Carl Rutherford Written by

Adobe Photoshop celebrates its 25th birthday

Posted on 20th February, 2015 in Illustration, Design, Digital

The photo-editing tool Adobe Photoshop has reached it’s 25th birthday this week and to celebrate they have launched an advertising campaign featuring work from artists and iconic movie images that used Photoshop. Some examples include Avatar, Gone Girl, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Shrek.

Photoshop has been an industry favourite for quite some time now and its ability to evolve and develop means it has gone, for the most part, unrivalled. The software is used within a variety of fields in the creative industries and it is certainly a huge part of the Cargo workflow.

To help celebrate this landmark we thought we would share a few simple tips that will help you get the best out of Photoshop.

Photoshop has been an industry favourite for quite some time now and its ability to evolve and develop means it has gone, for the most part, unrivalled.

1. Customise your Workspace

Spend some time setting up and saving your workspace. This allows you to arrange the panels to suit your needs and to create a photoshop environment you know like the back of your hand. Also don’t just think you have to set up one workspace to suit all your day to day needs, try customising further and have them personalised towards tasks or areas of your work. For example, I have one workspace set up for designing websites whilst I have another set up for image editing.

To create a new workspace go to Window > Workspace > New Workspace.

2. Organise your Layers
When creating a photoshop document make sure you name and nest your layers as you go. This becomes even more apparent when in a working environment. You never know when you may have to re-visit a document, or hand it over to another member of your team. It’s much more efficient for everyone involved if the layers make sense and are usable.

3. Swatches
When working for recurring clients you can save their brand colours into your swatches palette for future use. This not only helps by making the colours instantly accessible without having to go back through old jobs or guidelines, but it also means your colours are consistent every time you use them.

4. Smart Objects
Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images and preserve an image’s source content with all its original characteristics.If like me you use other software like Illustrator alongside Photoshop then you will really like using smart objects. You can scale, rotate, skew, distort, perspective transform, or warp a layer without losing original image quality.

This means you can use vector files, that otherwise would be rasterized in Photoshop and open, edit and re-save that file at any time. This not only updates the file but then updates any styles and effects you have on that smart object.

5. Guides
Guides and in particular Smart Guides are a great way to quickly align elements. As you move layers or objects around the canvas in Photoshop it will automatically show and snap to adjacent objects. A note of caution would be to always double check your smart guides because I have found it to be slightly unreliable on occasion.

Another great tip is to find a Photoshop plugin that helps align guides into grids and columns for you. I personally use guide guide, of which I simply punch in the number of columns, spacing, gutter or width I need and it automatically sets out my guides.

6. Actions
Photoshop actions are a great way to complete repetitive or regular tasks with very little effort. Actions allow you to record a step by step process and press a play button that makes Photoshop automatically carry out the task again and again. My most common example is setting up images for print, where I have an action that converts to CMYK, checks the resolution and saves as a high resolution tiff file. When carried out over a brochure full of images or headshots for a website it can save you a great deal of time.

You can access the Actions panel by going to Windows > Actions.

7. Photoshop Preferences
Set up your preferences to help with your working process. I have found that increasing my history states helps when exploring designs or layouts as it allows you to go back to previous designs with ease. However, be aware that too many states on a single document will usually result in Photoshop using a lot of your systems RAM. So approach this on the side of caution.

In addition to this you can alter the amount of cache levels you need on your document. Photoshop defaults at 4 levels and the number of levels can be increased to a maximum of 8. Depending on the cache levels you have selected it will allow Photoshop to perform faster as you work on the document. If you are working with high-resolution images it is best to raise the cache level as the speed performance will compensate for the memory loss. Equally if you have a low RAM or are working with small images you may want to lower the value of the cache level so that Photoshop can allocate the RAM elsewhere.

To edit these preferences go to Photoshop > Preferences > Performance.

8. System Specification
The final way to make sure you to get the best out of Photoshop is to ensure that your system is running a specification that can handle the work you are doing. The easiest way I have found to do this is to  simply add more memory to the system. For example, with an older iMac I was once using I couldn’t work on two website design documents at the same time without our lovely friend the colour wheel having a good old spin after every action. After adding some memory to my machine I was able to work on multiple documents with no problems.

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