Learn to use Photoshop with these basic and easy tricks

Photoshop can seem like a confusing, complex program. A very complete and essential program for any lover of photography and design. Although there are many options and possibilities, there are some basic Photoshop tricks that should be taken into account when facing our first touch-ups. It is essential to know how to crop, outline, add filters and effects or a watermark.

We go over some of the basic tips for using Photoshop as a beginner.


There are several types of cutouts in Photoshop. You can cut an image to the shape you want, or you can outline a drawing, for example.

Crop images and resize

Reordering images is very simple and we simply have to go to the tool icon with a square in the menu part. This will give us the option to cut manually or to choose exact proportions. It is especially useful if you want to use an image for a blog and you need it to have a specific size, for example.

When you choose the cropping tool, a bar appears at the top where we can choose the proportion, the resolution or some predefined proportions such as 1: 1 or 4: 3, for example. Once you choose this, the trim lines are adjusted so that the final result fits what you need.

Also in the upper part we can touch on the ” straighten ” button that will help us to place the image straight if it is a photograph that has not turned out well. There are very common cases in which the horizon line in our countries is not exactly straight and with only this button we can set it correctly.

Cut out silhouettes

If you have an image with a transparent background in PNG you will not need this but you may want to remove the background or outline a drawing to make a montage. In that case, Photoshop allows us to do it by following a few simple steps. There are several options to do it, although we do not explain all of them but some of the most frequent and that may be more useful.

  • Use the pen

The first thing we are going to do is open the image that we want to treat in our Photoshop canvas and then we select the pen tool and make sure that the preference is in trace mode. Once this is done, we are ready to start outlining the image we want to crop. To do this, we are clicking with the pen tool around the entire contour of the image, we will see that with each click a small square will appear to cut out a person in Photoshop.

The closer the squares are to each other, the more accurately we will make the cutout. Once we get back to the first frame, we will see how  the mouse cursor shows a circle , which means that we are going to  close the selection . Once closed, we will see how  our selection appears in the  paths palette . We double click on it and assign it a name. The next thing we are going to do is click with the right mouse button on the path and choose the Make selection option  .

This will show us a window where we must choose the  fade radius , which will take a few pixels from the edge of the image and blur them so that the clipping is not noticeable. Here we have to play with the value of the radius until we get the desired effect.

Now, with the selection of the active cutout, we only have to press Ctrl + J to create a new layer with the selection of the cut made and we will have the selected image with a transparent background ready to be used in another image and make any montage. Undoubtedly a simple way to achieve it, using the pen tool, although it must be said that it offers many other possibilities, but stopping it requires a bit more experience.

  • Smart selection

If the background is not of a homogeneous color and therefore its selection is complicated and it is not enough with the magic wand, we can use one of the most useful tools in Photoshop for this type of task. We refer to the quick selection or smart selection tool. From current versions of Photoshop we can find the smart selection tool in the toolbar.

Using it is very simple and we simply have to press and select the piece of image that we want to outline. It will automatically recognize the different objects and mark them. Keep in mind that it will be much easier if there are fewer distractions in the background or if it is a homogeneous background of a single color.

  • Subject selection

We will also find this tool where the previous one, although it is less automatic, but we can control it manually. Once the tool is selected, we will see how the options bar of said tool appears at the top of the Photoshop interface Among all of them, we will see the Subject Selection option  , an option that will help us a lot in our goal of removing the background from an image.

As its name suggests, it is designed to select the subject of an image, so regardless of whether it is a person or something else, by clicking on this option we will see how the tool processes the image and makes a  first automatic selection  of it. which he understands as the subject of the image. If it is a person, it will make a selection of its silhouette or contour and if it is something else, such as a monument, landscape or object, among others, it will try to select everything except the background of the image. If the selection made by the tool is correct, we only have to make an inverse selection, which will leave us selected just the opposite, the background, and use the Delete key or eraser tool to  remove the background of an image.

Add filters, effects …

There are different ways to apply filters in Photoshop.

Add filters

The first one is through the Filter menu , where we can find all the filters available in Photoshop to be able to apply them individually. Therefore, if we want to apply any filter individually to one of our photos or images, all we have to do is select the layer on which we want to apply the filter and from the Filter menu option , choose the one we want to apply.

Another way to apply filters is through  Photoshop’s Filter Gallery . To access this option, just go to the Filters menu option and select Filter Gallery. This will show us a new window within Photoshop in which the image or layer on which we want to apply the filter is shown and the filters that we can apply organized by categories, Artistic, Sketch, Distort, Stylize, Texture or Brush strokes.

If we display the filter options in Photoshop within each of these categories, we will be shown a series of examples of each and every one of the filters available within that category so that we can see the effect it would have on an example image. In this way, we can get used to the idea of ​​how our image would look, although we can also see it quickly if we select any of these filters, since it will be applied directly to our photo and we can see the result in the left part of the window.

But without a doubt, one of the best options to apply filters in Photoshop to your images that the Filter Gallery offers us, is the possibility of  combining several filters on the same image . To do this, all we have to do is apply a first filter from the Filter Gallery and then, in the right pane of the window where the layer with the filter that we have applied is shown, click on the new effect layer button .

Apply effects

To apply effects in Photoshop, of those  preset  by the Adobe tool, the first thing we have to do is go to the Window menu option   and check the Styles option  . This will automatically make us see the panel of predefined styles in Photoshop that we can  apply to the layers of our image . To apply any of these styles to one or more layers of our photo, all we have to do is select them and then click on the style that we want. We can also drag the style from the Styles panel and drop it on the layer where we want to apply it.

Automatically, as soon as we apply a style to a layer, we will see how in the layers panel an icon appears on the right side with the fx symbol, which when displayed will show us  each and every one of the effects applied by that style . Therefore, in this way we will be applying effects in Photoshop automatically and by default according to the styles offered by the Adobe tool itself.

From the Styles Panel, if we click on the menu button, we will see that we will be shown a series of options such as creating a new style, saving styles, replacing them and a series of effects such as abstract styles,  image effects or text effects that we can add to the Styles Panel. The effects that we have applied to a layer from any of the predefined styles, we can copy and apply them to another layer if we keep the Alt + Windows keys  pressed and drag and drop the effects from one layer to another.

To modify the parameters of some of the effects in Photoshop that are applied with the predefined layer styles, all we have to do is click on it from the layers panel and the  Layer Style window will automatically open  with the selected effect and all the options that we can change and customize to achieve the desired effect.

From this same window, we can also create our own layer styles with the effects we want. The effects in Photoshop are the  Drop Shadow,  which adds a shadow that is placed behind the content of the layer,  Inner Shadow,  which adds a shadow that is placed just inside the edges of the content of the layer, which gives the layer a hollow look,  Outer Glow and Inner Glow, add glows from the inner or outer edges of the layer content,  Bevel and Emboss, add various combinations of highlights  and shadows to a layer,  Satin,  which applies inner shading that creates a satin finish, Color, Gradient and Pattern Overlay,  which fills the content of the layer with Color, a Gradient, or a Pattern and  Stroke,  which as its name suggests traces the outline of the current layer’s object using a Color, Gradient, or a reason. This is especially useful for well-defined shapes, such as text.

Motion effect

For example, if you want to give movement to characters or a photograph where someone jumps out, runs … We can do it with Photoshop although it is somewhat more complicated than adding a simple filter. The first thing to do is choose the lasso tool and make a selection  around the woman . We leave a little space so as not to get into the silhouette itself and we do not need to be too rigorous when making the selection, since later we will be able to  add or remove part of the selection  from the buttons that are shown just below the menu options File and Edit,  Add to Selection or Subtract from Selection .

Once we have adjusted the selection to our liking, we press the key combination  Ctrl + J  and we will see how a  new layer is created with the selection made . With it selected, we go to the tools menu and select the  finger one , which we can find within the blur tool.

Once this is done, we go to the Edit> Define Brush Value menu  , give it a name and press OK.

Now, if we go to our  Photoshop brushes , we will see  the one we just created appears at the end , we select it and with the finger tool selected we go to the tab that allows us to regulate the brushes. Here we must  uncheck the Spacing box  so that we do not occupy a lot of memory and we will leave the rest of the values ​​as they come by default.

The next thing is to uncheck the selection of the layer that we have created and  drag  from the silhouette of the woman to the side where we want to apply the effect. Depending on the speed with which we drag the mouse, this way we will achieve a  more continuous or discontinuous trail .

Other practical tips

We can make the process easier with automatic actions, for example. There are many basic options or tricks for learning Photoshop.

Automatic actions

If you are one of those who often use the Adobe tool, it is likely that you have noticed how every day there are several processes that you repeat over and over again to apply a certain effect on an image, resize it, crop it, apply a filter , etc. For this reason, we are going to show below how to create automatic actions in Photoshop so that with one click, we can perform several actions that we usually repeat frequently automatically. These automatic actions in Photoshop allow us to record various actions on our images and later reproduce them so that they are executed automatically. In this way, we can save time and effort when executing certain commands repeatedly.

To create automatic actions the steps are:

  • We open Photoshop on our computer
  • We open the file we want
  • We go to the Window menu at the top
  • We choose the Actions section
  • The tool will be opened
  • Click on “Create a new action”

Here, a new window will open where we have to indicate the name of the action, a group of actions and other options such as the function key or the color for the button mode display. Of course, we must be careful, since if we assign to an action the same function key that is used for a command, this shortcut will be applied to the action and not to the command.

With all the parameters established for our action, we click on the Record button and we begin to execute the commands and automatic actions in Photoshop that we want to record. Although it is not possible to record all tasks, it is possible to add them manually using the commands in the Action Pane menu.

To stop the recording of automatic actions in Photoshop once we have finished executing all the actions, just click on the Stop button that is displayed at the bottom of the Actions Panel or press the Escape key. As soon as the recording is finished, the action  will appear in the Actions Panel  and we will be able to see each of the recorded actions. To execute this action, all we have to do is select it in the Actions Panel and click on the Play button.

It is also possible to include a stop when recording automatic actions in Photoshop, in this way, we can perform a task that cannot be recorded and then click the Play button again to complete the action.

From the Actions panel menu we choose the  Insert menu item  option and with the dialog box open, we select a command from the menu to finally click Ok. As we can see, from the options of the Actions Panel menu we will also have access to other actions on the automatic actions in Photoshop that we have created.

Add watermarks

You can protect your photos with watermarks so that no one can remove them. If you have created an image, drawing or have taken a photograph that you want to share on the Internet but you do not want others to be able to use it or claim ownership, it is best to protect it with a watermark. There are a few simple steps we follow …

We must take into account not to put them in corners since they can eliminate or cut them, for example. And that they do not disturb the essence of the image.

  • Open Photoshop
  • Go to File  in the upper left
  • Tap on “New”
  • Choose the details
    • Choose a name (“Watermark” or similar)
    • Choose the size you want to have from the image
    • Go to “Background content” and check “Transparent”
  • Press OK
  • Go to the text box and write what you want (your name, your brand …)
  • Edit the text until it is the way you like it
    • Change the size
    • Change font
    • Change the color
    • Put bold
    • Add a second line if you want
  • Confirm and save
  • If you already have the text, you will have to go to the top menu
  • Find “Image”
  • Choose “Cut” and “Based on Transparent Pixels”
  • Tap OK and the image will fit the size of the watermark

If you don’t want to create it but use an image, you can do that too.

  • Open the image
  • Go to the top left of the screen, File
  • Choose “Place embedded element”
  • Find the watermark you have on your computer
  • The watermark will appear on the screen
  • Resize and move

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