Before you start working with Photoshop, you should at
least have read the general section on images.
The features of Photoshop change from version to
version, sometimes significantly. Your best reference for
up-to-date information about Photoshop is either the
integrated help files and tutorials, or the printed
documentation (if available).
When you first open Photoshop, open a new window
and take a moment to try out a few of the tools on
the toolbar (at right). The tools you should be most
concerned with are the pencil tool (), the airbrush
the eraser tool (), the select tool () and the crop tool
function of each tool is described below.
The pencil tool is used to create very fine lines
and dots of a single color. The airbrush tool is used
to create softer lines and dots. The eraser tool
makes everything in its path the same color as the
background, or transparent, depending whether the
image has more than one layer.
All of the drawing tools share some common
characteristics. Here are a few tips for making
effective use of all three:
- To draw a straight line, click and hold down
the mouse icon at the starting point of the line,
then hold down the shift key while dragging in the
- To draw a line from one point to another, click
on the starting point of the line and release, then
hold the shift key and click on the desired end
- To change the cursor to a crosshair, click on
the caps lock key.
The color control panel
(see inset) is used to select the foreground and background
colors used for drawing operations. The upper left square
displays a swatch of the currently selected foreground
color, the lower right square displays the background
color. Click on either to select a new color from the range
of available colors. To select a color already present in
the current image, use the eyedropper tool (). If you are
already using a drawing tool such as the pencil or
airbrush, you can select a new foreground color from the
current image by holding the option key and clicking on the
desired color. To reset the foreground colors to black and
white, click on the small black and white squares to the
lower left of the current foreground and background
The rectangular selection tool () is used to select an area of the
current image to edit. Once you have selected an area, any
changes you make will only affect that area. To move an
area that has been selected, or a selection that has been
pasted into an image, use the move tool ().
You should also take a minute to familiarize yourself
with the menus in Photoshop.
this is quite standard, but pay attention to the Import
and Export options. The Import option is where you'll
find the option to scan an image (if a scanner is
installed). The Export heading includes the option to
save in GIF89a format (which is used for GIFs that use
includes the standard cut, copy and paste commands, but
also contains commands to fill an area, or to transform a
layer or selection. The transform commands you'll
probably use most often are rotate (see below) and
If you do a lot of converting and resizing, you may use
this menu more often than the File and Edit menus. The
Mode heading includes the command to switch to indexed
color, which you'll need when working with GIFs. The
"Image Size" command is used to resize and/or resample an
image (see below). The "Canvas Size" command is
invaluable when adding space for additional text.
Finally, the "Rotate Canvas" command is useful when you
need to rotate an entire image (see below), and not just
a layer or selection.
The only thing you'll need for basic work is the
"Flatten Image" command, which combines all layers into
Tools to change what areas of the image are selected.
The "Color Range" command creates a selection based on a
color range, which can be quite useful.
Most of these you probably shouldn't spend your time
playing around with, but oh are they fun. If you must try
a few filters out, you may actually have a legitimate use
for the Sharpen tools.
In addition to allowing you to zoom in and out, this
panel allows you to show and hide guide and grid
Gives the option to show or hide additional control
Here are a few common image manipulations Photoshop is
often used for. If you've tried out some of the tools and
menu options listed above, you may have already figured
some of these out.
To rotate an image:
Under the Image menu, choose Rotate
Canvas and one of the following options:
- 180º rotates image by a half-turn
- 90ºCW rotates image clockwise by a
- 90ºCCW rotates image counterclockwise by a
- Arbitrary rotates image by your specification,
clockwise/counterclockwise, between -359.99 to
- Flip horizontal flips the image along the
- Flip vertical flips the image along the
To rotate a specific layer or area in an image use the
transform command. First select the layer or area to
rotate. Then, under the Edit menu, choose
Transform and one of the following options:
The most reliable way to resize an image is as
- Under the Image menu, choose Image
- Check the constrain proportions box.
- If you want to change the size of the image without
changing the resolution, check the resample
- Change the resolution as desired (see the section of the
handbook on images for more information).
- Under pixel dimensions, enter the new height or
(to change by percentage, change the unit of
measurement to percent, then type in the percentage
increase or reduction desired.)
- Click OK
If an image includes extraneous white space or
unneeded content, it is sometimes preferable to crop an
image rather than resize it. There are two ways to crop
- Drag the crop tool () over the part of the image you want
to keep. Click and drag the square handles on the
corners and sides of the selected area to change the
size of the selected area. To change the size of the
selected area while keeping the same proportions, hold
down the shift key while dragging one of the handles.
While you have an area selected, you can also rotate
and resample the area. Once you're happy with the area
that's selected, double-click in the center of the
selected area to crop the image.
- Use the rectangular marquee tool () to select the
part of the image you want to keep and then chose
Crop under the Image menu.
To save a file in a different format such as
- Under the File menu, choose Save
- Type a filename and choose the correct format
- Hit save
Some formats are available only in certain color modes
or if the image is flattened. You can save a duplicate
(flattened version) of the file in those formats by
selecting Save A Copy.
To create an image for the web you need to save it as
a gif. Under the File menu, choose Export
> GIF89a Export.... You'll see a screen like
A good range of introductory material.
If you don't know, About.com is a bunch of mini-sites run
by experts on a given topic. This mini-site lists a bunch
of tutorials on Photoshop.
Much more advanced concepts. A warning: many of these
demonstrate the use of Photoshop with other Adobe
products, which is definitely in their interest but not
necessarily in yours. Stick to the tutorials that use
Photoshop only and you'll be a lot happier.