What are your Photoshop tips and tricks?



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    Calling all artist friends! I need your help. After struggling through the Travel prompt I decided once again that I am probably doing this the hard way. I am self taught on Photoshop through trial and error and a lot of tutorial videos, so I am sure there are some tips and tricks that I am missing out on that would save time as well as elevate my artwork. I am looking for any help that you can give! If you can please answer the following...

    My Photoshop art jumped to a new level when I figured out ____________________________. (insert the name of the tool, or strategy so I can look it up)

    I also thought this specific tutorial was great________________________________.

    Thank you in advance for your help!!



  • @juliepeelart Anything Aaron Blaise LOL. No but really i would spend so much time "noodling" around in a painting trying to make every last part perfect. After I started to watch his live streams and adapt his techniques I found my art was gotten better as well as the speed I can knock out a piece. I still have tons of room to grow. I love learning new techniques to add into my art.

    The color dodge layer from Will Terry is am amazing thing. I love doing that at the very end of a piece. It really packs a punch.



  • My photoshop art and skill stills needs plenty of work but I echo exactly what @Chip-Valecek said.



  • I am still such a newbie at Photoshop! But I've been watching Lee White's custom brush class and WOW a lot of stuff suddenly makes sense!



  • Funny thing is that my work got better when I started using Photoshop like a more traditional tool. When I started using it I was always using tons of layers and keeping everything separated and such but now I almost always paint on one or two layers and if I make a mistake I just fix. When I joined SVS and heard Will Terry talking about how little he knew about Photoshop but still uses it to produce amazing work I started thinking differently about it. To me keyboard short cuts for work flow are the most important thing. That said the best thing I have seen in a long time was James Gurney using a soft rubber ruler to draw lines right on a cinque instead of using the line and pen tools. It actually is a great fast trick



  • Aha, that would be an endless topic!

    My PS art jumped to a new level when I figured out:

    • How to use layer modes;
    • How to use brush modes (same as layer modes, only on brushes). This is probably the most impactful thing for me, and one that I use so often I even know the keyboard shortcuts for every single brush mode. My most used ones are multiply, dodge, screen and clear (works as an eraser, but with the texture of the brush you´re using)
    • Which means I work mostly only on one layer (otherwise brush modes are pointless); I do create new layers all the time, do something with them and then flatten. I rarely have more than 3-4 layers at any given time.
    • Getting and using Kyle´s toolsets and getting them properly organized (Brush Box is a cheap and great plugin for that). Kyle´s tools include not only brushes but Smudge tools (awesome ones) and Erasers;
    • Working with plugins (Brush Box, Coolorus, Perspective Tool and PixelSquid are the ones left after some natural selection);
    • Using adjustement layers - as important as normal layers for me. Hue/Saturation and Levels are my most used ones;
    • Having a keyboard shortcut for brush size. PS doesn´t have a native one, but you can define new ones. I have set “>” to increase and “<“ to decrease the brush size.
    • And this is the most important one: Learn and use keyboard shortcuts. I know there are people who are great artists and don´t use them, but I honestly don´t know how they can work like that. Using the PS menus and the mouse drives me nuts and it definitely slows you down enormously. I work with the right hand on the stylus and the left one on the keyboard.

    As for tutorials, I´ve said this before but “Fundamentals of Lighting” by Sam Nielson on Schoolism has had an enormous impact on the way I work in Photoshop and it´s probably the best online course I´ve ever had. I haven´t watched the new SVS video by Will on textures, and it may well be that it covers some of the same grounds.



  • @smceccarelli does flattening a layer make it possible to merge a mutliply layer and an overlay layer without them changing their look when I do?



  • @eric-castleman No, you can only flatten layers with layer modes different than normal onto normal layers (with no transparent pixels) or merge together layers with the same layer mode. It´s one of the reasons I tend to work on one layer only (I create new layers with whatever mode, do what I need to do with them and then flatten onto the main “normal” layer) or as few as possible (clients sometimes want different objects on different layers: which creates more work and a lengthier process, so I try to charge more for that).



  • Thanks for the tip, @chip-valecek I just watched his inaugural tip on "evenness" and already learned a lot.



  • @eric-castleman @smceccarelli if you use clipping mask you can merge any layer mode with the main layer. If i am working on a bigger piece with multiple characters I will great a layer with my local color and then add clipping mask layers to that layer for all the different layer modes. Then when i am happy with the result i can flatten them all down to the main local layer. In case you are not sure how to do this.

    1. Create layer and color or draw on it.
    2. Create layer above that layer and right click. Set it to clipping mask layer.
    3. If need be, create another clipping mask layer on top of that one. It will still bind itself to your first layer.
    4. Select all the layers and merge.


  • Thank you everyone! These are great places to start looking! I appreciate you taking the time to comment!