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The 5 Commandments of Photoshop

Photo by  Fancycrave  on  Unsplash

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Photoshop. It's had such a big impact on our lives that it's also become a verb. 

Everyone - from professionals, to hobbies, to  old ass aunties who still put on their thigh high boots and "good wig" before they go out knows what Photoshop is. It's used for everything from high end work in the marketing and fashion industries, to messing around and making memes. If that's the case, then why do so many people still misuse it? 

Good question.

If you use Photoshop (PS) on a daily basis (for business or pleasure, but today I'm focusing on business), then there are a few things that you can do to make your life  - and the lives of your coworkers if you happen to work in an agency - a lot easier.

1. Layers, Layers, Layers! 

Layers should be a given, but they're not always used to their full potential. Everything you do is on a layer. If you need to do anything destructive on a layer, always do it on a blank layer so that you don't mess up your original layer. Or....

2. Copy, Copy, Copy!

Make a copy! Sometimes you want to try new or different things. Want to do something cool to your text and PS wants you to rasterize it? MAKE A COPY! You may need to come back later and edit that text, and if you've rasterized it all you have is an image that you can't do anything with. How do you do this? Make a copy! As long as you have a copy of your text, anytime something doesn't work or needs to be changed, you can always go back and edit it. 

3. Groups, Groups, Groups!

Groups are your friend! When you have lots of pieces floating around, it's very helpful to keep similar elements organized together so that you can easily find or edit them. Need to fix a button? Having all of your buttons in one group saves you from having to hunt through various layers just to find that one "white rectangle" that you need. Another thing that's very helpful is...

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4. Name, Name, Name!

NAMING! I know, when you're moving quickly, you're creating things and not thinking about naming. Trust me, when you get 60 layers into your design, and realize that you should probably group things (which you should have done from the start, but I forgive you), names will save your ass. "Does THIS white rectangle go with THIS text, or this other text over here?". "Was that logo block layer 22 or layer  3?". You'll find yourself asking these questions several times - it's much easier to name as you go along, OR name after say, every 5 layers. Naming and Grouping is one of the best combos. Name a better duo. I'll wait.

See all these unnamed and ungrouped layers? Don't do this.

See all these unnamed and ungrouped layers? Don't do this.


5. Mask on, f*%! it, mask off

Masking. Maybe you want to get creative and erase parts of your text and have them overlap. Maybe you only want to use half a picture. Do you erase it? Do you rasterize that text (HINT: The answer is NO)? Drop a mask on it! Once again you never know when you may want to go back and edit the original or something, or you just don't like what you've done. Using a mask allows you to non-destructively make changes and if you don't like it, you can scrap it and go back to normal. Rasterizing and Erasing (not the best duo) WILL work, but they are permanent, and if you're not luck enough to have a long "undo" history, you're losing work and wasting time.

Don't find yourself like this.

Don't find yourself like this.

As with anything there are many ways to do everything in Photoshop. These are as always just preferences, BUT ones that I've found that have saved my ass more than once and generally made my work and design life much, MUCH easier (and easier on those that may have to work on my files after me). 

What are some of your favorite photoshop best practices?