Photoshop Basics Overviewon Mar 24 in Guides and Tutorials, Photoshop by Joe Starks
For those who are not technologically savvy or inclined, it almost seems a drag to have to make use of a software as intimidating and complicated as Photoshop. It would be all too easy to justify why one should not have to use Photoshop, least of all need Photoshop: not wanting to go through all the trouble of fixing up pictures, the way the picture looks is already good as it is in its natural state, there are way too many steps and instructions to follow it could overwhelm me, etc. The all-too familiar built-in defense mechanism kicks in when one has to face something one is not interested in facing. But perhaps, for the un-inclined to anything technological, a friendly encouragement is issued to you: it’s not so bad to try something new, even if that new thing involves something you are not particularly interested in. Besides, one has to just open up one’s mind (even a little bit at a time) to see the nice things about Photoshop: the fun of spicing up an image, transforming the settings of the picture to make it look like something completely different, enhancing the beauty of a certain image, time-traveling effects, making beautiful posters, … just making something beautiful and worthwhile.
It would be safe to classify you as a beginner; and so, as such, as you take a baby step and begin to take an adventure through Photoshop, please know that you don’t need to make your first Photoshop project something way-over-the-top or incredibly glamorous or fantastically perfect. Remember, baby steps. Make it simple yet interesting, focusing on one idea for the meantime and building up on that by adding only what is necessary to help reinforce that idea. But then again, if you’re the ambitious kind of a beginner, then by all means, go wild and click away at this and that; trial and error may be more your style, which can be a good way of helping you learn a lot of what to do and what not to do.
When you open up Photoshop you have what is called your “workspace,” which is that whole area of the screen on which you get to create your masterpiece/s. Within the workspace you will see the menu bar (which gives you options for different tools to use), the options bar (contains particular tools to be used for particular options as well as a workspace menu for saving, loading and arranging palettes), and the toolbox (shortcuts for Photoshop tools). These three contain the tools and colors needed for you to work your magic. Palettes are individual panes that contain information and options to help you in working with your file. You have all the freedom to customize your workspace suited to your preferences and working style – how you want your menu bar to look, where you want which tool bar to be placed, what type of information you want to be displayed in your palettes and how you want them to be arranged, etc. Don’t forget to save your preferred settings by going to the menu bar, which provides an option for saving your workspace.
You will also encounter the following formats that contain up to 256 colors that you can choose from to help enhance the shades of your picture. Each format provides support for particular kinds of images. GIF (“jiff” or “giff”) is best for transparency and animation as well as graphics that make use of large areas of the same color. JPEG (“jay-peg”) supports photographic images. PNG (“ping”), like GIF, supports transparency but is perhaps better in the sense that it can render greater support for transparency of colored areas in a picture. With these formats you can manipulate the coloring of your picture by adding or reducing on the darkness/lightness of the color (depending on how you prefer to adjust it), discerning the degree of transparency that will suit any color, the blending of images through the use of matte colors.
Layering is a tool that allows you to work on the image one area at a time; and you won’t be able to disturb or affect any other part of the image until the one you’re working on has been tweaked and cured up to your liking. The many other tools are at hand for you to select and isolate, move, crop or cut, draw, paint, brush, outline, shape, blend, zoom in or out, write, erase and edit.