101 Photoshop Tips


6) Use depth of field to make people prominent
Sometimes you are given pictures shot on a simple digital camera by an amateur, at some event. They provide as much detail of the dirt in the background as they do of the person being photographed. To fix that you need to add a depth of field, which will make the person more prominent in the photo.

7) Only have negatives? Scan them as is
A lot of people make the mistake of spending lots of money to get their negatives developed, which leaves them with a lot of photos they don't need. Instead, you can scan the negatives using a process you can easily repeat. It will give you quality images, which you will be able to easily edit.

8) Always keep the raw layers
It might seem stupid since often times the effect you wanted to achieve has been achieved, but saving the detailed layer files as well as the output is smart, even though it will take up more space. In different projects you might want to do what you succeeded to do in one of the layers – so you won't have to do it again.

9) Control the elements when photographing
If you are able to take the photos yourself – either because you can't find suitable ones to use, it is important that you take care to control how much focus and how much light the subject gets. A flash might seem wise, but it'll flood the subject with light, and it'll add more work for you in the post.

10) Do it yourself
Sometimes you see a brush that creates an effect you would like to get, but sometimes that brush isn't quite right. Instead of spending all that time searching and trying hundreds of brushes, try to edit it or to create a brush on your own – it will allow you much more freedom.

11) When fixing a photo, use the zoom feature
It might seem trivial, but with digital pictures that can be increased to a giant size without having to compromise the quality of the photo, you need to use zoom, because sometimes people would choose to print the photo in a large format. Zoom in on things, remove blemishes and smoothen skin.

12) Use a frame for images
When placing them as is, images sometimes lose their power. One way of making them shine and pop, and be attractive to a visitor of a website, is to use a custom frame in which you place the photo. It adds formality to an image, and familiarity and draws viewers in.

13) Buy font packages
Sometimes your project will call for using text. But just because it's text doesn't mean it can't fit the photo or have a style and flow to it. You can purchase various font packages – a lot of them from comics letterers, who deal with letter designs all the time.

14) Use patterns for backgrounds
Sometimes when you don't have a suitable background, use a pattern background instead. The lack of a background – the big white hole, will draw people's eyes to it, but a patterned background with a simple design will keep the eyes on the subject. You can download patterns from all over the internet, or make your own.

15) Look out for devil eyes
When dealing with photos taken by amateurs you need to pay close attention and avoid what is known as devil eyes. Devil eyes – or red eyes, ruin a photo, so no matter what you do to enhance it if you don't get rid of red eyes, it won't look professional.

16) Add a dramatic tone to your photos
When trying to add a dramatic tone to your photos, you might want to consider the motion blur tool. If it isn't used too much, it's a great tool. You can get blur from the camera, but you won't be able to control it. By using a good camera that manages to photograph things in motion, you have free reign to blur whatever you like.

17) Make a photo look professional by adding a mirror image
Sometimes you are called for to make an object – usually a product, more appealing. Objects are usually uninteresting, but you can add an appealing factor to it by giving it a mirror image on the surface it sits on. The mirror image will be the object duplicated but a bit blurry and a bit transparent.

18) When trying to make the perfect group photo, crop
Sometimes a client wants you to take photos from an event and enhance the poorly shot group shots. Instead of doing that, you can just crop from various images, and create something that better suits the client, and better represents him or her. You will have more room to move when cropping things together.

19) Photograph objects at an angle
When you need to take pictures of objects, the best and most professional to do it is to take it at an angle. It will add volume to the object, and it will allow you to avoid blur due to light reflecting from the object. Plus it will allow you to use a mirror reflection for a slicker look.

20) Avoid regular photos of human subjects
When trying to find a suitable photo, you need to avoid the ones that seem standard and fake – as if someone is posing for a yearbook photo. People will often gloss over those photos and won't pay attention to them. Try to find a photo of the person in a natural position.

21) If you can't find a good photo of a human subject, create it
Sometimes the photos you find aren't good – usually, because they were taken by amateurs with lots of light and no movement – which was done to make sure the photos won't get ruined. You can photograph people yourself – use natural light or soft light, place them in a natural setting, and avoid making them look as if they're posing for a photo.

22) Add shadows to photos of objects
Sometimes you don't have a lot you can do with a photo, because it isn't a good enough photo, but there are some things you can do – use shadows. Shadows are a quick way to illuminate one area, and a quick way to add volume to a photo. Just duplicate a part of the object, blur and darken it.

23) Add artificial lighting
When dealing with a photo that is poorly lit – either due to the surroundings, or because of something creating a shadow on a person's body, or even due to poor studio lighting, you might want to add a digital source of light. It brightens the photo and it doesn't look fake.

24) Add grain for a movie-style look
Sometimes you want to make photos have more of an oomph to them – such as movie posters or movie stills. To do that you actually have to degrade the photo and make it grainy. You can also make a bad photo grainy, to enhance it, and that way you won't waste a photo.

25) When changing colors, use color separation
Sometimes you want a certain object to change colors, but you want to do something subtle. Also changing colors as is will create a lot of problems – colors leaking to other places, some parts aren't colored, etc. To avoid that you can duplicate the layer and color big parts of it in uniform, and place it behind the photo.

26) Sometimes you have to crop
Sometimes, because of being interrupted or due to being an amateur, a photographer doesn't get a photo with a good composition. It has good subjects and lighting, etc, but together it looks mediocre and boring. You can improve the composition by cutting the unneeded excess off the picture.

27) Make objects 3D
Sometimes in order to make things "pop" more, you need to make them seem 3D – as if they leap off the page. To do that, you cut around part of the object, stop, and continue to cut upwards – so as to cut a square portion out of the background, but leaving the object – so it will move out of the visible borders.

28) Sometimes you need to get rid of the minute
Sometimes, when trying to crop a person or an animal, some of the detail doesn't transfer well – like rogue hairs. Sometimes you need to just give up and forget about the minute, and focus on the overall. You can cut those rogue hairs and not include them in the new photo.

29) What the stylist didn't fix, fix yourself
Sometimes, due to natural occurrences – things like winds, a subject's hair or clothes move and it looks bad. Things like a hair that stands, or a hair that sticks out, which ruins the hairstyle. You can cut and crop to fix that, or cut and paste that portion from previous images.

30) When creating wooden signs, avoid too much light reflection
Sometimes people want to have words or photos digitally etched into pictures of wood. You need to remember that people need to be able to discern what's written on it and what it contains. Sometimes a deeper digital etching with less light is better, for making things much clearer.

31) Save money and time by changing a photo's colors
Sometimes an object needs to be presented in an attractive way, but in a way that also showcases all of the different colors it comes in – such as cars so that the customer will be able to see how it looks in real life. You can easily change colors in Photoshop.

32) Zoom in on text using the clipping path tool
When you're trying to enhance an article for a client, you can use several layers and the clipping path tool, which will allow you to create a round area that resembles a magnifying glass. Then use a second layer in which you place the zoomed in version of the text.

33) Fix damaged photos by cloning the background
Due to how they were kept or how they were used, some photos have dents in them, holes and other things that make them seem unattractive. You can fix some of those photos, at least, by copying parts of the background and placing them on the holes – places like the sky, etc.

34) Save the shadows when removing backgrounds
When you're removing backgrounds in photos, the subjects seem weird without their shadow. You can try to cut around the shadow, or you can use a tool to manually select the subject, and copy it. You get rid of the background, paste the copy on a different layer, and change its location.

35) Use transparent watermarks to protect yourself from theft
When you're dealing with a client who asks for samples, or when you're setting up a portfolio or similar projects, you need to make sure your work isn't stolen. You can add a transparent watermark to it. As long as it isn't too visible, the photo won't be ruined by it.

36) When trying to shoot a human, move backward and zoom in
It is a common mistake by people who want to get good photos to use in Photoshop to get as close as they can get to the subject, so every detail is visible. But you should instead go back, and zoom in with the camera – that way the background will be blurred.

37) Design your text
A lot of people just place a text on a photo or next to it, which makes a good photo ugly and unattractive. Instead, think of turning the text into part of the photo – like making it in a nice color – like white, and on a background – like black, as if it's printed on a poster.

38) Use layers to have a deeper effect
It is a common mistake that layers are used to cover up or change mistake easily and without much hassle. But layers are also used to add volume and depth to photos – it is a technique used by famous painters, who painted over and over again, to get a richness of colors.

39) Avoid too much reflecting light
Sometimes, in order to make a photo look professional, people make the light reflect from the subjects, but when it comes to human subjects it makes them look fake and plastic-like. Especially if you took care of their skin blemishes and of their hair problems beforehand.

40) Use crop & layers to get a better ratio
Sometimes when you are asked to enhance a photo that shows differences in height and/or size, you can't just mess around with the photo. Sometimes you need to crop the figures and scale them down, to make the differences in size and height more obvious.

41) Use light sources to cast a light on an entire picture
Sometimes you want to make a photo look more professional and realistic, but you can't fix the objects themselves and re-shoot them, so you need to fix each one individually. You can avoid that much work by setting a place in which a light source will stand – invisible to the people watching the photo.

42) Use the alpha channels to crop more easily
A lot of the times in Photoshop you end up having to crop a lot of images, so that you may use parts of them without having to change the entire photo. In that case, you can use the alpha channels to help you separate the subject from the background, which makes cropping faster and easier.

43) Fix old photos by messing with the hues, saturation and color balance
A lot of the times old photos get damaged – either due to handling, or the material used to produce the photos. The ones that stay complete often turn yellow, and it requires fixing. To do that just add a layer, mess around with the color balance and the levels of hue and saturation, as well as the brightness and contrast.

44) Add a signature to your photos
Sometimes you don't want to use a watermark, and you don't mind risking your photo being cropped and stolen. In those cases, you can use a signature, which adds finesse and professionalism to your photo portfolio. You just need to add a layer on which you place the signature.

45) Edit photos after you take them, in your camera
By editing the photos you took for a project, you will save time on editing them later, and you will be able to avoid using a giant program like Photoshop for small things – like cropping, zooming in, etc. It will also help you mainline your process and make it move quicker.

46) Manage your layers
In big and even moderately sized projects a lot of layers are called for – either for actually changing something, or just for tweaking and seeing what happens. But a lot of layers can be cumbersome. That's why you need to name them accordingly, with numbers, and group them accordingly.

47) Use Photoshop for pre-design
Sometimes you want to see what a house, a wall or a website will look like before you actually design it entirely. You can scan images and paste them on a photo of the wall, house, or on a template for a website. It will allow you to move things around easily, and to see what works.

48) Use the opacity tool
Sometimes due to the lighting conditions, you get a very yellow or dark picture, which is annoying to look at and is unattractive. You can easily fix the problem by changing the opacity, and the hues – if just changing the opacity doesn't work. That way you won't have to re-shoot the object.

49) Make things livelier with a gradient mask
Sometimes when you take pictures of ordinary people doing ordinary things, the picture comes out ordinary. The same goes for pictures clients gave you. Instead of meddling with it and spending a lot of hours on it, you can just add a layer and add a gradient mask to that layer, which brightens things up.

50) Improve depth of field using blur
When you get a picture that has a lot of things in it, the viewers’ eye doesn't know where to focus its attention, and you get an undesired effect. To avoid that, add a layer and add a Gaussian blur to the image, which will change the depth of field automatically.

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