measurement

Did you ever wonder why computer text sizes are in points (10pt, 12pt, 72pt)? Now you know!


The resolution of an image is how many pixels there are per inch (or cm). The higher the resolution, the larger the picture will be.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pixels per Inch or CentimeterAt 50 ppi, the image is 29.3 Kilobytes......and at 100 ppi, the image is 117.2 Kilobytes.
Pixels per Inch or Centimeter
Pixels per Inch or Centimeter
At 50 ppi, the image is 29.3 Kilobytes...
At 50 ppi, the image is 29.3 Kilobytes...
...and at 100 ppi, the image is 117.2 Kilobytes.
...and at 100 ppi, the image is 117.2 Kilobytes.

The resolution of an image is abbreviated as DPI (dots per inch) or PPI (pixels per inch).

Pictures taken from the internet will show up at 72 ppi. Photos from digital cameras have a wide range of ppi, which can normally be adjusted using the camera's settings. Most print shops will want your resolution to be at least 200 ppi.

Color Mode:

Color Mode is where you choose the palette of colors you intend to use. Just as the oil painter decides what paints she will buy for her masterpiece, the digital artist chooses his basic color mode.

Color Mode
What does it mean?
When do I use it?
Contains only black and white pixels
Lineart or coloring pages
Contains all 256 shades of gray, no color
Black and white photos
Renders colors based on (R)ed, (G)reen, and (B)lue light
Web design and digital art
Renders colors based on (C)yan, (M)agenta, (Y)ellow, and blac(K) ink
Images designed for print
Lab Color
Renders colors based on how the human eye sees them
Personal preference (device dependent - contains more colors than computer monitors can display)
Color Modes and How to Use Them
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Bitmap ModeGrayscale ModeRGB ModeCMYK ModeLab Color Mode
Bitmap Mode
Bitmap Mode
Grayscale Mode
Grayscale Mode
RGB Mode
RGB Mode
Lab Color Mode
Lab Color Mode

RGB and CMYK colors are the most common color modes, and the one you choose is based on what you want to use your image for.

RGB color:

  • Is based on blending light, so it's what your computer monitor uses.

  • Gives you smaller file sizes, since it only uses three base colors.

  • Results in more vibrant colors.

  • Is the best for purely digital art.

CMYK color:

  • Is based on blending ink, so it's the only kind printers can use.

  • Results in cooler tones.

  • Is necessary if you want to print professionally.

But don't worry if you can't decide right now. You can change the color mode at any time. Just be warned that doing it too often can really mess with your colors!

Background Contents:

This setting will determine what your first layer will look like. “White” and “Background Color” give you a locked single-color background layer. Selecting “Transparent” will give you an unlocked default layer.

Background Contents
Background Contents


The preset menu is a list of saved layouts. If you know what size image you'd like to begin with, you can choose one of them and you're good to go.

Preset Menu
Preset Menu

You can also make your own presets. When you start changing things around, the preset menu will change to “Custom.” The “Save Preset” button then becomes active. Click on that and it takes all the information from in other drop-down menus and saves them for you.

The "Save for Web" Window
The "Save for Web" Window

Saving Your New Image (A Quick Overview)

Now that you have your new canvas, the very first thing to do is save. Save Often! ALL THE TIME! If you think you don't need to save, save anyway! Nothing in digital art is more heartbreaking than watching work vanish because you didn't save. I can't repeat that enough. Save, save, save.

The quickest and simplest way to save your image is to go to “File > Save” or hit Ctrl+S (on Windows) or Cmd+S (on Mac). Photoshop does, however, give you two more options for saving your work – “Save As” and “Save For Web.”

“Save As” gives you the ability to save another copy of your picture with a different name, or in a different location, or as a different file format.

“Save for Web” does the same thing, but optimizes the file for websites. It provides you with quick comparisons for file type, size, and quality. However, you can only save the image as a .jpeg, .gif, or .png file.

Putting it into Practice:

To end this tutorial, we're going to create and save a preset that I'll be using often in the tutorials to follow.

Go to “File > New” to open up the New Image window. Once that's up, change the settings to:

  • Width: 500 pixels

  • Height: 500 Pixels

  • Resolution: 300 pixels/inch

  • Color Mode: RGB Color, 8-bit

  • Background Contents: Transparent

Your window should now look something like this:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Notice how the Preset now says: "Custom"I named it "Tutorial Preset"
Notice how the Preset now says: "Custom"
Notice how the Preset now says: "Custom"
I named it "Tutorial Preset"
I named it "Tutorial Preset"

Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
PixelsPrinted Halftone
Printed Halftone
Printed Halftone
  • DPI vs PPI – What?

It's a surprise to many people that even though DPI and PPI are often used interchangeably, they're actually very different things. “Dots per Inch” refers to the little dots of ink put onto paper during the printing process. The higher the print quality you choose, the higher the DPI.

Since a printer only uses four colors, each pixel of a printed image is rendered into many fine dots that the human eye views as a single color.

Get a magnifying glass and take a close look at any piece of printed media - food packaging, magazines, labels - and you'll be able to make out the little dots.

  • What keyboard shortcuts should I know?

There are a lot of shortcuts used in Photoshop. For this tutorial, though, you only need to remember three of them.

Shortcut (Windows)
Shortcut (Mac)
New File
Saving a File
Opening a File

The shortcut for saving your file is the most important of all! I recommend keeping your pinky and forefinger on those keys any time you're not typing. Use it often and the motion of hitting those two keys will become a habit. You might even find yourself doing it when you're working with non-digital art!

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    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very useful and informative article for a new person at Photoshop like me. Thanks for sharing this information.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 

      6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      I've been using Photoshop for many many years but there was one problem I kept running into which I finally figured out from your hub. That is, that sometimes I would fill in a color and it would come out different than the color I was filling in. From your explanation about background color, I finally realized that my background was not white and therefore the color filling in was mixing with it. I finally got that figured out, thanks to your explanation. Thank you.

    • Vector design profile image


      6 years ago from California

      Another informative lesson you share here. i really like your Photoshop lessons. Vote up for useful.

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 

      6 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      I thought this a good idea to take your other hub and expand on it with this one. Again the hub is user friendly and I think anyone reading it would have a greater understanding of how Photoshop works.

    • prospectboy profile image

      Bradrick H. 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I see that lesson number two goes way more on depth with regards to Photoshop. Again, very detailed writing, and the pictures and thumbnails are helpful as well. Voted up, and rated useful.

    • LisaMarie724 profile image

      Lisa Stover 

      6 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Again, very helpful hub! I'm going to re-read these a few times and then put them into practice.


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