hidden photoshop tricks to improve editing
Efficiency & Productivity, Software for Retouching, Video Tutorial

Hidden Photoshop Tricks to Improve Your Editing

Photoshop is one of those applications with such a massive array of tools and settings that you can learn something new every day. This video tutorial by Brendan Williams may help you in that quest, as it is loaded with over a dozen tips and tricks that just might teach you how to edit your photos faster.

Below is a breakdown of the tricks shown in the video.

Quickly change your brush size with this shortcut. Hold Alt + Control + Click & Drag with your cursor. If you drag to the left, it will make the brush size smaller, while dragging to the right will make it larger. To adjust the hardness of your brush, you drag up to make it softer, or down to make it harder. While the bracket keys ( [ ] ) are commonly used for scaling the brush size, this method may become your new favorite trick.

Create a new layer with a keyboard shortcut. To do this, press Command / Control + Alt + Shift + N.

Lower the Opacity of a layer or tool by pressing 1-10. Rather than clicking on sliders to adjust the opacity of a layer, simply select your layer, and press the numbers on your keyboard to quickly change the opacity. Pressing 1 will give you 10% opacity, 6 will give you 60%, and 0 will reset it back to 100%. This shortcut will also change the opacity of several tools, such as the opacity of the Brush tool, or the exposure of the Dodge tool. Keep this in mind if you’re wondering why the layer’s opacity isn’t changing, as the tool you’re in may be what’s adjusted instead.

Quickly cycle or reset colors. If you want to reset your colors to black and white, press the D key on your keyboard to make black the foreground color, and white the background color. To quickly flip between these two, or any colors, press the X key.

How to Dodge & Burn Non-Destructively. If you wish to use the dodge and burn tools within Photoshop, you need to work on a layer that isn’t empty. To do this, use the shortcut Command / Control + Shift + N to create a new layer, change the blend mode to Soft Light or Overlay, and then check the box for Fill with Soft-Light / Overlay-neutral color (50% gray). Now that there is something physical for the brushes to adhere to, you can use the dodge and burn tools.

We recommend a different approach for dodging and burning, which you can learn more about in our Master Dodge & Burn Video Course.

Quickly cycle through tools. While you may know that the shortcut for the Brush tool is B, and the Healing Brush tools are J, you may not know that you can quickly cycle between those tools by pressing Shift + the appropriate shortcut, such as Shift + B for brushes.

Use the space bar to freely move around a Marquee tool selection. This makes scaling a selection much easier to accomplish, rather than repeatedly clicking and guessing how to create your shape for a certain selection. Keep in mind that this only works while you are holding down your cursor and creating your selection, not after it has been made.

Create Adjustment Layer Presets. If you find yourself using similar adjustments in a specific manner, or you made an adjustment layer and wish to apply it to several images of the same set, you can do so by creating a Preset. Once you have made the adjustments you wish to replicate, click on the 4 lines at the top right corner of the dialog box, and select “Save Preset.” After saving it, you can hop into another file, create an Adjustment layer, and then instead of selecting Save Preset, you will click on “Load Preset.”

Edit with two windows. This is extraordinarily helpful while retouching skin or other heavily detailed areas, as it allows you to have one view that is zoomed in, and one that is zoomed out, so you can review your work at two different perspectives. To accomplish this, go to Window > Arrange > New Window for <yourfilename.extension>. Once you’ve done that, go to Window > Arrange > 2-up Vertical. Now you can adjust your preferred zoom levels, and retouch as needed.

Merge layers non-destructively. If you are all set with your post-processing and wish to create a flattened copy of your document without losing all of the other layers, hit Shift + Click on all of your layers. Then press Command / Control + Alt + Shift + E. This will give you a merged, flattened layer at the top of your layer stack.

RELATED: Improve Your Workflow With These Hidden Gems in Photoshop

While it can be a challenge to memorize every shortcut available within Photoshop, committing these to memory will undoubtedly speed up your workflow.


Source: Brendan Williams | Image Source: Pixabay

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2 thoughts on “Hidden Photoshop Tricks to Improve Your Editing

  1. Thomas Jergel says:

    “Hold Alt + Control + Click & Drag with your cursor.” is just plain wrong, at least on PC.

    On PC, it is hold ALT + Right Click & Drag either upwards or sideways to change brush size respectively.

    1. Julia Kuzmenko McKim says:

      Thank you for sharing! Most of us at RA and our colleagues are Mac users and we often forget that there’s still Windows out there 😉

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