Getting Started

Workspace Layout

First, let's get familiar with the general Photoshop layout.

Photoshop layout

The Adobe Photoshop workspace is highly customizable for all of the various situations in which different industries might use the program. Therefore, it's easy to change things around in such a way that the program is nearly unrecognizable. A good way to stay consistent with the images we show when following this tutorial is to change the layout to the default mode.

Default workspace option

On the top options bar, click the button for Workspace on the right and choose "Default Workspace."

This will arrange the windows and various "palettes" to a default setting. Notice, this menu gives other default layout options, including options to save a particular layout. This is especially useful for computers that are shared by multiple people.

Options Bar

Now let's take a look at the top options bar:

Menu inspector bar in Adobe Photoshop

This options bar is just below the main menu on Mac computers. The thing to know about this particular part of the workspace is that it is contextual in nature. That means the options displayed will change depending on which tool you're on. In the example image above, the options for the Selection tool are displayed. As you click through the different tools, different options pertaining to each of those tools will be given.

Tools Palette

Photoshop is well-known for its standard tools pallet. Many of the icons used for the tools in Photoshop have become industry standards across all types of software. Video editing, sound editing, Web design and many other types of software share the same symbols used in the tools palette.

Photoshop tool palette

(This tool palette image might look slightly different than your computer in the sense that there are two rows of tools as opposed to one. This was done intentionally so the example image could fit in this tutorial.)

One thing to notice about each of these tools is the small triangle in the lower right hand corner on each of the buttons. That small arrow signifies that there is more than one tool to choose from in that button.

To reveal the other options, click and hold down the button and a small window will pop up offering additional tools.

Common Tools

Crop Tool in Photoshop
The crop tool is used to cut off a portion of your photo. This is one possible way to make a photo smaller. There are other options which allow you to resize the image as you crop. The crop tool is one of the few tools that doesn't have any hidden tools beneath it.

Lasso Tool in Photoshop
The lasso tool is used to select a specific part of a photo. Use this tool to draw a shape on your photo, which will form a selection marquee (sometimes called "marching ants"). Now any adjustments you make will only affect this portion of the photograph. When you click and hold this button, several other selection tools are displayed, which give you varying methods of making your selection.

Text tool in photoshop
The text tool is pretty intuitive. It allows you to add text to your image. The text tool can be used in one of two ways. You can click once on your image using the text tool to type lined text, or you can click-and-drag in order to create a text box which allows you to format the space your text occupies. Any text placed on your image will become part of your image once you save the document for Web publication.

Dodge and burn tools
The dodge and burn tools are a throwback to the days of darkroom printing. In a darkroom, using a piece of cardboard to shield (dodge) light from the photographic paper would cause it to lighten. Or, making a hole shape with one's hands could force light into a particular area to darken (burn) the image in a particular area. These tools allow you to do just that. Notice the options bar settings at the top.  The opacity setting in particular allows you to gradually implement these tools.

Rubber stamp tool
The rubber stamp, or clone tool is a blessing and a curse to Photoshop. It allows the user to manipulate the photo in some pretty drastic ways by sampling a particular area of a photo, and stamping it in another area. To sample, press and hold the ALT key. Use of this tool is generally considered unethical in most journalistic senses, but can be used appropriately for removing dust particles that may have been on the lens when the photo was taken.

UNDO and History palette

As with most professional production software Command-Z (Mac) or CTRL-Z (PC) is the "undo" command that will undo the last action you took. Photoshop will only allow you to undo the last step when using this keyboard shortcut. Then the same combination becomes a REDO command.

UNDO is your friend!

To undo more than one action, you have to pull up the History palette. You can do this by going to the Window --> History menu.

History palette docking

In Adobe Photoshop CS3, the History palette, as well as several other palettes, are docked in a bar on the right site of the screen. Click on the various icons to display the windows, or you can grab the windows and drag them to other parts of the screen.

The history palette will store every action you take in the program as a list. To undo, simply click on a previous item on the list and it will undo every action listed after it. If you complete another action, it will erase actions you've previously undone.