shutterstock_103781984Photoshop is a software program developed by Adobe that allows users to edit graphics. It’s used by graphic artists, designers and photographers, among others, and can enhance and manipulate images to improve their overall appearance. It’s an excellent tool that makes photo editing easy and efficient. Once you get the hang of it, you can manage and edit photos in a fraction of the time it would take you to do it in other ways. For this reason, photographers, editors, designers and artists love using it – both beginners and professionals!

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Photoshop can seem a little daunting for those who have never used it before. It’s a complex program and can take quite a while to learn all the ins and outs of all the functions. But the good news is that it’s fairly simple to master the basics. Here are some of the more common controls that will help you get started using Photoshop like a pro.

Selection Tools

Selection tools are one of the most basic functions of Photoshop. They let you directly focus on one area of an image, in any shape that you wish. You can outline an area and then apply different effects to that particular area. Say you have a portrait of a person standing with a house or sky in the background. You can use the lasso tool to draw an outline directly around that person and then alter the clarity or tone of just that person’s image. You can also outline objects in rectangular areas, elliptical areas and other ways.

Watch a free lecture on Quick Selection and the Magic Wand

The Brush Tool

Photoshop edits photos in layers based on depth. The brush tool lets you select and alter the colors and opacity of different layers. This comes in handy when you have photos with foreground and backgrounds of different color saturation. If you saturate the full image, the foreground may come out oversaturated or vice-versa, so you want to isolate one or the other. You can use the brush tool over the areas that you’d like to remove in order to bring out the colors of the image to those areas alone. You’ll get better at this the more you play around with it.

Watch a free lecture on the Brush Tool

Spot Brush

This is a great tool for brushing out spots from your photograph. This includes such things as skin blemishes or other small spots around the photograph that you’d rather not include. This tool works great for areas where you can blur the same tone and color onto the spot you’d like to remove (like skin or sky). But for more complex areas, you’ll want to try more accurate tools – like the Clone Tool.

Watch a free lecture on using the Spot Brush

The Clone Tool

The Clone Tool is used to “clone” an area of the image. Imagine you have a photo of a view from a window and one area of the window’s edge is cluttered or blurred. You can use the clone tool to select an area that is crisp and uncluttered, replicate it and layer it over the original area in order to repair it. This tool should be used in moderation so that it doesn’t make your photo look patchy or doctored.

Watch a free lecture on using the Clone Tool

These are only a few of Photoshop’s hundreds of functions. Depending on what you are using Photoshop for, you may not even need to learn all of them! Some people like to learn the top 5 or 10 tools and find that those more than meet their needs. Other people like to learn all the nuances and consider themselves professionals.

We recommend getting started with a basic intro course! At, we offer some great tutorials to help you get started. Some of them are even free!

Check out some of our favorites here:

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