Whether you’ve just downloaded Photoshop for the first time or it has been sitting unused after its inclusion in your Creative Cloud subscription, there are a few things that almost everyone should learn to do in Photoshop.
Layer masking is a really important tool for working in Photoshop, especially when your image contains a lot of different elements. When you mask a layer, you’re essentially ignoring everything that is outside of the mask. So, for example, if you apply a circle as a mask to a layer, nothing outside of the circle will be shown. Layer masks can be a very powerful tool to use, and I definitely recommend getting to grips with them as soon as possible.
The Pen Tool
If you’re a graduate of using Microsoft Paint for all your image manipulation, then you’ll probably be quite familiar with the brush tool already, the pen tool, on the other hand, is an entirely different beast. The pen tool creates paths between points that you place on the canvas, allowing you to create vector drawings or select areas of the canvas. The pen tool can be one of photoshops most comprehensive and versatile tools when in the right hands, and it is essential to learn at least the basics of using it.
Use Layer Styles
While you might feel like you have to do absolutely everything in Photoshop by hand, it is filled with useful shortcuts that will make your life easier and work more efficient. Layer styles are one of the easiest ways in Photoshop to alter or add to the appearance of a layer. This tool is particularly useful for when you’re working with text or UI shapes.
Make a Movie Poster
Mocking up a poster for a fake film or even your own personal favourite can be a great way to build on your understanding of the tools in Photoshop. Try to create something that looks authentic or amps on the styles of famous posters. You’ll find that by the time you’re done you have a much closer understanding of how Photoshop works, and how to create with it.
In much the same way creating a fake movie poster will improve your understanding of the tools in Photoshop, creating your own face swap will build on your understanding of things like layers, blending and lighting. These days you can find so many apps that will perform a face swap for you in just a few seconds, but by building one yourself you will both flex your creativity and develop an understanding of some of Photoshop’s core principles for image manipulation.