Learning the Basics of Adobe Photoshop

Introduction: Learning the Basics of Adobe Photoshop

Below are some basic instructions to help you dive into the world of Photoshop. Once you get comfortable with the concepts covered here, you will be able to play around with the software and learn on your own! There are also many tutorials for more specific and advanced styles that can be achieved with Photoshop, but you need to be able to use these basic tools before moving on.

*Note: It is recommended that you use an image to follow along and/or experiment with the sections and tools. If you want to use the same tiger photo that are in these instructions, visit this website and download it: http://weknowyourdreamz.com/images/tiger/tiger-09....

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Step 1: Downloading and Installing Photoshop

1. In order to begin the “Adobe Photoshop CC” installation, you will have to visit Adobe’s Photoshop website: http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html

2. Navigate through the website and either purchase or begin a free trial with your email.

3. If starting a free trial or purchasing photoshop, one needs to create an "Adobe ID." The website will prompt you for information in order to proceed.

4. After obtaining a user login (and/or purchasing), the website will ask to download their "Creative Cloud Set-up."

5. Run the .exe file and install the application.

6. Once complete, the application will be ready for credentials.

7. Once signed in, there will be a list of all of Adobes premium applications. Navigate and find Photoshop and click "Try." The “Creative Cloud” will now Download and Install Photoshop CC (2015).

8. Once the application has finished downloading and installing, Photoshop will start up.

9. Click on New Document.

You are now ready to use Adobe Photoshop.

Step 2: Illustration Tools

There are multiple tools in Photoshop that enable the user to make custom illustrations. These tools often aid users in great precision such as drawing paths as if the user is using a pencil on paper. Users can choose to utilize many of the freeform options that Photoshop has to offer. Images in Photoshop can be significantly impacted through the use of these traditional illustration tools.

Paintbrush and Pencil Tools

These tools can be used to paint the foreground color on an image. The difference between the two is that the paintbrush tool will create soft strokes of color while the pencil tool will create hard-edged lines.

1. To start off using either the brush or pencil, you will need to choose a foreground color. These colors are located in the upper color selection box in the toolbox. You will then need to choose a color in the Adobe Color Picker on the top right of the screen.

2. Next, select the Brush or Pencil tool located on the left-hand toolbar of the program.

3. If you have selected the Brush tool, you may choose a particular brush by clicking on the folder icon at the top and going to the Brush Presets tab. You may also load presets by clicking the paintbrush icon to the left of the folder.

4. In the options bar, you may set tools options for mode, opacity, and other options depending on your preference.

5. Load up an image and simply click and drag the mouse in the image to paint using the brush or pencil, depending on your choice. Also, to draw a straight line, simply click a starting point on the image, hold down the Shift key, and then click the ending point.

Paint Bucket and Gradient Tools

These tools allow you to fill an area with a color which has been selected as the “Foreground Color”. It will fill the entire area which you have selected to be filled.

Paint Bucket Tool

1. First, select the Paint Bucket tool on the left-hand toolbar and hold down on the icon.

2. Next, drop down a little lower to the Foreground Color box and double click the Foreground Color box to select a different color.

3. You will now be prompted to choose a color from the rainbow bar. Click on any color that you would like to use and once you have made your final selection, click OK.

4. Load up an image, and select on the area that you would like to fill in with color. It will fill in everything connected to the area which you have clicked.

Gradient Tool

1. First, select a Selection tool located on the left-hand toolbar near the top. You may use any of the Lasso tools regarding the selection.

2. Next, select the area of the image you would like to apply the Gradient tool to. Simply click the selected area and dash lines should appear around the area you have chosen.

3. Then go back to the left-hand toolbar where the Foreground and Background color boxes are. Double click either box to change the colors. The foreground will be the starting color of the gradient while the background color will be the ending color of the gradient.

4. Then pick the gradient tool by right clicking the Paint Bucket tool on the left-hand toolbar and selecting the proper tool.

5. Lastly, click and draw a line down the area which you have selected to gradient. The direction in which you draw the line determines how the gradient colors will appear.

Eraser Tool

The eraser tool can change the pixels to either the background color or transparent. Let’s say you were working on a background with the transparency locked. The pixels would get erased to transparency using this tool.

1. First, select the Eraser tool on the left-hand toolbar.

2. Next, locate the Background color box a bit lower on the same toolbar. Double click it and set it to a color you would like to apply if you are erasing pixels in the background.

3. In the Options bar, you can set up the mode setting. The way you customize the Brush and pencil tools also transfers over to the eraser tool. You may set up options for the eraser such as opacity and hard-edged block erasing.

4. While using Brush and Pencil modes regarding erasing, choose a brush preset and set your custom Opacity and Flow in the Options bar.

5. Load up an image, and drag through the area you would like to erase by using the mouse and clicking over the areas you would like to erase.

Shape Tool

You can use the Shape tool to create or use shapes of your choice and incorporate them into your images.

1. Photoshop gives you different Shape tools to choose from. They are on the left-hand side on the Tools panel. Click and hold down on the Rectangle Tool button to choose from other various Shape tools such as Ellipse and Polygon tools.

2. To choose the color of the shape, click on the color swatch located in the Options bar and then choose a color from the Color Picker.

3. Load up an image, and drag the mouse within your image to draw a shape.

Type Tool

To add text to an image, the Type tool is the tool to use.

1. To select the Type tool, locate it in the Tools panel on the left-hand side of the screen. The icon looks like a capital letter “T”.

2. Once you select the tool, your mouse cursor will change. This ensures that you have selected the right tool for text.

3. Now that the tool is selected, the Options bar on the top of the screen changes to show various options relating to the Type tool. You can select font, font style, color, and font size within this Option bar.

4. Load up an image, and simply click with the Type tool the spot where you want your text to begin. A blinking marker will show up letting you know that you can begin to type your text. Any time you begin typing, Photoshop will add a layer known as the Type layer which helps you spot out the layer on text.

Step 3: Image Editing Tools

As you probably know, Adobe Photoshop is mainly used for editing photographs and there are many tools available to the user dedicated to just that. Here are some descriptions of the most important tools that you should know how to use.

Lasso Tool

The lasso is a free-form selection tool that lets you drag around the canvas and select anything the lasso area covers. Within this tool you also have access to three variations of lasso to work with: the polygonal lasso, which lets you create a selection by clicking around on the canvas and creating points, and the magnetic lasso, which works the same as the regular lasso, but attempts to detect edges for you and automatically snap to them.

1. Select the Lasso tool on the far left.

2. Click on a starting point, hold the mouse button down, and drag your mouse around the part of the image you want to select.

3. Drag your mouse back to the starting point and release the button to draw a freehand selection border.

Magic Wand Tool

Clicking an area with the magic wand will tell Photoshop to select the spot you clicked on and anything around it that's similar. This tool can be used as a crude way to remove backgrounds.

1. Select the magic wand tool from the toolbar to the far left.

2. Click on an area you want to sample. The magic wand will outline the area selected with flashing dotted lines.

3. Hold down the shift key to add more areas to your selection (if needed).

4. Hit the delete key or choose Cut from the Edit menu to delete selected areas.

Crop Tool

The crop tool is used to crop or in other words cut your pictures. You can specify the exact size and constrain the crop tool to those proportions, or you can just crop to any size you please.

1. Choose the Crop tool from the toolbar to the far left.

2. Select a rectangular area on the image by clicking and dragging your mouse.

3. Click off of the Crop tool and confirm you want to crop the image.

Healing Brush and Clone Stamp Tools

The healing brush lets you sample part of the photograph and use it to paint over another part. Once you're finished, Photoshop will examine surrounding areas and try to blend what you painted in with the rest of the picture. The clone stamp is like the healing brush, but only paints one area over another area.

1. Select the Healing Brush tool in the toolbar to the far left (it is a hidden tool in the Spot Healing Brush tool).

2. Find an area in the image that you would like to copy and ALT click it. This will copy the color, luminosity, and texture of the selected area.

3. Position the mouse cursor over the area you wish paint over and click. You can do this multiple times if you want.

Burn, Dodge, and Sponge Tools

The burn, dodge, and sponge tools are paintbrush-like tools that manipulate light and color intensity. The burn tool can make areas in your photo darker. The dodge tool can make them lighter. The sponge tool can saturate or desaturate color in the area you paint with it. These are all very useful tools for photo touch ups.

1. Select the Dodge, Burn, or Sponge tool from the menu to the far left.

2. Paint over the areas you wish to darken, lighten, or saturate with the specific tool.

Step 4: Layers

The ability to alter layers in Photoshop is one of the most useful tools available to the user. Knowing how to effectively control your layers can really help you make amazing art.

1. The layers tool is located on the right-hand panel. There is also a drop down menu, but we’ll get to that later.

2. When you initially open the file, the only layer listed should be the Background. This layer is locked, which means you cannot edit it as freely as other layers, but you can unlock it by double clicking around its name.

3. Before we begin, take a look at the small icons on the bottom of the layers panel. The two we are going to focus on are "delete a layer" and "create a new layer".

4. Click create a new layer. This basically creates another image overtop of your background image, you just can’t see it because it is invisible. Double click on its name and change it to “My First Layer.”

*Note: The order of your layers matters! The top of the list is the top of your photo. Moving a layer under another effectively moves its contents behind that of the layers above it.

5. Use the paint bucket tool to fill the new layer with any color you want.

6. At the top of the layer panel there are two boxes labeled opacity and fill. These can both be controlled by scrollbars and alter the transparency of the layer. There is a small but significant difference between opacity and fill, which will be explained later. For now, it should appear as though they do the same thing.

7. Directly to the left, you should see a box that says “Normal.” Click on this and play around with each of the options to see what they do!

8. If you double click on your layer, a window will pop up labelled “Layer Style”, where you can create a glow effect, shadows, textures, and more!

9. Create a vignette around your picture by adding an inner glow. It is important you change the mode from Screen to Normal. Make the glow whatever color you’d like, and change the reach with the size and choke values.

10. Now is where the difference between opacity and fill shows itself. If you now change the opacity, you will see your glow fade with the layer itself. However, if you change the fill, the glow, along with any other extra styling you may have added, will not change.

11. Now that you have a handle on the basics of the panel, all that’s left is to touch on a few things on the drop down menu at the top of your screen.

12. We will not cover most of these options, but there are three at the bottom that are important to your basic understanding of layers.

13. When you created a new layer, you separated a part of your photo from the rest of it. The merge and flatten features allow you to work backwards by joining layers together. You can merge only certain layers, or all of them at once.

Here is a tiger photo with a layer of solid blue over it. The two layer tabs and specific changes to the features covered under this section are marked in the picture.

Step 5: Filters and Colors

Having the ability to change the design of images can be very beneficial. If you ever want to do a touch-up, increase detail, or even transform an image, filters and color are the way to go. Filters and color offer plenty of options to do these; however, in this section, we will look at the main ones: Filter Gallery, Gaussian Blur, Reduce Noise, Smart Sharpen, Hue/Saturation, Brightness/Contrast, and Black & White.


1. To access the Filter menu, click on Filter located in the top panel. This will provide a dropdown menu containing various options you can use to adjust your image.

2. To start, select Filter Gallery. Your image will then pop up on another screen with a tab menu on the right side.

3. Choose any of the tabs you believe will have a filter appropriate for your image.

4. Select one of the filters available in your chosen tab and hit OK. Your filter will be applied to the whole image and will still be adjustable afterwards.

*Note: For the rest of the filter options that will be covered, it is important to select certain parts of images you want to apply them to otherwise they will be applied to the whole image. To do this, the marquee tool should be used.

5. To use the marquee tool, click the dashed rectangle located in the left tool bar.

6. Click on a starting point in your image and hold down your mouse button.

7. Drag your cursor so that you surround the part of the image you want with the dashed rectangle.

8. Release the mouse button. The area of your image will now be properly selected.

Now, options in the Filter menu can be used on this area of the image.

9. For the first option, go back under the Filter menu and click on Blur.

10. Click on Gaussian Blur to bring up a pop up. Here, you can change the settings of the blur.

11. If you want the area of your image to contain less detail and resolution, increase the radius of the blur's pixels by entering a number or dragging the bar at the bottom to the right. To do the opposite, simply drag the bar to the left.

12. Press OK. The blur will now be permanently applied to your image.

13. Moving on to the next option, select on the Filter menu again and click on Noise.

14. Select Reduce Noise to bring up a pop up similar to the one for Gaussian Blur. Unlike Gaussian Blur, this pop up will allow you to adjust Strength, Preserve Details, Reduce Color Noise, and Sharpen Details.

15. Since there are better tools suited for sharpening images, put Sharpen Details all the way down to zero.

16. If you want to get rid of color noise (colored blotches/dots), adjust Reduce Color Noise until the dots blend in with the image as much as possible.

17. If you want to get rid of luminance noise (dots of differing brightness), adjust Strength until there is as little as possible and then change Preserve Details to keep as much detail as possible without bringing back the noise.

18. Press OK to save your changes.

19. Last, for sharpening your image, click on the Filter menu and select Sharpen.

20. Click on Smart Sharpen to open a pop up. There are a lot of options in this window, but the most important are Amount, Radius, and Reduce Noise.

21. To sharpen, adjust Amount to the desired value.

22. Unfortunately, sharpening can cause noise and some inconsistencies to appear in the image. In order to get rid of them, adjust Radius to remove any halo effects and adjust Reduce Noise to remove the noise.

23. Press OK to apply this effect.


1. To access color options, click on the Adjustments tab on the right side.

2. First, let us focus on the overall color of the image. Select Hue/Saturation in the Adjustments tab.

3. In the new pop up menu, change Hue (color), Saturation (purity), and Lightness to the desired amount. These changes will be applied to your image as a layer.

*Note: Every color option is applied as a layer. You can move each layer so that one is on top of the other and takes precedence.

4. To alter the brightness and contrast, select Brightness/Contrast.

5. Adjust Brightness and Contrast to the desired amount.

6. If you are interested in going for a colorless image, select Black & White.

7. In the menu, adjust the values for each color's lightness. These colors correspond to the ones in the image.

Step 6: Summary

Photoshop is an amazing application to utilize for personal and professional use. By learning the most commonly used tools as well as how to create and configure layers, you already have gained a great start for mastering Photoshop. You should now be able to create and touch up various documents and pictures, such as flyers, posters, and trading cards. We hope you will use what you’ve learned from these instructions and will check out some of the other Photoshop tutorials here on Instructables.com. Now go out and have fun exploring the cool things you can do with this powerful software!

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Related Article at here


    3 years ago

    Tons of great info here! Thanks for sharing!