Get started with Photoshop like a Pro! (Part-1a)

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  1. How to open Panels:

Many of Photoshop’s features are found within the panels (they’re kind of like palettes that pop out from the side of the screen), and the most-often-used panels are already visible onscreen by default (like the Color panel, the Swatches panel, the Libraries panel, the Layers panel, and so on) and appear on the far right of the window.There’s also a thin horizontal panel across the top of the window called the Options Bar (when you’re using one of Photoshop’s tools, it shows all the options for that tool here).To keep your screen from being totally cluttered with panels, some panels are nested behind other panels, so all you see is a small tab sticking up with the name of the panel (see above left, where you see the Layers panel, and to the right of its tab you see two other tabs for panels that are nested with it—the Channels panel and the Paths panel).To see one of these nested panels, just click on its tab, and the full panel appears (see above right, where I clicked on the Channels tab, and now you see the Channels panel). Of course, there are a lot more panels than what you see onscreen at first.To open any closed panel (there are around 30 in all), go under the Window menu (at the top of the screen), and you’ll see all of them. Choose one and it opens onscreen, alongside the existing panels that are already open.


If you want a particular panel to be detached from the rest, so it “floats” on its own, just click-and-drag a panel tab away from the rest of the panels and it “floats.”

2. Hiding or Closing Panels:

You don’t have to work with all your panels open all the time.You can collapse them down to just their icons and names, like you see above center (just click on the two little right-facing arrows in the top right of a panel, shown circled in red above left), or collapse them even further, so only their icons are showing (once you’ve collapsed them, click on the left edge of the panel group and drag to the right until just the icons are showing, as seen above right). Collapsing these panels gives you a larger working area for your images, but your panels are still just one click away (click on any icon and that one panel pops out to full size). If you want to expand all the collapsed panels as a group (like you see above left), click on the two little left-facing arrows in the top right of the panel header. If you actually want to close a panel (not just collapse it; you want it off- screen altogether), click on the panel’s tab and drag it away from the panels it’s nested with (this makes it a floating panel), and now an “x” appears in the top-left corner of the panel. Click on that to close it.To reopen it, go under the Window menu and choose it.

3. Creating new Document:

Go under the File menu and choose New to bring up the New dialog.This is where you choose the size and resolution of your new document—just type in the Width and Height you want, along with the Resolution (in this case, I choose 240 Pixels/Inch for printing to an inkjet printer).You can also choose the color you want for your background (in case you don’t want it to be white), and a color profile, if you like. At the top of the dialog is the Document Type pop-up menu, which contains presets with common image sizes and resolutions already in place—you can choose web presets, print presets, video pre- sets, and so on. If you have a particular custom size you use (like maybe for printing on 13×19″ paper), you can save that as your own custom preset. Just enter the size and resolution you want (again, I use 240 ppi for inkjet printing), and click the Save Preset button at the top right. Name your preset and now it will appear in the Document Type pop-up menu for next time.

4. See More Than One Image at the same time:

When you open multiple images, they open kind of like panels do—you see the active image in front, and then little tabs (in the top of the image window) for the other open images behind it (if you have this tabbed viewing set in your Preferences). If you want to see all the images onscreen at the same time, go under theWindow menu, under Arrange. At the top of the menu are a bunch of choices for how you can display them: show them all in thin vertical tiles or horizontal tiles, or display two, three, four, or six images equally (like the four images I have onscreen here. When I choose 4-Up, it instantly resizes the image windows, so all four open images fit onscreen.You’ll see that I also haveApplication Frame turned on, here, in the Window menu [on a Mac]). If you look a little further down in the Arrange menu, you’ll see some controls for making all those image windows open on- screen work together—what you do to an image window you click on, happens in all the other windows. For example, if you click on an image window and zoom in on that photo, then choose Match Zoom, the other three open images all zoom in the exact same way.

5. Organizing Multiple Panels:

When you choose to add a panel to what you see onscreen, in most cases, it just appears onscreen next to the ones you already have open. In many cases, they attach to the left edge of your already open panels, and they start to cover more and more of your image area. I personally prefer to keep all my panels in groups over on the right side of the window, so I have as much room for my images as possible. If you like keeping things tidy like this, there are two things you can do: (1)You can group (nest) panels together by clicking on a panel’s tab and dragging it onto another panel’s tab. As you’re dragging over onto the other panel you want to nest it with, you’ll see a blue stroke appear around the group of panels (as seen above left). Once you see that, just release your mouse but- ton and it joins that group. So, you’re pretty much dragging tabs together to form a group. Easy enough. (2)You can also attach panels directly below any open panel, pretty much the same way. But, in this case, you’ll drag the tab to the bottom of a panel. When it’s about to “dock,” you’ll see a solid blue line appear along the bottom of the panels you’re about to dock with (as seen above center). Now, just release the mouse button and it attaches to the bottom of the existing panels to form a vertical group (as seen above right).

6. Using Guides:

Anytime you need to line things up, you can drag out horizontal or vertical guides over your image.To get to these guides, first you have to make Photoshop’s Rulers visible (press Command-R [PC: Ctrl-R]), then click-and-hold directly on the top or left-side ruler and drag out a guide, positioning it right where you want it. You can re-position them using the Move tool (V; when you move your cursor over a guide, it will change into a double-headed arrow with two lines in the middle [seen circled above].That’s your cue that it’s ready to move). If you want to add a guide based on a measurement (for ex- ample, you know you want a vertical guide added 2″ into your image or 35 pixels into it, etc.), you can have Photoshop place it exactly at that position for you: Go under the View menu and choose New Guide. In the dialog (seen in the inset above), enter the measurement you want (enter the number, then a space, then “in” for inches, or “px” for pixels, etc.), click OK, and it places it precisely for you.To delete a guide you don’t want anymore, just drag it back to the ruler where it came from.To delete all your guides at once, go up under the View menu and choose Clear Guides.

7. Changing the Color Outside the Image Area:

If you want to change the color of the workspace background outside your image, just Right-click anywhere outside your image (if you’re using Application Frame with tabbed documents, you may need to shrink your image view a bit [zoom out]; if not, click-and-drag out your image window, so you can see the canvas area), and a pop-up menu will appear with choices. Choose the one you want and you’re good to go.

8. Changing the Color of Photoshop’s Interface:

Go under the Photoshop CC (PC: Edit) menu, under Preferences, and choose Interface. When the Preferences dialog opens, in the Appearance section, choose a new interface color from the Color Theme color swatches.You don’t really get to choose a new color here, you’re just changing the lightness of the default gray color.

9. See Image at Full-Screen:

Press the letter F on your keyboard twice. The first time you press it, it just hides the window that surrounds your image. But, the second time, it hides everything and dis- plays your image full-screen size. Now, for some reason, one thing it doesn’t hide in Full Screen mode is Photoshop’s Rulers. So, if you have them visible, once you’re in Full Screen mode, press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) to hide them.To return to the regular size view (and see the rest of Photoshop), just press F again.

9. Hiding tool tip popups:

Go under the Photoshop CC (PC: Edit) menu, under Preferences, and choose Tools. When the Preferences dialog opens, in the Options section, turn off the ShowToolTips checkbox (as shown here).You owe me for this one. 😉

10. Making the Rulers Visible:

Just press Command-R (PC: Ctrl-R) and rulers appear across the top and left side of your image window. That’s it.

ADVANCED TIP: CHANGE STARTING MEASUREMENT: If, for some reason, you don’t want the top-left corner of the image to be measured start- ing at the 0x0″ point, you can click-and-hold directly in the top-left corner of the image window (not in the image, in the window—right where the vertical and horizontal rulers meet), and drag the starting point to a new location (for example, if you want to start measuring 2″ into your image, you could drag the axis of those two rulers to that point and it starts measuring from there).Again, this is an advanced tip for you advanced folks who are advanced, and since you’re advanced, all of that made sense. Hope that advances your advanced Photoshop skills.

11. Have Objects Snap to the Rulers or a Grid:

When you’re lining things up using a guide, you can have Photoshop take anything you’re dragging (like an image, or type, or a shape, etc.), and have it automatically snap to that guide when you get near it. It helps to make things perfectly line up without you having to “eye it”—moving it back and forth a pixel or two at a time to get it to line up. To turn this feature on, go under the View menu, and choose Snap. Then, go under the View menu, again, under SnapTo, and you’ll see a list of things you can snap to. Choose Guides to turn on guide snapping. Now, when you drag something near a guide (like the text above), it will snap right to it (you’ll feel it “tug” the text or image kind of like a magnet).You can also snap to other things. For example, if you turn on the grid (under the View menu, under Show), then turn on Snap To Grid, as you drag, your object will snap to the grid of squares to help you line things up. If you want to have things snap to the edges of your image window, choose Document Bounds. Also, you can toggle this Snap feature on/off using the keyboard shortcut Command-Shift (PC: Ctrl-Shift)

12: Use Guides to Create a Layout:

If you want to get all fancy, and have Photoshop build a guide layout for your entire image (for example, you want a vertical guide every three inches across your entire image, and a horizontal guide across the center), go under the View menu and choose New Guide Layout. In the dialog that appears (seen above), enter the exact number of columns and rows you want. In this case, I wanted six columns and two rows (it actually adds two guides for each instance, with a small gutter [space] between them).To change the amount of space between each of these double-guides, lower or raise the amount in the Gutter fields. If you want just one guide, enter 0 for your gutter.

Continue to Part 1b>

  • Design

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