Photoshop is one of the most powerful applications around. When it comes to working with photos, there’s almost nothing it can’t do. Even the name “Photoshop” is a byword for image editing.
Since it launched more than 25 years ago, however, Photoshop’s picked up loads of new features that let it do even more. Adobe has developed the Creative Cloud into a suite of overlapping apps. Some of the tools from programs like Illustrator have made their way into Photoshop and vice versa. Photoshop can now do a lot more than just edit photos.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can make use of my favorite program, Photoshop.
Editing Photos is Photoshop’s original use — it’s in the name after all. Even after a quarter of a century of competition, Photoshop is the most powerful image editor out there. You can modify any pixel in an image pretty much any way you’d like.
- If you just want to enhance the colors, add some contrast, or crop the image, you can.
- If you want to do a full magazine style retouch, you can.
- If you want to make an old photo from your grandparents’ wedding look like it was printed yesterday, you can.
Basically, if there’s any conceivable way to edit an image, you can do it with Photoshop. It’s used by tens of thousands of people every day. There might be some competitors out there but it’s still the industry standard and no app really beats it on features. Photoshop, first and foremost, is always going to be an image editor.
Most paintings, cartoons, book covers, and other art that you see online isn’t created with a paintbrush, paints, and a canvas. It might not look like it but most of them are now “painted” using a computer. Photoshop is one of the most popular apps for doing just that.
Digital painting uses technology to emulate old school, brush-in-hand, beret-on-head painting. With a Waccom graphics tablet you can draw or paint without having to use a mouse, or god-forbid, a touchpad. This means you can work with a far more natural tool for the job. When you paint, different colors will combine to create new colors just as you’d expect acrylics or oils to do. You can get the effects of everything from a felt marker to a can of spray paint all while staying within Photoshop. There’s a reason so many artists use it over more analog tools.
Creating digital art has a steeper learning curve than editing photos. Luckily, Christian’s put together this great list of Digital Art courses if you want somewhere to get started.
Although Adobe also has graphic design specific apps like InDesign and Illustrator in the Creative Cloud, many of their tools have been incorporated into Photoshop as well. For example, the Pen Tool is a staple in almost all Adobe’s apps.
While Photoshop isn’t the best graphic design app out there, it is entirely competent. Something more specialized will make your life easier but there is very little you can’t do. If you’re going to do regular design work, investing time in learning one of the other apps is worth it, but if you just occasionally want to create a Christmas card, design your t-shirt, mock up a quick logo for your business, or even create a business card, Photoshop is perfect.
One of the most important steps in web design is creating a mock-up: a finished design made in an app like Photoshop. It’s something that amateurs often skip. I know that when I first started designing websites, I jumped straight into coding rather than taking the time to plan out what I wanted the site to really look like. All I had was a rough vision in my head.
As you can imagine, this led to all sorts of problems. Designs took a huge amount of tweaking and going back and forth to make things look right. I’d spend an hour changing something with code that would take 30 seconds in Photoshop.
There’s a reason professional web designers start in Photoshop. It’s far easier to resize objects, move things around the page, and just try ideas out. Once you start working with HTML, one tiny tweak can start breaking all the work you’d done before. Anyone planning to design a website should start in Photoshop.
This last use might be a surprise to you but it’s entirely possible to edit video in Photoshop. You’re not going to cut together a Hollywood blockbuster, or even a short film, but for editing small clips it can be really convenient.
The best thing about editing videos in Photoshop is that you get to use adjustment layers just as if you were editing a photo. If you want to convert a regular video you shot on your iPhone into a high contrast, black and white, film noir style clip, you can do it with just three layers.
If you know how to edit photos but don’t know how to use apps like Premiere Pro and After Effects, Photoshop can be a great alternative. All the tools you’re familiar with are there. Another awesome feature of using Photoshop to edit videos is you can also create GIFs!
Whatever You Want
Photoshop is an incredible app with an awesome array of tools. While it was originally meant for editing photos, it can do a whole lot more. In fact, there’s almost nothing you can’t do. It might be a bit time consuming but if you wanted to create a spreadsheet or write an essay, you could actually do it with Photoshop’s tools.
Learn how to do more in Photoshop with our tutorial on creating custom gradients using Photoshop CC.
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