4 Things Anyone Can Do Using Photoshop

It's great for tasks ranging from photo editing to professional design

Man retouching photos
Geber86 / Getty Images

Adobe Photoshop has long been considered ​an essential tool for graphic design. It's sold on its own or as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which also includes Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Acrobat Pro, Lightroom, and several other tools.

Photoshop’s primary functions include photo editing, website design, and design element creation. It's also commonly used to create visual layouts for such items as posters and business cards, although Illustrator or InDesign often work better for those tasks.

Photo Editing

The application is called Photoshop for a reason: it's an excellent tool for editing photos. When you prepare a digital or scanned photograph for use in a website, brochure, book design, or another project, the first step is often to bring it into Photoshop. Using a variety of tools within the software, you can:

  • Crop photos
  • Resize photos
  • Adjust and correct colors
  • Touch up photos, including “erasing” a blemish
  • Apply filters for special effects and styles
  • Optimize photos for online use by choosing certain file formats and reducing the file size
  • Save photos for use in print projects
  • Perform countless other creative tasks

Website Design

Photoshop is also the preferred tool for many web designers. It's often used to design websites before moving on to the coding stage (though it's also capable of exporting HTML). You can create a flat, non-functioning website in Photoshop, then take that design to create a functioning site with the CSS editor, Dreamweaver. Along with creating entire layouts in Photoshop, you can:

  • Optimize graphics for use online
  • Slice graphics into a collection of images (such as for a button bar)
  • Export multiples versions of graphics for mouse rollovers
  • Design individual elements such as buttons or backgrounds

Project Layout

Applications like InDesign and Illustrator are ideal for layout, or desktop publishing. However, Photoshop is more than sufficient for doing this type of work as well. Projects such as business cards, posters, postcards, and flyers can be completed using Photoshop’s type tools and graphics editing capabilities. Many print shops will accept Photoshop files or at least a Portable Document Format (PDF) file, which can be exported out of the software.

Larger projects such as books or multi-page brochures are typically done in other programs.

Graphics Creation

Adobe developers have spent years creating the Photoshop tools and interface, which improve with each release. The ability to create custom paint brushes, add effects such as drop shadows, work with photos, and use a wide variety of tools make Photoshop a great tool for creating original graphics. These graphics may stand alone, or be imported into other programs for use in many project types. Once you master the Photoshop tools, only your creativity and imagination limit what you can create.

Initially, learning Photoshop may seem like an enormous task. But, as with any skill, the best way to learn is through practice, even if that means inventing projects to become familiar with the various tools. You may also find Photoshop tutorials and books extremely helpful.

Try learning one tool at a time until one day you find that you've fully mastered the application.