Photoshop is one of the few must-have tools in every visual graphic designer’s arsenal. Sure, there are plenty of software programs that compete with the star of Adobe’s Creative Suite, and some may eventually topple Photoshop’s popularity (Sketch anyone?).
Despite the competition, Photoshop is the industry standard in design. The reality is that there will inevitably be moments in your design career where you must use Photoshop in some capacity.
Whether it’s working on logos or the latest landing page for a small business, prototyping a wireframe, or creating custom graphics, Photoshop is a robust tool that can handle most of a designer’s needs. So how can Photoshop designers improve their skills with the tool? A good place to start is by reading through Photoshop tutorials to better understand how talented designers use the software themselves. Then, as you get a feel for the process, it’s important to use all the tips and tricks within Photoshop to boost your efficiency and productivity with the tool.
Here are 5 Photoshop productivity tips you must learn to maximize your ability to use Photoshop:
1. Use the keyboard shortcuts.
This applies to any complex software: If you want to be proficient with the tool, you need to be able to use it quickly. Using Photoshop without knowing shortcuts is a time-consuming endeavour that will set you far behind a Photoshop expert. There are all kinds of shortcuts, from holding down the spacebar to use the hand tool and navigate a design, pressing the “[“ and “]” keys to change the size of your brush, to using the numbers 1-10 to change the opacity of your selected object or layer. It’s important that you get a grasp of each shortcut so that you can accomplish your intended goals all the faster.
2. Photoshop actions are huge time-savers.
If you need to do anything more than twice, Photoshop actions are a lifesaver. In essence, they allow designers to avoid having to repeat any tasks. Need to create a wireframe with specific dimensions or add the same filter to several graphics? Photoshop actions let designers do these tasks with just the click of a button. Not only can you create customized actions to fit your needs, but you can also download other actions online, which can save you the time of creating an action step by step yourself while also serving as an inspirational and educational tool.
3. Avoid destructive editing.
Photoshop lends itself to a process of iterations, tinkering with different objects and images over time until finding the perfect elements that bring a design together. Naturally, this process includes a lot of experimentation, and, of course, a lot of mistakes. To ensure that you don’t have to start from scratch once you make a drastic decision that affects the whole project (and believe me, this will happen), then you have to employ a method that avoids destructive editing. This means that when you first import images or a layout, create a duplicate, name this new layer “original,” and lock it so you can’t touch it. In case you need to start over, this process will ensure that the basic elements of your design remain unedited, so you can bring them in and start over without having to re-create or import anything again.
4. Unlock your “undos.”
Similar to the need to keep original copies of each element, you’ll need to increase your ability to undo actions within the software. Photoshop’s settings are automatically programmed with a limited number of undo’s, so be sure to manually increase the number of changes you can go back and undo if you need to. Keep in mind that the further back you allow your editing to go, the slower Photoshop will run, so there is a limit to how many times you can undo something – how far back, and how slow you’re willing to let the program run, is up to you. Find the right balance for you, and ensure that you can fix your mistakes without too much of a hassle.
5. Customize your panels.
For an app as universal as Photoshop, it’s cool how much customization Adobe gives to its users. Not only can you create your own hotkeys, but also you can even change the layout of Photoshop’s panels (the windows showing users different layers). To maximize your productivity in Photoshop, customize your panels by minimizing the amount of information that each panel shows, leaving just enough so you can identify what each panel represents without having to slow down to think about it. This will increase the amount of screen space you have to work, reduce clutter, and help you work more efficiently.
Are you a Photoshop expert? Share with us how you’ve increased your productivity in Photoshop with a comment below!
Lisa Froelings is a productivity consultant with over four years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the US before she decided to build her own small business. Her interests include technology, user experience, as well as time management.