As a designer you already know how to use Adobe Photoshop. If you work as a professional then hopefully you know how to use it better than most. It’s one of the most important tools in your arsenal, and for good reason. Photoshop is incredibly powerful when used to its full potential, which can be hard to do since it is such a complex and versatile piece of software. To help bring out the pro in you I’ve compiled a few Photoshop tips, tricks and tutorials my colleagues here at the Agency san diego and I have picked up over the years.


Good Photoshop Practices

Use Shortcuts

Like anything in life, there are many ways to skin a cat (metaphorically speaking of course). When working in Photoshop there are a number of ways to execute just about every task in the program, but using keyboard shortcuts is without a doubt the most efficient way to do anything. Learning the shortcuts will increase your speed, your accuracy as well giving you full control of your mouse hand while your other is changing tools on the fly. Resources for shortcuts are in the next section.


Use Layers

Another rule of thumb is taking full advantage of the layers palette. This means you should never have to flatten or erase anything making it possible to retract and fully edit every piece of your project.


Stay Organized

Name and group everything or else you’ll be spending precious time looking for that one tiny piece just to make a small change. I often go as far as color coding my layers.


Use the Pen Tool

NO MAGIC WAND! I don’t care how small the selection is, a professional will always use the pen tool over the magic wand. The difference in quality will always stand out when looking at finished work.


Essential Photoshop Shortcuts

Here is a list of some of the most useful Photoshop shortcuts you’ll ever need as a designer:

  • cmd+S = Save. If you only learn one shortcut in life, this is the most important.
  • cmd+shift+S = Save as.
  • cmd+opt+shift+S = Save for web and devices. If you design a lot of web sites or images for websites then you should definitely remember this one.
  • cmd+opt+shift+N = New layer. It may not seem like much of a time saver but when you add up all the layers you will create in a large project it can shave off an hour or so, and remember “time is money.”
  • cmd+J = copy active layer.
  • caps lock = cross hair cursor. If you’ve ever lost your brush tips and cant figure out how to bring it back, odds are the caps lock is on. I know it sounds elementary but I’ve been there before and I’m willing to bet you have to.
  • cmd+space bar = Zoom tool. With CS5 you can click and hold to drag and zoom. Think of it this way, you’re pushing the image away to zoom out and pulling the image toward you to zoom in.
  • M = Marquee tool. Press space bar while making a selection with the marquee tool to move it around.
  • opt+delete = Fill layer with foreground color.
  • cmd+delete = Fill layer with background color.
  • cmd+opt+shift+E = Flatten image to new layer. This short cut is extremely useful when sharpening image quality and making color adjustments, and the best part is you get to keep all of your original layers.
  • auto select = Check this on if you want to select your layer by clicking on the image rather than having to use the layers pallet. This is helpful if you are used to working in illustrator.
  •  9 = 90% opacity, 8 = 80% opacity, 7 = 70% opacity, and so on. Use the number keys to change your image opacity by increments of ten. Huge time saver.

Click here to download my go-to cheat sheet for Photoshop Shortcuts.


Photoshop Tutorials

Don’t think that tutorials are only for beginners. One of the best ways you can learn how to use tools and effects together is by seeing and how someone else has already done it. Not only is watching tutorials a great way to expand your knowledge and skill set but it should also be good inspiration for formulating your own methods that may be more efficient. I cant begin to tell you how many Photoshop tutorials there are all over the internet, but here a few that I’ve used and sites I like to revisit:









Avengers via Adduzeedo










Rawz Light Effects via Abduzeedo











Captain America Shield via Abduzeedo







Two more great Photoshop tutorial resources:


I hope these few Photoshop tips, tricks and tutorials were helpful to you. If there is anything that you think I should have included or if you just want to leave a comment, please let me know in the section down below. Thanks for reading and happy Photoshopping!

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