Photoshop for Beginners

Please do not take offense to the term "Newbie". Trust me... everybody's been one at least once. Even me!
By going through the 3 simple ideas on this page, we hope to come away with at least this one important thing... cutting down your learning curve as much as possible! And don't forget, you can also check out the PSG Forum to find answers and post questions, as well as post any images you'd like to show off, or have other visitors respond to.

Let's get this out of the way first...
Don't EVER think that just because you cannot create or recreate something exactly like someone else that that is a BAD thing...
it's most definitely NOT. It's a GOOD thing. Trust me! What's most important about doing ANY tutorials, is whether you learned the specified techniques it describes. And whether it's helped you in any way to learn to use Photoshop better than you knew how to before the tutorial. That's the ONLY merit any tutorial could ever hope to have. It's not about creating spectacular graphics when you're just beginning. It's about learning to use Photoshop; substance is much more important than quality at this stage. The 'great graphics' will come in time all on their own. Please believe that.

Straightening the learning curve...
The time you spend doing the things I will suggest on this page will help you to get the most out of the new and, no doubt, exciting things that you will be learning from all of the Photoshop sites on the web that you go to. Not just mine.

Don't misunderstand me here though. I'm not saying that you shouldn't go out and try all of the cool effects tutorials out on the web. What I'm merely saying is that if you find yourself confused about something, or an effect doesn't work quite the way you thought it should, then do these things first before giving up on it or mailing someone for help. Or as I like to think...

“Try getting your feet wet in the pool of your own knowledge first,
before asking someone else to let you soak in theirs.”


1. Look in the help file under "edit"
There is where you will find a whole lot of information on most of the tools and basic functions of Photoshop

2. Open a picture or photograph
With the image opened, browse around in the menus and try things out. This will take you all of an hour or so, but believe me, the next time you try someone's tutorials you'll be much more comfortable & confident following the instructions they're trying to explain to you.

What I mean by browse is, have a look at the content of Photoshop's many menus.

Open the IMAGE menu and apply some functions.
Open the IMAGE/Adjustment... menu and apply ALL of the functions in that menu.
Open the LAYER menu and apply ALL of the functions in that menu.

This will take a bit of time, but I'll tell you right now that the functions contained in the LAYER menu are the most misunderstood and unexplored functions that you'll find in tutorials around the web; including mine! If you can get even a slight understanding of the functions under the LAYER menu, as well as remembering where they are when you need them, you'll be a lot farther along when it comes to learning other people's tutorials.



Here's something I'll do EVERY TIME I'm trying to achieve an effect I'm not familiar with, or an effect I'm doing for the first time: (even if it's a very simple effect!)

When I try out different filters/techniques, looking for the one that'll get the effect I'm after, I'll try AT LEAST 3 settings for each filter/technique I try - low settings (subtle effect), medium settings (average effect), & high settings (extreme effect). After doing that with a variety of the filters, and doing that every time you are looking for a specific effect, you'll very quickly start to learn what each filter is capable of - and most of the time, you'll also discover that every PS filter can be used for at least 1 other type of effect that it was not originally designed to produce (usually it's more than 1). And THAT is what will teach you more about Photoshop than any book (or PS Guru) ever could.

A good side-tip to that advice is to scour the Web and see what others have done with PS. That can also provide you with some ideas of the program's abilities. And, a lot of the time, it'll inspire you to try something specific yourself - which will lead you to the process I mentioned above.

3. Create a new document with a transparent background
Now use the Type Tool and create a text image. By default, Photoshop should automatically turn on or check the 'Preserve Transparency' box for a text layer; located on the top left side of the Layers palette. This is now called 'Lock Transparency' in PS6 and up.

» In PS 5.5 and earlier:The only time it doesn't do this is if you've created a new layer for your text yourself first.
» In PS6 and up: Photoshop will always 'Lock' layer transparency -- even after you've 'Rasterized' the layer.

Now, so long as that is checked on, anything that you do to the text in your layer WILL NOT affect the area surrounding the text. It will only affect the area that is inside the text itself -- the pixels that make up the letters. Thus, Photoshop is 'preserving' the transparent areas of the layer; if there is any.

So... knowing that now, go ahead and do things to your Type layer. Apply filters, paint a different color into it, apply the Spherize & Twirl filters to it. In other words... get to know what happens to your image when you have the 'Preserve Transparency' box turned ON. And you'll ALSO learn to know which filters and functions you cannot apply to a Type layer, without first Rendering/Rasterizing it.

The 'Preserve/Lock Transparency' option has always been one of the most common things that people have tended to over-look, when trying to apply an effect, and it doesn't seem to work out properly for them. Keep in mind too that this function can be turned on for any type of layer containing transparent areas -- not just for Type layers.


The time you spend doing these things I've suggested on this page, will help you to get the most out of the new and, no doubt, exciting things that you will be learning from ALL of the Photoshop sites on the web that you go to. Including mine! Please consider doing these things BEFORE you tackle that next 'cool text effects' tutorial you've had your eye on. You really will see an improved understanding of what it is the person giving the tutorial is trying to explain to you. If I come up with any more suggestions for this page I will post them. If this interests you then please come back & check this page out to see if I've added any new ideas ok.

Good luck!

Copyright © Mark Anthony Larmand

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