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The Epic Photoshop help thread.


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This is the 'Epic Photoshop Help Thread' - somewhere you can find links, advice, help and resources, all in one place. Anyone is free to post here with any questions, and all the content I post here is free.

The guide is broken down into digestable sections, as follows:

  • Starting out
  • Improving your technique
  • Tutorials

- Starting Out -

Starting out in photoshop for the first time can be pretty weird, there's a whole load of buttons you don't understand, which don't work, and strange panels showing strange numbers and stranger diagrams. The best way to overcome this is to... try everything out. Here's a diagram which outlines the basic tools you'll find on screen and what they'll do.

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Part 1 - Interface, tools, and shortcuts

Part 2 - Typography, photo manipulation, and buttons

Part 3 - Tutorials, sites and inspiration


10 Ways to improve your Photoshop skills

This is a simply fantastic article that has already helped me no end. It contains loads of practical, attainable advice that genuinely help. Included in the list are a load of fantastic tutorial sites (most are linked in the section below for convenience), links to blogs, galleries and the like. It's written and compiled by Steven Snell, and brought to you by PSDTuts, one of my personal favourite tutorial sites.

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10 Ways to improve your Photoshop skills - Experimenting, Fundamentals, Blogging and more...</table>


One of the best ways to continually produce fresh, original work of a high standard is to get inspired. Even if you try to recreate something by someone else, it can push new things into your grasp, give you new ideas to apply to new pieces, and help you to see what looks good from the public's perspective. Abduzeedo's 'Daily Inspiration' is right at the top of my bookmarks list, and I find it way better than any tutorial. It helps me to keep in tune with the new design movements, and also pushes me to up my game to the same standards. It's all chosen by the public, so it's there by common vote. Even if you see nothing you like today, chances are you will tomorrow. There's about 140-something backed up 'episodes' to flick through when you're bored / have a block. Enjoy.

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Abduzeedo's 'daily inspiration' section.</table>

The best Tutorial sites

Yeah, a pretty big list here, so I'd recommend taking it easy, I know it's not exactly in a digestible format, for which I apologize. Also not that you should probably have at least a basic knowledge with photoshop (see the sections above) before starting.

Alot of these sites are part of a huge multimedia network, and might overlap in some areas, but not to worry.

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Tutorial9PSHeroTutzorAbduzeedoHongkiatPSDtutsPSDlearningPSDfanBittBoxGood-tutorialsTutorializedZymicPegaWebPhotoshopSupportPhotoshopTipsDzine blog TutorialsGoMediaZineTutVidWeb Design LibraryPixel2Life


You can find a few pre - CS tutorials (for Photoshop 6 / 7 / elements) at:

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IdigitalEmotion YellowPipe


Thanks to TM, EvoZ and Toxic for contributions! Remember to add any you may have by replying to this thread!

Shortcuts, hints and tips

A nice, straightforward list, these shortcuts are all designed to speed up / increase the efficiency of your work, and make life easier, and more comfortable for you. I'll try to add to this list constantly, so watch this space.

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D</table> Resets your colour palette to black and white.

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X</table> Swaps foreground and background colours in your palette. (Useful especially when layer masking)

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T</table>Type Tool.

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V</table>Move Tool.

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B</table>Brush tool (Or an alternative tool, depending on which is selected in place of the brush)

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G</table>Paint Bucket (Or Gradient)

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I</table>Selects the “eyedropper tool”

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Spacebar</table>Hold, then click + drag to move around the layer.

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Ctrl + J</table>Duplicates the selected layer.

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Ctrl + A</table>Select all (Entire canvas)

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Ctrl + S</table>Save.

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Ctrl + E</table>Merges the selected layer selected layer with the one below it.

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Ctrl + Shift + N</table>Creates a new layer ( Add alt into the mix to get the full 'new layer' dialogue)

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Ctrl + T</table>Free Transform current layer. (Resize / Rotate, etc)

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Ctrl + D</table>Deselect / clear selection.

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Ctrl + G</table>Groups selected layers into a folder in the layer palette. (Great for crowded palettes, and keeping things neat)

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Ctrl + Alt + Z</table>Undo (Goes back as far as history allows)

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Alt + Scroll</table>Zoom in/out on document.

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Ctrl + R</table>Display / hide rulers. (Right click on the rulers to change units)

Resources - Textures, Brushes, Fonts, and more.

Everyone loves freebies, and here's a good chunk of the best.

Stock Images:

www.sxc.hu (The 'stock exchange') is a simply awesome free stock images site. You get what you pay for really, so it's by no means comparable to paid for services, but great for personal projects nonetheless.

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Textures and brushes:

Bittbox has one of the best, ever growing freebies sections around for Photoshop users, and is recommended by alot of the sites linked above. Not such a great selection for fonts as some, (see below for that) but for everything else, it's really good.

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BittBox - the awesome freebies section</table>

Typefaces / fonts:

Dafont is quite simply, the best free fonts site on the net, they have loads of files for both PC and Mac users.

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Dafont - free fonts</table>

(If you don't know how to install these, see below in the FAQ's section) (doesn't exist yet)


Brushes are a great way to expand what you can do with Photoshop, making complex, professional shapes easily attainable, letting you get the effect you want much more easily and quickly. Here are some of the best sites for free brushes:

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Get Brushes</table>

Bonus: Smoke Resources!

I do agree that creating smoke manually in Photoshop is dull, time consuming, and it always comes out shit anyway. There's no shame in using brushes / stock images for this kind of thing, you shouldn't let your creativity be restricted.

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Smoke Brushes - courtesy of qbrushes.</table>

Also worth checking out is PhotshopStock's deviantart page, where you can get these 2 brush packs. The first is quite big in size, broken into 3 downloads, as there's a reported 40 super high res brushes. The second one is a standard ABR file, and isn't so big.

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Brush Pack #1 </table>

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Brush Pack #2 </table>

Yet another pack can be found, courtesy of getbrushes.com here

Another site worth checking out is Designious, they mostly sell vector packs for a few dollars, but they have a small freebie selection, mainly samples, which can be found here.


How do I install fonts?

1. Download a font file from one of the sources above.

2. If it's in a .zip file, extract it, and grab a hold of the file.

3. Right click, and choose cut/copy on the file.

4. Open Control panel, click on fonts, and paste it in there, amongst all the other files.

5. Wait for the dialog box to finish doing it's thang.

6. Load up PS, and it will be in your fonts menu.

How do I install brushes?

1. Follow the directions above, up to 3.

4. Paste the brush file (.abr) into C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop\Presets\Brushes

5. Load up PS, and find it in your brushes menu.

What is a vector?

This is a quoted post by me later on in this thread, and should shed some light on the matter...

What are vectors?

Vector images are images generated by a program such as Photoshop (or, more successfully, Illustrator). What separates theses images from regular images (such as jpg, png, gif) is that they can be resized, up or down, as many times as you like with no loss of quality, at all. A common use for this method would be a company logo. They might need to put this logo on a letter (quite small) or on a billboard (huge) One single vector image could handle both of these easily, because you only need one file, which won't go down in quality.

Any image created by using the shape tool in Photoshop, or generated through using paths, is a vector.

Vector images, though, don't hold a universally viewable file type. That means you can't save them for viewing on your PC without special software (PS, illustrator, etc) And they also will not display for web users.. The most common file types for vectors, though are .eps and .ai .

Visual example:


What do I think about vectors?

being a graphic designer / student of I'm pretty much obliged to say I think they're awesome, and far more versatile as far as industry is concerned, since 9 / 10 times, logos are required to be vectors, instead of regular 'raster' images.

I also think that many people have the tendency to call some images 'vector art' - this only applies, really if the image is 100% vector, and can be scaled as such, with no quality loss. That is not to say a combination of images derived from vectors and raster images can't look good, it's just a matter of me being a bit funny about terminology, as most designers do tend to be.

This thread is awesome! How can I help?

Well, you can either get posting your links, suggestions and comments in this topic, and/or wear the PS help thread userbar (below) using the following code in your sig: (This will link to this thread and show your support for the cause)

All of the material in this post is copyright of it's original creator(s) and owner(s), I have simply compiled it into one place and take no credit for it's creation.

So... feel free to post, comment, advise, share, form an angry mob, or criticise any of the content here. It's all just here to help you.

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Nice, I am definitely going to stick with this topic too. Those shortcuts are also helpful, considering I don't use shortcuts alot, maybe now I can.

Also to add on to the "Best Tutorial Sites":

Good-Tutorials - Have PS TUTs on there and many others too, one place I visited when I was a PS noob.

Tutorialized - Used this as well for PS tutorials, pretty good stuff on there.

Zymic - Although they do web hosting, they have so much tutorials on Photoshop and everything else. Good stuff on there + For those web enthusiasts, this the perfect place the brush up on that aswell.

PegaWeb - I found this just recently, got some stuff for those who are doing natural effects/filters etc.

PhotoshopSupport - I visited this site a few times, seems decent, has tutorials for photoshop.

I'll post more whenever I can.

Edited by TM™
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Would anyone here know why my brushes don't work?


Make sure your layer's unlocked.

Make sure your image mode is RGB, not CMYK.

Make sure your brushes are in your PS directory.

Make sure you have the brush tool selected instead of pencil tool.

I still don't know how to use Layer Masks though

Choose your layer.

Click the icon at the bottom of the layers palette that had a circle in a rectangle. See a new thumbnail appear next to your layer.

Now, a black brush becomes an eraser. White brushing will undo erasing.

Also thanks to.... *looks* xlr8 for the links. I'll add then when I'm not on the brink of exhaustion.

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Make sure your layer's unlocked.

Make sure your image mode is RGB, not CMYK.

Make sure your brushes are in your PS directory.

Make sure you have the brush tool selected instead of pencil tool.

Bingo. Thanks a ton. Now I can make better shit. You are is Photoshop king! :awesome:

I would make you a "Photoshop King" sig, but you'd probably do a better job. :lolbounce:

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  • 2 weeks later...

You've actually done a really good job... The only things i could recommend are maybe making the system a touch smaller, and 'further in' to the image, so it's further in here hands. Other than that, really good.

Oh, and maybe clean up the top right hand corner of the DS a bit, looks a touch sharp, give it a bit more blur, and take away the jaggies. :)

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You've actually done a really good job... The only things i could recommend are maybe making the system a touch smaller, and 'further in' to the image, so it's further in her hands. Other than that, really good.

Oh, and maybe clean up the top right hand corner of the DS a bit, looks a touch sharp, give it a bit more blur, and take away the jaggies. :)

Gee, thanks... As for adjusting the DS' position, I dunno, but how can I 'further in' the console? Oh, and thanks for pointing the jagged edge, haven't noticed that one yet...

EDIT: Here's the adjusted image:


Edited by Huckleberry Pie
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  • 1 month later...

^Yes sir ..

I was wondering if i could add in a few links.

Dineblog - Very nice text effects tutorials, good resources too.

GoMediaZine - Another good tut site, Not really for beginners though.

Tutvid - A good video tutorial site.

Pixel2life - Good site, Lots of Tuts.

GuildInn - More of a forum, There are some cool tutorials and resources down there. Friendly community too, Haven't been on there too much though. If you wanna learn some cool stuff, participate in competitions etc its a good site.

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