Wondering how to learn Photoshop?
How to learn Photoshop is important to most beginner photographers. This lesson will go over the basic steps that you are likely to go through after each photo shoot.
These basic adjustments will take your photographs from your camera and ensure that they have true colors, are sharp, and have a good range of tones.
Step 1: Importing pictures from the camera
The first step in how to learn Photoshop is simply loading some pictures into the program. By default, when you first open Photoshop you will be greeted with a Quick Start or Welcome screen. This will contain several options including creating an image from scratch, opening previously saved files, or getting images from your digital camera or scanner. In this case, the last option is the one you want. When you select it, you will be given a list of available sources to download your new images from.
If the Quick Start window is disabled on your program, the same options can be used through the Import section under the File menu.
Assuming you have your camera’s drivers properly installed, its exact make and model should show up on this list. You can use this option to download images directly from your camera, or you can use an external card reader to access your camera’s memory card. A new window will apear that displays thumbnails of all your pictures in the selected location.
If you would prefer to use the 3rd party software that came with your camera to download your images, you can use the Browse for File option to open the images already stored on your hard drive with Photoshop.
To browse for a picture: File > Browse
To open a picture on your hard drive: File > Open
To import images from a connected camera: File > Import
Step 2: Changing your photo’s orientation
For some cameras, turning to shoot a vertical portrait will cause the images to end up saved pointing the wrong way up. If this is the case for you, Photoshop provides a set of tools to rotate your photography back to the correct orientation. The rotate options under the Image menu can easily turn the picture left or right by 90 degrees or even custom angles.
This step is also useful if you scan pictures, since it is common for them to be upside down.
To rotate an image: Image > Rotate Canvas > Select an Option
Step 3: Cropping and straightening
Photoshop provides two methods that enable the photographer to crop the size and shape of their images. The first is to use the Rectangular Marquee tool and drag a selection over the image to crop. Next, choose Image > Crop. The area outside of the selection will be removed, leaving only the part you want to keep.
There is also a dedicated Crop tool that is located just under the Lasso in the toolbox. It is very similar to the Marquee tool and works by drawing a box around the section of the image you wish to keep. However, the selection can be easily resized or moved at any time by dragging the edges of the box over your image. To perform the crop, click the OK button or double click within the selection.
An extra feature of the Crop tool is the ability to rotate the selection at the same time. Simply click and drag outside of the selection box to rotate the area.
Photoshop also offers automatic options for cropping and straightening crooked scans or photographs. The last two options under the Rotate menu, Straighten Image and Straighten and Crop Image, will automatically perform these edits for you.
Step 4: Adjusting tone
Now that your image is lined up and centered, the next steps in how to learn Photoshop move into the topic of color adjustments.
It is important for your photography to spread across the entire available tonal range of colors. In the world of digital photography, this means that your image should use the whole range from 0(black) to 255(white).
Photoshop provides both manual and automatic ways to adjust tones. The Auto Contrast and Auto Levels options are located under the Enhance menu. Both of these options will help to spread the tones of your image automatically. The difference between the two options is that the Auto Levels function will adjust the values for each color channel individually, while Auto Contrast will adjust the entire image as a whole.
If your photo has a strong color cast, using the Auto Levels feature can help remove it. Be careful though, since the results can be unpredictable. If you do not like the results the automatic options give you, undo the changes using Edit > Undo.
If you are looking for some more control over these adjustments, Photoshop allows you to make them yourself using sliders to tweak the Contrast/Brightness levels. Make sure that your final image uses the full range so your blacks look dark and your whites are nice and bright.
To automatically adjust the contrast only: Image > Adjustments > Auto Contrast
To automatically adjust the contrast and color: Image > Adjustments > Auto Levels
Manual adjustments of brightness and contrast: Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast
Step 5: Removing color casts
Even though most modern digital cameras have very good white balance systems, it is common for pictures to end up with strange color casts under difficult lighting conditions. Photoshop includes a specialized Color Cast tool to help deal with this common problem. You can find it under Enhance > Color > Color Cast. Using this tool, simply click the eyedropper on the image that is meant to be grey, an even mixture of red, green, and blue, and the color values will be balanced.
This method works great, but only if you happen to have a suitable grey section in your image. If you don’t, use the Variations feature under Enhance > Variations to use the ‘ring-around’ guide to remove color casts. This tool provides a before and after version of your image. Under this are a range of options to adjust the highlights, mid-tones, and shadows by independent amounts.
Play around with these options until the ‘after’ picture looks the way you would like, then click OK.
To automatically adjust the color in an image: Image > Adjustments > Auto Color
To manually adjust the colors: Image > Adjustments > Variations
Step 6: Saving your photos
The final step in the process of how to learn Photoshop is knowing how to save your work. The format you save your images in is very important and determines what you can do with your files later. If you are unsure, you can always play it safe with the PSD or Photoshop format. These files save the entire Photoshop workspace including things like layers, editable text, saved selections etc. They also save without any compression, leaving you with all your information intact.
JPEG or GIF formats should only be used when you are looking to squeeze the file down to the smallest size possible. This is good for web design for example. The problems with these formats is that there is alot of reduction in quality due to the compression process. You can never get this back, so it is always best to keep a high-quality full backup using the PSD format.
To save images in a chosen format: File > Save As
Like most things, the best way how to learn Photoshop is to just start practicing with it. If you can master these steps, you will have already learned the most often used and important tools in this photo editing software!