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Tutorials + Resources

Intro to Photoshop

Written by: Mei Lin Lee-Stahr | Fall Quarter 2022


Why Should You Use Photoshop?

Photoshop is a powerful photo editing and drawing program designed for digital altering and creating images. Photoshop is used by many professional level photographers, graphic designers as well as people looking for a way to take their design or photo editing skills to the next level. 

While there are many free photo editing apps out there, Photoshop provides with more options and more powerful tools to help you accomplish your project's goal. 

Starting Out

Photoshop is a desktop app, so if you have not already downloaded it, go to Adobe's website to download it. IMPORTANT: UCSC provides students with free access to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, so make sure you're SIGNED IN to your email before you download photoshop to avoid the monthly payment. 

Download it here.

Home Page

Once downloaded, open photoshop to this page:

This is the the home page. Every time you open the app, you will see this. You can access your recent documents and create new ones from this page. 

Getting Started

To get started, click "Create New"

You can edit the size of the canvas here. (Note: Your DPI should almost always be 300. Also make sure you're in the right units! 8.5x11 inches is very different from 8.5x11 pixels)

Creating Your First Photoshop document

Once your document is created, this screen will pop up. This is your workspace: 

There are five main sections on this page that are your tools. Let's walk through what each of these sections do. 

sections of photoshop

  1. These are your tools; through this sidebar you can use various selection, brush and text tools as well as many others.
  2. This is your canvas; your creation goes here
  3. This is your color selection tool, you can select custom colors by dragging the little circle for different shades of one color and the little triangle for different colors
  4. This is the layer section, if you use more than one layer in a piece, then you can edit them individually here
  5. This is the main toolbar where you can make specific edits to different tools (i.e. edit text or brush size etc)

Some Helpful Tools

1. Brush tool: draw on the canvas using this tool. To draw a straight line hold down the shift key while drawing on the canvas

2. Eraser tool: use it like the brush tool to erase drawn lines or even parts of photos in your piece

How to adjust these tools:

Adjust size: drag the slider right to make the brush larger, and left to make it smaller

Adjust hardness: this is how clean the edges are. The harder the brush is, the cleaner the edges will be, the softer, the more of an airbrush effect you will get

How to import a photo:

You can import JPG/JPEG or PNG files to Photoshop

Step 1: Go File > Open… or press Ctrl (or Cmd on a Mac) O

Step 2: Find the file you want to (it has to already be saved to your computer) and click “Open”

Once you have the file, click open and Photoshop will open this photo in a new tab:

Unless opening a PNG file, Photoshop will automatically “Lock” the layer. This means that you cannot edit anything directly on the layer. In order to edit the image, or move it into your original canvas, click on the lock symbol. 

Step 3: Use the “Move” tool in the top left corner of the tool bar, to drag your image onto your canvas. 

Keep dragging until your mouse cursor hovers over the tab with your original canvas. Photoshop will automatically switch to that canvas, and once you are on your original canvas, release your mouse. You should see your photo appear now.

Always remember to save your work! File > Save or Ctrl/Cmd S to save your work


Helpful tools and shortcuts when editing photos: 

Ctrl or Command T to change size and position. 

Move tool to change position along the canvas 

Selection tool (looks like a lasso or dotted circle can isolate a certain part of a photo to delete or edit 

Ctrl/Cmd Z - Undo

Ctrl/Cmd S - Save

Ctrl/Cmd X - Cut

Ctrl/Cmd C - Copy 

Ctrl/Cmd V - Paste 

Ctrl/Cmd T - Transform (use this to edit size and placement of element)

How to add text:

You will find the text tool as a “T” on the left toolbar.

Click this and a text cursor will appear. Then find the spot you want to put text and click on it. Photoshop will automatically add filler text of “lorem ipsum” make sure this text is highlighted and type in your text

Then click the check button on the top toolbar when finished with typing. 

To edit the font, click on the font name:

To edit the style of the font click “Regular” and a drop down menu will appear:

Whenever you make edits to the texts, make sure you click the check mark to save the changes! 

If you want to make edits afterwards, just double click the text and the cursor will reappear.