Photoshop Week is an extra exciting time, but with so many courses and events, it can be helpful to have a game plan to ensure you get the most from all the courses and instructors. Here are 5 tips to help you come away with basic Photoshop skills and more.
Embrace the Mess
What’s your creative process? How do your methods transfer to Photoshop? Do you have a direct or flawless approach to get from point A to B?
Social media can sometimes make it appear like everyone else has a process in place. Looking at completed project after project, you might feel like you’re the only one who works in circles, tries things that don’t work and makes more than one occasional u-turn.
The creative process is a messy one, both figuratively and literally. But somehow, we think of this mess as a weakness — a fault — or some sort of sign that we don’t know what we’re doing or that we’re not “there” yet.
Watching polished presentations by veteran instructors might exaggerate this feeling, too. How do they always dial in the exact blend mode, pixel radius, or tool setting to achieve their out-of-this-world results? How on Earth do they know all of those things so reliably and with such seemingly little effort?
Here’s the big secret. (Shhh!) It’s all about not being afraid to make a mess. To experiment. To try things that (likely) won’t work. The more you keep trying the things that ultimately fail, the closer you get to figuring out the things that succeed. And the more you do this, the better you get at guessing, and the shorter and slightly less messy your path from A to B gets. (Though, don’t kid yourself, it will always still be messy…)
As instructors, we’ve simply gotten better at guessing through years of trial and error—and that’s something anyone can do. It starts with embracing the mess. This will quickly improve basic Photoshop skills.
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How to Improve Your Photoshop Skills
Like anything else, it’s easy to fall into a certain way of using Photoshop to do the same type of tasks over and over again. People can work in Photoshop daily for 10 years, and still have very basic Photoshop skills.
Photoshop is a vast program for everything from forensic analysis to commercial retouching. Even if you use it primarily for family portrait photography, you never know what ideas and connections might come from watching a course about typography or HDR.
If creativity is about seeing and making connections, then stepping out of your box should be considered a job requirement. Take advantage of Photoshop Week to learn basic Photoshop skills and inspiration from a variety of course topics—especially the ones you have little interest in—and see what new ideas come your way.
Don’t Be Exclusive
Even if you think you know everything there is to know about layers and blend modes, learning how someone else applies that knowledge can spark new ideas and insights.
It can be especially useful during Photoshop Week to make an extra effort to check out courses by instructors you might otherwise overlook. It might just spark a new idea or give you a time-saving tip that unlocks a whole new world.
Get Out of the Weeds
Would you rather have a solid understanding of the concepts that make Photoshop sing or mindlessly use tools over and over again?
If you’re feverishly stressing about memorizing steps and instructions instead of understanding concepts—you’re in the weeds.
Stop and ask yourself why the instructor is doing something a particular way. Ask yourself what would happen if you tried it a different way.
Photoshop is nothing if not the ultimate “Choose Your Own Adventure” ride, as there are always five or more ways to achieve any effect. Naturally, each method has their own advantages and disadvantages, but if you don’t internalize and master the basic concepts, Photoshop will swallow you whole.
Ride Your Bike
Just like you can’t learn to ride a bike without actually getting on a bike, it’s impossible to learn basic Photoshop skills without practicing.
It’s important to watch Photoshop Week courses and make use of included course files, but it’s equally imperative to apply what you’ve learned in a different context. Recreate a similar project for a friend or try taking a concept you learned in another direction to flex those Photoshop muscles.
Photoshop isn’t something you learn and then are “done” learning. It’s always changing, as are industry standards and trends. So when you think about it, we’re all still learning basic Photoshop skills.
As daunting as that can seem when you’re at the very beginning of your adventure, the good news is, as long as you’re a Photoshop enthusiast—you’ll never be bored. So keep moving forward and the fun will never end.
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