Photoshop like a Pro with these Tips and Tricks

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Photoshop is an Adobe created software developed to aid in graphics editing. There are many reasons why most graphic designers choose to utilize Photoshop in their line of work but namely because of the ability of the program to perform a wide variety of functions as well as operate on a variety of operating systems. There are few graphics editing programs which have the flexibility of Photoshop while also being able to function on so many different operating systems but the fact that Photoshop does makes it ideal for a computer based industry. Like most good software companies, Adobe ensures that users are always up to date with new functions as well as operating system compatibility by consistently releasing new versions when they are needed.

What is the Latest Version of Adobe Photoshop?

The most current version of Photoshop (at the time of this writing) is Adobe Photoshop CS5 which was released in April of 2011.

Adobe Photoshop CS5 (Full) – The newest version of Adobe Photoshop CS5 redefines digital imaging. It includes breakthrough tools for photography editing, superior image selections, realistic painting, and more. It also comes loaded with mobile app options. The key improvements to CS5 are:

  • Content-Aware Fill: Remove any image detail or object and watch as Content-Aware Fill magically fills in the space left behind.
  • Complex selections made easy: Select specific areas within an image in fewer clicks. Easily select intricate image elements, such as hair, and eliminate background color around selection edges.
  • Superior HDR imaging: Create photo-realistic or surreal HDR images. Use automatic ghost removal and tone mapping and adjustments to give even single-exposure photos the look of HDR.
  • Painting Effects: Easily change a photograph into a painting or create unique artistic effects with the Mixer Brush, which offers on-canvas color blending, and Bristle Tips, which let you create lifelike, textured brush strokes.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 Full – Yes, Adobe Photoshop is expensive. But that’s because the average photographer won’t need all the advanced features of the full version of Photoshop. Photoshop Elements is the same software, but trimmed down, and containing only the bread and butter elements of CS5. Photoshop Elements makes editing photos and making photo creations easy using automated options. It also lets you share photos with your social network, and find and view all your photos and video clips.

The importance of Buying Legitimate Adobe Software

Adobe Photoshop is, unfortunately, one of the most commonly counterfeited pieces of software on the market today. Pirated copies are not only unsafe (they are littered with viruses, spyware, and trojan horses), they are unstable and in many cases will crash your computer. And, they’re everywhere – including on Ebay,, and other normally “trusted” Internet merchants. To learn more about Adobe piracy and how to ensure you’re getting legitimate, virus free software, see our article on how to identify pirated versions of Adobe Photoshop.

A Little Photoshop History

While many graphic designers of today’s age will tell you about the diverse capabilities of the Adobe Photoshop software, there are few who are knowledgeable of the length of time that this program has been in existence. The truth of the matter is that this popular graphics editing software has been around since its debut in 1988. The first version of Photoshop and indeed every version up until 1992 (this included three versions but excluded the actual 1992 release) was released specifically for Macintosh operating systems. Most graphic designers and editors will attest to the fact that Macintosh is generally a better system to work with when focusing on editing of any type. Ease of usability on the Macintosh operating system is not the reason that this program was developed based on Macintosh’s operating system, however; rather the program’s creator happened to be working on a Macintosh Plus at the time of the program’s creation. Thomas Knoll began work on the Photoshop program in 1987 and amazingly enough one year later it was ready for release. The current version of Adobe Photoshop is the sixteenth version and as operating systems continue to update and the capabilities of graphics editing programs continue to expand so too will Photoshop.

Photoshop Functionality

The universality of the Photoshop program is one of the biggest reasons that this program is so heavily relied upon by graphic designers; however, there are many features of this graphics editor that also make it appealing. The ability of Photoshop to create its own file format is one of the more important features of this software because, rather than other “flatter” image types the Photoshop document is able to provide a much more three-dimensional image. The traditional JPEG image has one layer containing all of the images information; however, when creating documents in Photoshop format the user has the ability to separate layers of information to make them much easier to work with when editing. The Photoshop Document file extension can be utilized in any of Adobe’s supporting products that are also intended for graphics editing which also gives them wider versatility in terms of available functions.

Photoshop Tips and Tricks

The flexibility of functions available on the Photoshop software makes it a favorite among professional and amateur designers alike. With so many different methods of image manipulation available there are some Photoshop tips and tricks that tend to make the favorites list of almost everyone who endeavors to experiment with the program. While there are certainly a great many tutorials, tips and tricks to getting the effects that you desire from Photoshop, below you will find some of the most popular.

Removing the Background of an Image in Photoshop

With the exception of professional graphic designers, most people choose to utilize Photoshop with a learn as you go method, while this can be just as educational for some it is also conducive to learning the incorrect way to use many of the more important features of the program. One of the most commonly misused tools in Photoshop is the background eraser tool. Amateurs utilizing this tool will often try to simply select the color of the background using this tool and begin to erase; however, there is a little more that goes in to the process if you desire a professional looking final product.

The Magic Extractor Tool

The process of removing a background from an image in Photoshop involves the use of the Magic Extractor tool. To open the magic extractor tool so that you can begin work open your image in Photoshop and through your filter menu, select the option “ExtractPlus.”

Foreground and Background Brushes

The trick to utilizing the extraction feature in Photoshop is to be as thorough as possible in your designation of background and foreground items by utilizing the background and foreground brushes. Selecting the foreground brush will enable you to paint over anything in the foreground of your image, items that you want to keep. Selecting the background brush will enable you to paint over the area of the image that you want to be removed. When utilizing this extraction feature it is not enough to simply outline items, you must also shade them using the appropriate brushes in order to help the program to determine which items should be deleted and which should be maintained. When painting the foreground and background elements of your image it is important to pay attention to fine details that can get overlooked to make sure that they too are not removed from your image.

Erasing Errors Made with the Magic Extractor Tool

Using the Magic Extractor tool can sometimes result in errors; there are two methods for undoing these errors depending upon your preference. If you have made sure to perform your “painting” in multiple brush strokes you may find that the “Ctrl+ Z” command to undo your last action is an easy way to undo mistakes. If you are looking to erase a mistake without having to redo a large portion of your “painting” activity you should use the point eraser tool. The point eraser tool is the Magic Extractor’s version of the eraser and utilizing it on an area of your image that you have drawn on with the foreground of background tools will erase your brush strokes. You should know that using the Magic Extractor eraser will only erase brush strokes that were made in the Magic Extractor program and it will not erase elements of the original image.

Colorizing Grey and Monochromatic Images

Many times designers need to create menu buttons or three-dimensional shapes and for this there are a variety of pre-made items that can be utilized. The problem with utilizing pre-made buttons etc. is that the color scheme does not always suit the color scheme of the site that the design is being created for. There is a particularly easy trick that can be used to colorize these elements to suit the site in question, however, and it involves little more than a click of the mouse.

Adding Color with the Colorizing Feature

The first step in colorizing the image that you have selected is to visit the Hue/Saturation menu which is located under the Image, Adjustments menu options. Once the Hue/Saturation menu has appeared there is a small checkbox on the right of the menu titled “colorize,” clicking this will allow you to color your monochromatic or grey images. To select the color of your colorizing feature utilize the “hue” slider to choose the color that suits the site you are working with. Utilizing the “saturation” slider will increase or decrease the depth of the chosen color. The “hue” slider has a variety of color choices and depending upon the color that you are going for you may have to play with the slider for quite a while before finding the one that you want to use.

Things to Watch Out For When Colorizing

While the colorizing feature is extremely useful with monochromatic elements as well as grayscale images, it does not work well with images that are already in color. You should also note that if you have difficulty working with colorizing your image you may find it easier after brightening the image by increasing lighting.

Changing the Shape of an Image in Photoshop

Most Photoshop users know how to scale and even skew an item; however, when it comes to creating a specifically sized and shaped image most amateur designers find themselves stuck. Utilizing the “warp” feature is the easiest method for creating a precisely shaped image from any original image shape.

Create a Visual Aid for Your Final Image

The first step in changing the shape of an image in Photoshop is to have a visual guide for what you want your final shape to look like. Having a guide to follow will help you to ensure that your final shape is well proportioned as well as the exact shape that you had in mind. A visual aid can be any shape or any version of a shape that you desire.

Transforming the Original Image

In order to transform the shape of the original image it is important to overlay the image on to the guide that you created. Simply dragging the image over the guide will give you guidelines t follow when editing the image. After placing the original image over the image guide that you created go to the edit menu and select the “transform” feature and then select the “warp” option. Selecting the “warp” option will overlay a grid over your original image and help you to begin transforming the image in to the final shape that you desire. After completely warping the image to create the shape that you desire you can hit enter to escape from the “warp” Photoshop mode.

Replacing Colors in an Image

Replacing colors in an image is a skill that is often demanded but rarely utilized by amateur Photoshop users simply because they do not have the knowledge of how to perform this function. The color replacement tool in Photoshop is the easiest way to change the color of one aspect of a photograph to a different color. The most amazing aspect of the color replacement tool when utilized on photographs is that it can replace colors without changing or adjusting the texture of elements within the photograph making color changing an easy process.

Utilizing the Color Replacement Tool in Photoshop

After opening your image in Photoshop select the color replacement tool in the Photoshop toolbar. The color replacement tool will offer a variety of options when it is selected and each of these options will adjust and replace the color of a selected portion of your image differently. There are four ways in which you can change your original image color: luminosity, saturation, color and hue. Of these four options the most effective way to change colors of an area of your photograph without creating an unnatural look is to adjust the hue of the image.

Sampling with the Color Replacement Tool

The “sampling” feature of the color replacement tool is what tells Photoshop which color to use in place of the old color. There are various methods of “sampling” color for this option. “Background swatch” is perhaps the most well-known option for color sampling and it tells Photoshop to use the background color that is currently selected in the toolbox as the color that is going to be replaced. The background color that is going to be replaced will be replaced with the color that is currently selected as the foreground color. Utilizing the “background swatch” selection method is the easiest method of replacing a color but it is not the only method available. A second option for color replacement is to utilize “continuous” color replacement which means that as you replace the color Photoshop will sample continuously. This type of color replacement technique is more difficult to control than utilizing the background swatch method. The third and final sampling method for replacing color is the “once” method which will replace colors in your image based on the first color that you click, meaning that after selecting the tool if you click on a green area of your photograph that is the color that will be selected to be replaced.

Placing Limits on Color Replacement in Photoshop

Utilizing the color replacement tool can result in extremely pleasing results even for amateur Photoshop users; however, without limits on the color replacement activity the final product can still appear untidy and amateurish. Limits are what tell Photoshop where to stop color replacement activity. As with the color replacement option there are three options when it comes to designating color replacement limits. “Find Edges” is an option that tells Photoshop to continue replacing the designated color until it hits the edges of the area where the color replacement is taking place. Utilizing “find edges” can be a relatively easy way to change colors of a single element in a rather uncomplicated image without much shadow present. Another option for the limits on the color replacement tool is “Contiguous” which tells Photoshop to continue to replace colors that are contiguous (or share a common border) to the color selected. The final option for setting limits on color replacement is to select “Discontinuous” which will tell Photoshop to sample the color under the pointer each time that the pointer is moved. Using the discontinuous method is not practical for replacing color on a small aspect of an image.

Setting Other Options on Color Replacement

Most tools in Photoshop will allow you to set a “tolerance” setting. The tolerance setting is what tells Photoshop how large of a range of colors it should replace; this is measured in a percent and the higher the percent the more colors are going to be replaced. The lower the tolerance percentage the fewer colors will be replaced during the color replacement function. There is also an option for “antialiasing” which can be checked to ensure that during the color replacement process the edges of aspects within the image receive a softer touch rather than a sharp crisp line. Using antialiasing will give a softer result but may give a less accurate color replacement experience. Antialiasing can be used alongside the “find edges” option to place a limit on the softening of edges and maintain some of the integrity of the original image.

The Big Wide World of Photoshop

One of the most amazing things about Photoshop exists because of the diversity of the program as well as its ability to function on a variety of platforms. This incredible reach allows for such a wide audience to utilize this designing playground that the sheer number of tutorials, tips and tricks that are available is mind-blowing. Bookstores have shelves of books dedicated solely to teaching you tricks to improve your Photoshop skill while the internet is simply brimming with websites and blogs willing to offer you free tidbits to help you to learn a little something new. The Photoshop community is a strange one in that it brings together complete groups of strangers as new tips are created and shared by individuals in the hopes of learning other tips that can prove useful in return. There are few industries that are as willing to share “trade secrets” in such a blatant manner as step by step instructions; however, the graphic design industry is one that takes much more than an elaborate program. Graphic designers use Photoshop as a tool, it is the expression of creativity that marks the work of one artist over another which is perhaps why there is no reluctance to share even the most complex tools with other members of the community. So whether you are a web design amateur looking to begin on your own, or whether you are a seasoned Photoshop user of a decade, there are still plenty of resources out there that offer the opportunity to broaden your skill level and implement new tricks with a little of your own style! There is other photo editing software out there, check out our reviews.

Amy grew up in England and in the early 1990's moved to North Carolina where she completed a bachelors degree in Psychology in 2001. Amy's personal interest in writing was sparked by her love of reading fiction and her creative writing hobby. Amy is currently self employed as a freelance writer and web designer. When she is not working Amy can be found curled up with a good book and her black Labrador, Jet.

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3 Comments on "Photoshop like a Pro with these Tips and Tricks"


Photos are becoming the thing of the web. I don’t think that people realize how important they are to websites. With the growing use of sites like Pinterest, the value of great photos is becoming clearer every day.

Personally, I’m not a great photographer. Every now and then I take some photos that impress me, but using photo software like this can really make a big difference when it comes to editing photos. I know Adobe is a popular program for doing just that. Many of my professional friends would be lost without this software. But, I hate to call them when I need help editing my photos.

What I love the most about this article is the fact that there is so much detail about how to use the software. For people like me who work more with text than photo, step by step instructions are invaluable. Thanks so much for putting this information out there for those of us who need the guidance!


This is a great break down of how to make Photoshop work for you. I have used different versions of it over the years, but I really have not come close to scratching the surface of its full functionality. I was truly one of those “learn as you go” type of people and generally speaking, I stay away from the tools I do not know or understand. In doing so I have left a lot of valuable and cool functions of the software on the shelf but I intend to fix that now.

I also appreciate the warning against downloading pirated versions of the software. It is a shame that we have to be so over-protective when it comes to downloading things on the internet, but the days of being able to freely download whatever you want are long gone. It makes perfect sense that a nefarious developer and thief would package their viruses or malware in a product that is so in-demand. I bet hundreds if not thousands of people get duped into downloading this stuff every year, glad I know what to look out for now.

As far as the tools go, I really liked the first one mentioned that erases the background behind an image, the magic extractor tool. You can really make some cool looking imagery doing this and I have wanted to alter some old photos this way for a long time. I have found that taking out the background of an image and replacing it with either a solid color or leaving it white creates a pretty dramatic effect.

What I really like about this guide is that it is written for someone who is a less-than-professional level photographer. I realize for professionals, the amount of functionality that a full version of Adobe Photoshop allows is what truly sets it apart, but it seems that the programmers have done a lot to make it more accessible to users like myself who really just want to edit their own personal photos to make them look sharper and more aesthetically pleasing. All the functions outlined here are perfect for that.


Fantastic, very useful tips, and I especially enjoyed the section on Adobe Photoshop’s history. I had no idea PS had been around since 1988! Talk about legacy


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