Photoshop is the industry standard for image editing and manipulation. Released in 1990 for Apple Macintosh, it has slowly grown to its current global dominance. It is part of the popular Adobe family of programs like Illustrator and After Effects.
The latest version is Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud, where it joins all the premier Adobe programs in a cloud-based system. Instead of purchasing a static version of the program, users log in to the Creative Cloud platform and pay a monthly fee. The benefit is that new features are added as they are created–users don’t have to wait for next official release.
Photoshop is so vast, it is difficult to give a comprehensive overview for new users. However, here is a closer look at several common Photoshop concepts.
Image File Formats
Photoshop is primarily a pixel-based editor, in contrast to its sister program Adobe Illustrator, which works mostly with vector images. It can handle almost any image file, from popular formats like .jpg and .gif, to bitmap formats like .bmp. It does have the ability to edit vector images with the Pen tool, the Shape tool, the Type tool and several others.
Photoshop can alter images by changing the scale, layering one on top of another, changing the compression, adjusting the amount of computer data used for each pixel and much more. Users can cut out sections of a photo and copy them to another picture. Photos can be improved with retouching, blending and cloning. A talented editor knows how to change eye color, remove wrinkles and imperfections, and even make someone look slimmer.
In addition to major image manipulation capabilities, Photoshop is often used to create images like graphic text, icons, and website buttons. Keep in mind Photoshop in not technically a drawing program, but it has very capable drawing tools.
Photoshop saves its files in a native format known as .psd, which means “Photoshop Document.” In each document, users can create layers, text, paths, masks and more. Layers act as transparent digital “sheets” that lay on top of each other. Images can be built up or subtracted by manipulating the various layers.
In addition, image sections can be cut out and added to another image on a separate layer. This ability led some users to create fake images like celebrity heads on another body, or adding people or objects to a scene that did not exist in real life. Altering reality with a photo became known as being “Photoshopped.”
Photoshop’s considerable power can be extended even further with plug-ins. These are programs that are added to the main program to provide a specific functionality. There are many commercial plug-ins as well as quite a few free contributions from the enthusiastic Photoshop community. Filter plug-ins are the most popular. They allow a user to quickly change a photo with new colors and effects.
Photoshop is available for both Windows and the Macintosh. It is the cornerstone of image editing in business, graphic design, education and the arts. Discover the magic and power of this landmark program, and take your visual communication skills to a whole new level.