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5 photoshop tips every designer needs to know

Visual Design

Photoshop is a universe of limitless potential. With a plethora of tools to choose from, those quick to master them can literally design worlds. Here are some tips and tricks we’ve honed that can take you a step closer to designing your own world!

1. Quality is king: Retain images' quality with Smart Object

Retain images' quality with smart object


Doesn’t it frustrate you when you lose the quality of your images after multiple resizes? That's not the only thing though - precious time is also lost when you need to reimport them.

Save yourself a few extra minutes by using the Smart Object function. It allows you to transform your images without compromising its quality, no matter how many times they're resized! It's especially handy to convert layers to Smart Objects if you’re unsure about the ideal dimensions required.

To convert your layers to Smart Objects, right-click on an empty area on your layer, hover to the 'Convert to Smart Object' button and click on it. In those simple steps, the quality of your images will be retained throughout your editing process!


Retain images' quality with smart object

Converting your images to Smart Object helps maintain their quality 

Note that Smart Objects also prevent any filters from being applied directly onto its layer. If you apply a filter, a Smart Filter layer will appear below the Smart Object layer. By deleting the Smart Filter layer, this allows you to back paddle on your filter choices if the outcome wasn’t what you'd expected. No more CTRL+Z! 


2. Eye spy: Quickly view a layer on its own

Quick view a layer on its own


Editing a particular layer can be a lot tougher with other eye-catching elements that steal its focus. Here’s a quick tip to make editing layers a lot simpler - particularly when you’ve reached the 60 layer mark!

Single out a chosen layer by holding down the Alt/Option-button (for Mac; Ctrl button for PC) and clicking on its eye icon. This will immediately disable all the other layers in the file. Repeating the same actions after you’re done will reinstate all the layers of the file to its original viewing capabilities.


This trick helps you focus on the required layers without being distracted by others

Gone are the days of enabling and disabling layers one-by-one, which is a dreadful and time consuming task. Now you’re ready to conquer a hundred layers if needed - although we hope that's not an achievement you wish to reach!


 3. Clean cut: Seamlessly cut out shapes with the Magnetic Lasso tool



This tool is definitely one of the most underrated tools in the panel, often overshadowed by the popular Quick Select function. However, unlike its more frequently used counterpart, the Magnetic Lasso tool does not make the outlines of your cut-out blurry; rather, its seamless cuts are more refined and ready to be used without any additional touch ups needed.


To use it:

1. On your keyboard, click L to use the Magnetic Lasso.

2. Drop the pin on the outskirts of the element you wish to cut out.

3. Click on it ONCE.

4. Go around its perimeter carefully until you’ve covered the entire outline, and returned to your initial point. 

5. Click again.

6. CTRL+J  to paste the cut-out onto a new layer


Here's an example I did with both tools - can you spot the difference between both sunflowers?

Spot the difference?

Reel in the best quality with the Magnetic Lasso tool

The Quick Select tool may be an efficient enough way to get the job done, but it won't necessarily produce the best quality your design work deserves! Eagle eyes may notice that there are still bits of leftovers from the background on the Quick Select flower, while the one outlined with Magnetic Lasso is much more refined.

Give the Magnetic Lasso a go the next time the occasion calls for it!


4. Get comfortable: Angling your canvas for a better fit



It’s hard to work on a Photoshop canvas at times, especially when you need to twist and turn your wrist for a more comfortable angle when designing.

The good news is that you no longer have to stress your wrist - Photoshop allows you to tilt your canvas to a comfortable angle, particularly when you’re using devices such as a Wacom or other digital sketchpads. This is akin to an artist placing his physical canvas or paper at a comfortable angle when drawing or painting.

To do this, click on the R key once and spin your canvas to an angle that is most comfortable for you. When you’re done with retouching, click ESC to reset the canvas to its original angle.


Angling your canvas for a better fitRotate your canvas to a comfortable designing angle

Now that touching up has become a lot easier with this tool, there's no need to angle yourself into awkward and uncomfortable positions!


5. No more hue and cry: Colour changes made easy

Colour changes made easy


Colours are an important consideration in any design work, as it conveys tone, mood, and feeling. A well-balanced colour theme makes your image visually unified and appealing - but what happens when some colours don’t seem to go well together?

Let’s say you have an image of a subject wearing a red shirt. It’s a nice shirt, but it just doesn’t match the blue background it’s pictured against. Wouldn’t it be nice if the shirt was blue instead? Well, you can make that colour-change wish come true, in 5 simple steps:

1. Select the area that you want to edit (Tip: Use the Magnetic Lasso!)

2. Paste it onto a separate layer, above the parent layer. (Tip: CTRL +J / CMD +J)

3. Double click that layer to go into the layer style

4. Under colour overlay mixer, select your desired colour.

5. In the Blend Mode of the colour overlay, select Hue or Colour.

(Bonus tip: Choose a pastel colour for a more natural look!)


Follow this quick tutorial!


The great thing about this trick is that the Blend Mode adapts your colours to the conditions of the background, which helps to retain the shadows, gradients and natural lighting of the raw image.

Now, there won't be any more hue and cry over conflicting colours - just change them as you wish!


 We hope these revelations make you realise how much more efficient you can be as a designer. So, go forth - jump back into Photoshop, try out these tips, and start designing your world!


All original graphics created by Amirul Firdaus.


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