Are you tempted to learn Photoshop, but you don't want to spend time learning the tools you can't use straight away?
Here’s a list of the key Tools you need to learn to get up and running. Work you way down the list, just one tool at a time, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own blog and social media images in Photoshop.
Here are 9 key tools to get you up and running with Photoshop:
TOOL #1 - SHAPE
You can enhance, enclose or disguise your images using the Shape Tool:
- Enclose your photos in shapes (clipping masks) to create multi-image mood boards or circular images.
- Add a border or frame to an image by using a shape with a stroke (outline) but no fill colour.
- Add a unified look to your photos with colourful overlays.
- Make text stand out by adding a semi-transparent shape behind it.
- Draw your own blog buttons and icons.
- Combine shapes to create a unique set of graphics for your website.
See it in action: create a colourful overlay for a photo.
Tool #2 - Quick Selection
The Quick Selection Tool make selecting objects you want to edit easy:
- It works well on areas of a photo that have a well-defined edge and good contrast with their background.
- It makes selecting just a case of clicking and dragging.
- It’s great for selecting specific areas where you want to change a colour or the exposure.
- You can also turn any selection into a solid shape or clipping mask.
See it in action: change the colour of an object in a stock photo.
Tool #3 - Dodge
Dodge was originally a term for dodging light when processing film, thereby producing lighter areas. It has the same effect in Photoshop, however, you simply paint the areas you want to lighten:
- Soften dark shadows by painting over them.
- Brighten white backgrounds that look a little grey.
- Spot lighten underexposed areas of a photo while leaving the bright areas alone.
- This is destructive (i.e. permanent) but is a quick tool compared to masking.
See it in action: soften shadows and brighten grey areas on a stock image.
Tool #4 - Eye Dropper
Select exactly the colour you want with the Eye Dropper Tool:
- Great for matching your text or overlays with your photograph.
- Pick up colours in images when creating mood boards or multi-image layouts.
- Quickly make an eye-catching colour-swatch image.
- Grab colours from pictures you love to create a colour palette.
See it in action: create a colour swatch image.
Tool #5 - Spot Healing Brush
The Spot Healing Brush Tool is like a magic wand. In just seconds you can paint away a blob or blemish.
- Remove spills or spots you didn’t notice when you took the photo. I’ve used this a lot when taking photos of flowers - I seem to get water drops everywhere!
- Paint away cracks or creases.
- Remove camera lens spots caused by dust.
- Remove text from paper.
- Remove small objects completely, depending on the background.
See it in action: remove writing from a notepad on a stock photo.
Tool #6 - Sharpen
There are many ways to sharpen images in Photoshop. This is a quick and easy way to do targeted sharpening:
- Make sure the focal point is sharp.
- Spot sharpen important elements without over sharpening the whole image.
- Great if you want to keep a background blurred.
- Sharpen eyes while keeping a soft focus on the face.
- Although this is destructive, it is ideal for quick, specific touch ups.
See it in action: how to make the best of less-than-perfect photos.
Tool #7 - Crop
Cropping an image allows you to select the best aspect ratio and remove distractions on the edges of a photo:
- Uncheck the Delete Cropped Pixels options so you can change your mind as many times as you need to.
- Use the presets available with Photoshop for fast cropping.
- Set and save your own presets for a speedy workflow.
- Straighten images and use design grids to get the best crop.
See it in action: 4 ways with the crop tool.
Tool #8 - Type
If you are using Photoshop to create images for your blog posts or social media, you will usually be creating them with text on. Whether it's a title, call to action or your website address, you’ll need to get to grips with the Type Tool:
- Create labels or instructions for your how-to posts.
- Use the Options Bar to select font details such as size, weight, colour and alignment.
- Character and Paragraph options give you complete control over every aspects of your text.
- Use text as a clipping mask for patterns and textures.
See it in action: create your first blog graphic and learn about the Type Tool.
Tool #9 - Move
The Move Tool not only allows you to resize or reposition items on a layer, when selected it gives you access to the alignment options:
- Don’t rely on your eyes, use the Options Bar to perfectly align elements, giving your image a polished finish.
- Once clipped, use this tool to move, resize or position photos, textures or patterns inside clipping masks.
- Access the Show Transform Controls option, allowing you to freely resize and transform elements.
- Get access to the new Artboard features in Photoshop.
See it in action: create your first blog graphic and learn about the Alignment options.
If you’d like to try some of these tools and create your own blog graphic, why not sign up to the free Photoshop Ecourse. It includes video walkthroughs and a template to get you started, and you cover essential Tools including: shape, move, type and eye dropper.