30 Photoshop secrets to improve your skills

Power up your skills as we reveal 30 Photoshop secrets that will increase your productivity overnight.
Photoshop is an amazing bit of software that many designers use on a daily basis. It's such a flexible bit of kit that you could spend a week learning new features, and still have only scratched the surface of what's possible. Once you've overcome the beginners' learning curve, however, there are some real gems hidden inside Photoshop that can help you speed up your work and get more out for less effort. Here we've rounded up 30 of the best Photoshop secrets to help sharpen your skills and improve your productivity.

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01. Control your panels

Did you know about this hidden menu? In the top right hand corner of every panel is a little icon that reveals a fly-out menu, giving additional options that you might not have seen before. You can use this menu to set your layer panel thumbnails to be larger, crop to artwork and much more - experiment!

By clicking and dragging on the canvas you can use your mouse to interactively move the shadow around relative to the layer casting the shadow. when zoomed in you can press and hold the Hkey on your keyboard. . you’ll zoom back in to the level you were working at. use the shortcut keys Ctrl+Shift+V (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+V (Mac). Equally. Once you’re viewing the document you want to paste into. Paste in Place Paste in Place is one of those functions that you'll use all the time if you know about it. When you let go. it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. if you’re working at a high zoom level.02. copy as usual by choosing Edit > Copy. Interactively set styles Move the shadow around by clicking and dragging on the canvas When you’re adding a drop-shadow layer style. or in a second document if you’re combining artwork. navigating around the document can become tiresome when you need to get back to your high-level zoom. 03. move the dialogue box to one side. With the Bird’s Eye View feature. Bird's Eye View If you’re doing detailed work such as cloning or edge refinement. but if you don’t it will come as a revelation! After you’ve made a selection either in your current document. or by using the shortcut keys Ctrl+C (Windows) or Cmd+C(Mac). and click and drag with your mouse to temporarily zoom out to a bird’s eye view. 04.

05. 07. Enable visibility history . Simply press Cmd+Shift+T on a Mac. you can very quickly repeat that same transformation on another layer or object. Solo your layer Here's how to preview a single layer If you’d like to preview a single layer.Alt+clicking on the eye icon again will return you to the previous layer visibility state. Note that if you accidentally click on another layer’s eye icon you’ll lose the ability to revert back to the previous state. orCtrl+Shift+T on Windows. 06. and Photoshop will repeat the same transformation on the currently active layer. Repeat Transformations Once you’ve made a transformation to a layer or object using Edit > Transform. you can quickly get a look at it on its own by Alt+clicking on the layer’s eye icon in the layers panel.

you can merge two vector shapes together and keep the result as an editable vector. Simply select the two shape layers . Merge vector shapes Merge two vector shapes together and keep the result as an editable vector If you’re lucky enough to have Photoshop CS6 at your disposal. 08. you can use Cmd/Ctrl+Alt+Z to step backwards through your history as you always have. you can tick a setting in the History Panel options dialogue box that will enable history state for layer visibility. but you’ll find changes to the visibility of layers is now included within that history.Enable the history state for layer visibility If you want to avoid the problem of losing layer visibility settings while previewing individual layers. Once checked.

this can rebound on you. Follow our advice on how to organise your files properly here.g. but Adobe have updated the functionality for CS6. V for the move tool). Organise your files properly It's easy to become sloppy with the way you name and organise files. 10. giving you a bad rep as people struggle to work out what's going on. Draw dotted lines with the brush . But if you have to hand over your work to others. Also read: Make interesting vector shapes in Photoshop CS6 09. 11. and hit Cmd/Ctrl+E on your keyboard to merge them together. Quickly finish editing text Press Cmd+Return on your keyboard to finish editing text and move focus outside the text field When you’re working with text boxes in Photoshop it can be frustrating to move between tools as your shortcut keys won’t work. A great little secret tip is that you can press Cmd+Return on your keyboard to finish editing text and move focus outside the text field. This allows you to quickly select other tools using their shortcut keys as appropriate (e. In previous versions this would have resulted in a rasterized layer.

it can be frustrating to undo changes you've made. 14. With the brush tool selected click to place a point.Drawing straight dotted lines with the brush tool is a neat trick A common Photoshop technique is to use the brush tool to draw straight lines. you can also affect the hardness of the brush without having to visit the the brush panel! 13. Scrub values One of the best time-saving features in Photoshop is the ability to scrub your mouse over input values. for example. If you want to change the opacity of a layer. Often you'll want to hit Cancel and then reopen the dialogue. Reset dialogue boxes When you're using a dialogue box with a pair of buttons that read OK/Apply and Cancel. then hold down Shift+click at a second point to draw a straight line between the two points. What you may not know is that if you hold down the Shift key while tapping these same keys. rather than click into . Many of these modal pop-ups allow you to hold down the Alt/Opt key on your keyboard to change the Cancel button to a Reset button. You may not know that you can open the brush panel and set the brush spacing to 150%+ to draw a dotted line instead of a solid one! 12. Change brush size and hardness It's quite well known that you can use the square bracket keys [ and ]to change the size of your brush inside Photoshop. returning the settings to how they were when you opened the dialogue.

17. Inside recent versions. Close documents quickly .the opacity field of the layers panel. A scrub to the left reduces the opacity. Open a document quickly Rather than navigate to File > Open to open a document. Copy layer styles quickly As well as copying a layer to a new layer. you can do the same with layer styles If you've been using Photoshop for a while you'll know you can copy a layer to a new layer by holding down Alt/Opt and dragging a copy of the artwork across the canvas. double-click on the pasteboard inside Photoshop (the bit outside the main canvas) to automatically bring up the Open dialog box. 15. You can use this same trick for layer styles: simply hold down the Alt/Opt key and drag the FX icon in the layers panel from the layer with the styles to the target layer . this trick only works when you don't have another document open. a scrub to the right increases it.the styles will be copied right over! 16. click and drag on the value for opacity.

or Alt+Cmd+W on a Mac to close all open documents. but if you add a second modifier key you can automatically close every document. The normal way to change is to select the options Photoshop > Preferences > Units & Rulers (or. . on a PC. Your web browser will open and a new online meeting will be set up automatically to which you can invite friends and colleagues. If you have multiple documents with changes you'd like to discard. 19. Edit > Preferences > Units & Rulers). 18. Share with friends and colleagues Share your screen with colleagues or friends easily in Photoshop One of the nicer features that arrived recently in Photoshop is the ability to share your screen with other users. You'll be able to chat. This closes the current document. But there is a quicker way! Just right-click on a ruler (Cmd+R/Ctrl+R will show your rulers if they're not already visible) and choose the new measuring unit you need. Hold downShift+Ctrl+F4 on a PC. Quickly change measuring units When you open a new document in Photoshop you can set the measuring units to match your needs. You're probably familiar with the shortcut combination Ctrl+F4 (Windows) or Cmd+W(Mac).even if you're the opposite side of the globe to your friends. but sometimes you'll need to switch between different units.You can also close your documents quickly. check the Apply to All box when choosing Don't Save to avoid having to confirm each document.com username/password. Choose File > Share My Screen and log in with your Acrobat. share webcam footage and your screen to make for productive collaboration .

Fill with scripted patterns Pattern fill includes handy Scripted Pattern option Photoshop CS6 introduces a new pattern fill option based on a script. First isolate an object on a transparent background and define it as a pattern (Edit > Define Pattern). You can also write your own scripts to use in this dialogue! 21. tick the Scripted Patterns checkbox and choose one of the options from the predefined scripts. All bar spiral will add a colour and brightness shift randomly to your object as part of the fill operation. access the fill command as you normally would (Edit > Fill or Shift+F5). then select your isolated object from the patterns drop-down. Finally.20. Next. Choose Pattern as the fill type. Insert Lorem Ipsum .

such as the marquee tools. History Snapshots . Simply hold down the space bar and use the selection tool you've got active to move the selection around. you can easily move it around on your canvas. 23.Use placeholder text to help utilise text boxes A small new feature that will help save time when you're producing mockups inside Photoshop is the handy new Lorem Ipsum function. Select the type tool and draw an area type box by clicking and dragging out a selection. Use space to move selections Once you've made a selection inside Photoshop using any of the standard tools. Now choose Type > Paste Lorem Ipsum to automatically fill your type area with faux Latin text. 22.

open type features and hyphenation options. this tip will allow you to take complete control of your artwork. Apply blending modes simultaneously If you're rocking CS6. and click on the camera icon each time you reach a milestone in your artwork. Style text easily If you're lucky enough to be using Photoshop CS6. 25. This will create a history snapshot that you can return to at any point. a new feature that can save a bit of time is the ability to set blending modes for multiple layers simultaneously. The latest version of Photoshop introduces paragraph and character styles. To apply to text. kerning. you can take advantage of a great new feature that makes it simple to achieve consistent text styling. then click on the new style icon to create a new style. Snapshots can also be used as the source for the history art brush! 24. colour. You could always do this with opacity. Choose Window > Paragraph Styles to open the panel. leading.Snapshots ensure you can return to any point in the history of your work If you're accustomed to using the history feature in Photoshop when you've made a mistake or want to back-track a few steps. but it's only with CS6 you can select more than one layer (by holding down the Cmd/Ctrl key and . simply highlight the text and click on the desired style. Double-click on the style to set font. Open the history panel.

clicking on each layer in turn inside the layers panel) and change the blending mode for all selected layers at the same time. 27. 26. Crop non-destructively Your cropped areas need not vanish into the ether with CS6 Another nice addition to CS6 is the ability to crop without throwing away the bits of image outside your crop area. To do so. hold down the Alt/Opt key and click once on the eyeball icon in the layers panel for the layer you want to isolate. 28. Now when you apply your crop. To get access to the area outside your crop. Hide other layers quickly You can quickly get a preview of the current layer by turning off all other layers without losing track of which layers were visible and which were hidden. remembering which you had hidden. Choose the crop tool and uncheck the new Delete cropped pixels checkbox. the areas of image outside the crop will simply be hidden for later retrieval. simply choose the crop tool again and change your crop accordingly. Quickly create 3D extrusions . When you Alt/Opt and click again. the other layers will switch back on again.

3D extrusions can now be easily added using CS6's new tool You can now add punch to your titles using 3D extrusions in Photoshop CS6. 29. textured 3D type by simply creating a type layer and choosing 3D > New 3D Extrusion from selected layer. Open the actions panel to see a list of pre-defined actions that can be run. making it a great way to create engaging display type in a hurry. Shadows and reflections are easier to control too. Add selective focus . allowing you to automate mundane manipulation work. and it's now really easy to create high-quality. The 3D interface has been overhauled to make it more friendly to non-3D modellers. Click the New button at the bottom of the panel to record your own action! 30. Use actions for common tasks One of the most powerful features in Photoshop is its ability to record macros of common tasks.

with the amount of blur. You can also add special effects such as lens bokeh with ease. by extension. . Individual focus points can be added to your image. making it simple to draw attention to the parts of an image you're interested in.Blur gallery in Photoshop CS6 has made adding focus easier With the new blur gallery in CS6 you can selectively blur and. fall off and iris size all edited directly on the canvas using the HUD. add focus to your image.

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