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After the Basics: Photoshop Capabilities Beyond the Surface

by | Dec 4, 2015 | Articles, Photoshop | 0 comments

Photoshop Capabilities Essential Day to Day

Whether you use Photoshop for professional or personal reasons, get the most out of the program. While there are many easy-to-use options on the front end of Photoshop, there are more Photoshop capabilities beyond the surface. Here is a look at how you can get the most out of setup.

Photoshop Capabilities

The Right Machine

Though Photoshop itself is a tool, you need the right machine if you want it optimized. Of course, this means you need the best computer. However, the age of desktops has come and gone, while laptops have seen a transformation. 2-in-1 laptops are slim, durable and powerful, and they also make Photoshop more intuitive. With the use of touchscreens and the convertible/detachable screen, use your computer like a notepad and pencil. Get a stylus for improved precision and accuracy as well. There are many 2-in-1 laptops on the market. The Microsoft Surface was the first tablet that claimed it could replace your laptop, and it partially fulfilled the promise. However, the Surface may be more tablet than laptop. If you want a more laptop-like hybrid, the Lenovo Yoga series is built with a magnesium-alloy frame and comes equipped with the Intel 5th Gen Core processor, which makes it a perfect match for Photoshop.

Essential Photoshop Capabilities


Within Photoshop, it’s all about layers. Utilizing the different layers of an image gives you a vast amount of control. Master layers with these shortcut commands:

  • Use Alt-Click on the Layer Mask Icon to hide everything on that single layer.
  • Hold Cmd+Alt and click and drag a layer to instantly copy it.
  • Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E will merge all layers so you image is now a single entity.
  • Ctrl+T transforms a layer.
  • Ctrl+E merges selected layer(s).
  • Ctrl+] brings a layer up.
  • Ctrl+[ brings a layer down.
  • Ctrl+Shift+[ sends a layer to the bottom of the queue.

There are many other commands and controls that make layer management easier and faster. Check out for more.

Crop & Re-crop

You don’t need to destroy the cropped area of a picture. Instead, hide the cropped section of the image. Make the background layer editable with a double click, and hit the OK toggle. With the crop tool, drag over the space you want cropped. Now, instead of applying the crop, select the hide button in the options. You can re-crop at any time just by dragging outside the window, which will reveal the cropped image.

1970s Color Fade

There’s nothing like the cool look of an old photograph, and with Photoshop you can apply that look to your favorite shots. The trick is twofold, as photographs don’t fade consistently across the color spectrum. First, create a new hue or saturation layer. Then change the blend mode to saturation as well. Set the colorize option at about 15, and the lightness at -28. For a natural fade and saturation, lower the image contrast. Create a curve layer and set the black point at 0, and the output at about 20. With these settings you’ll get a nice, natural fade, much like an old picture.

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