Why Use Photoshop Software and Finding the Best Tutorial For Adobe Photoshop

This tutorial for Adobe Photoshop is ideal for anybody looking at the real advantages of using this Adobe software in order to edit your digital photos and images. If you are looking for a variety of tutorials for Adobe Photoshop, you way get overwhelmed by the millions of pages offered by Google search results. If you want a more defined Google search results for any tutorial for Adobe Photoshop, then use “” – for example “Tutorial For Adobe Photoshop CS5/CS4/CS3/CS2” etc. This way you will find what you are looking for a lot easier.

Photoshop is an amazing piece of computer software that allows its users to manipulate and create images. The use of Photoshop is pervasive throughout the professional worlds of photography and graphic design. The first version of Photoshop hit the market in 1990 as a Macintosh product; it is now on its eleventh release and compatible with any system. Why should you use Photoshop?

Photoshop gives you an enormous advantage over designing with a paper and pen. You can easily fix your mistakes without any messy erasing. There are a variety of templates for the less artistically inclined to choose from. Also, a finished Photoshop product invariably looks more professional than a hand-drawn product.

Once you have decided to invest in image editing software, you may notice that Photoshop is a very costly product. Current versions of Photoshop CS4 run between $500 and $600. It is possible to find much cheaper image editing software and some computers even come with a factory-installed program. However, there are four broad reasons why you should use Photoshop over other cheaper or free image editing software. These four reasons are: versatility, a user-friendly interface, easy access to training, and a variety of functions.

Versatility: There is very little that Photoshop is not able to accomplish for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur photographer who wants to do some simple cropping to family snapshots. Conversely, top photographers and graphic design professionals use Photoshop for image creation and editing.

User-friendly interface: Photoshop was designed with the consumer in mind. No specialized programming skills are needed and its drawing canvas, where images are created, is WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. Many elements of Photoshop are similar to other computer programs. For example, the menu bar has the same file, edit, view, and help options as Microsoft Word. The tools in the toolbox modify your pointer so that you will remember what tool you are using.

Easy access to training: Because Photoshop is an immensely popular software tool, there are a plethora of books, online tutorials, and college courses available to train the new user in the workings of Photoshop. You can not only find information suitable for a beginner, but also a detailed description of some of Photoshop’s most advanced tools.

Variety of functions: Photoshop is able to perform an almost endless variety of image edit and creation functions.

Photo manipulation – take a downloaded or scanned photo and reduce red-eye and other imperfections, crop the photo, or change the sharpness or contrast of the image

Painting and drawing – use the drawing canvas and toolbox to create new images

Graphic design – take scanned artwork or artwork created in Photoshop itself and add layers, gradients, and much more to create graphic art that sells.

Typography and page layout – Photoshop allows you to manipulate both text and image on the same drawing canvas but in different layers. This allows you to create presentations and other projects that require a juxtaposition of text and image.

Best Image and Photo Editing Software Alternatives to Adobe Photoshop – My Reviews

“Photoshop” has gone beyond being merely a brand name to become a regular household word, a verb and a noun. However, Photoshop is really just a brand of fancy image editing software. Fancy, and expensive, image editing software. Adobe Illustrator is a standard vector graphics editor, and Adobe Photoshop is a standard photo editor for pretty much everything else. According to Adobe.com, Standard Adobe Photoshop (not the Extended Version) is $599 and Adobe Illustrator is $699. The Design Standard Suite is over $1,000. What are your options for photo editing software if you can’t afford Adobe Photoshop?

Below is a list of my favorite image editing software, including a couple of online photo editors:

1. IrfanView

Experience Level Required: Novice

Pros: Fast, compact, uses minimal resources, many features (even more with plugins installed), many easy keyboard shortcuts available, functions as a viewer as well as a basic image editor, batch conversions, slideshow creation, precise cropping, variety of screen capture options, handles tons of file types, straight forward and easy to use.

Cons: Does not seem to do background saves (file saving requires overwriting the previously saved version every time), photo edits apply to entire image even if only one area is selected.

My Review:

IrfanView is far and wide my absolute favorite image viewer/editor. It is not for advanced edits but IrfanView has many useful features for basic and somewhat advanced editing. It’s the most fast and efficient viewer I’ve seen or used, with the editing functionality that is lacking in many general image viewers. IrfanView is quick, compact, and not a resource hog. Rotating and flipping can be done with a single key.

IrfanView also offers a variety of screen capture options that prove very handy. The screen capture function gives you a choice of capture area (whole screen, current window, foreground area) as well as method of capture (timer, programmable hot-key). IrfanView gives you the option between capturing with or without the cursor. Screen capture and zoom are done with another tap of the key.

Editing in IrfanView is basic, but convenient. Rotate, flip, crop, brighten, sharpen, resize, simple bevels, saturation, hue, add text, etc. Basic editing is simple enough even for a novice to perform without reading a lengthy manual.

One of my favorite features is the crop tool. Unlike cropping in some Windows programs, IrfanView allows you to see the pixel size of the area you’ve selected. If you try to crop a selection and find out it’s still too large, the Resize/Resample function allows you to size it down to the exact proportions you want. Resize/Resample also offers some popular preset size options to help you make your decision. The Resample option allows you to resize images without losing the image quality.

A unique feature in IrfanView I use very frequently is IrfanView’s Batch Conversion/Batch Rename function. The Batch Conversion feature is invaluable for resizing multiple photos at once. Likewise, Batch Rename is great for organizing those large groups of camera-named images. IrfanView even an option to rename your converted files. This is exceptionally useful if you are trying to make a photo CD for someone and have folders full of high-resolution, 1MB+ sized images that need to be shrunk a bit.

All this packaged into one compact – FREE – little program

2. Inkscape

Experience Level Required: Intermediate to Advanced

Pros: Relatively easy to use, variety of in-depth editing features, supports a variety of input and output types including support for Adobe Illustrator.eps files, filters make professional looking edits with ease, many features are easily tweaked to accommodate your particular needs, many options for exporting bitmaps.

Cons: Some features are more technical than novices may be comfortable with (prior experience with Adobe Illustrator would likely be helpful), resource intensive program, viewing files at full size has to be done carefully to avoid locking up the program, cropping took some time to figure out.

My Review:

I’d like to start by saying that I’m still only a beginner with Inkscape. Yet despite of my lack of knowledge about vector graphic editors, and vector graphics in general, Inkscape is still a convenient and simple way to create professional, impressive looking logos and buttons with little technical expertise or knowledge of graphics editing software. The simplest way to do this is to use the text tool to type out what you want, choose a nice font, and then play around with the various filters until you get the effect you want.

One filter is nice, but multiple filters can make something even more impressive looking. The logo on my blog is a result of doing just that. The rainbow-swirled paint splash is actually the product of a square with a gradient and several different filters stacked on top of each other. You’d never know by looking at it that it started as a square (a gray square even, if I remember right). Working with text is pretty simple with Inkscape and you don’t need to rasterize it to use the filters.

Filters are in abundance. Options include the very basic (lighten, darken, sharpen, blur, etc), textures, colorize, “non-realistic 3D shaders,” overlays, materials, bevels, and more. Resizing and rotating individual components is a breeze, but cropping them can be a bit confusing. Cropping in Inkscape is actually called “clipping” and it doesn’t function exactly the same as most cropping tools. I had to conduct a Google search to figure it out, and even then I only found one or two sites that explained it in a way that made sense. I have re-posted it on my blog for your convenience.

You also have to watch your actual file sizes in Inkscape. If you work without setting the canvas size and go mostly freeform, you can end up with a very large image file without realizing it. If you’ve done this and try to zoom in, Inkscape’s performance reduces significantly, depending on your computer’s technical specs. It corrects itself well, but you may have to give it awhile.

The most advanced part of Inkscape is working with paths and nodes. Admittedly I am not experienced with paths and nodes yet. I have used them a little in experimentation, but for the most part I can’t give a good review on the usage of paths and nodes with Inkscape. Flattening layers is also something that I imagine is possible, but I have yet to figure it out exactly. That’s where the “Advanced” recommendation comes in. If you are comfortable using Adobe Illustrator, figuring out paths and nodes in Inkscape should be simple. I never got comfortable enough with Adobe Illustrator to have a definite opinion on the paths and nodes functions in Inkscape (and have not had a reason to use them much in Inkscape, either).

3. GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Experience Level Required: Intermediate to Advanced

Pros: Great feature list, hover tips explain feature icons, supports a variety of input and output types including support for Adobe Photoshop.psd files, variety of filters for professional looking image edits, clean and efficient interface, generally faster load time than Adobe Photshop, many tweakable features for enhanced control, ability to easily reset defaults, supports a variety of keyboard shortcuts, results using GIMP are generally comparable to using Adobe Photoshop.

Cons: Lacks some features of Adobe Photoshop, certain functions take some getting used to, recreating some Adobe Photoshop type results may require additional steps.

My Review:

After familiarizing myself a bit with Adobe Photoshop, it took me a while to switch gears from Adobe Photoshop to GIMP, and a couple tools took me a little Google-searching to figure out. I can’t say it’s because GIMP is that hard to learn, but rather that I was frustrated and impatient.

Selection, crop, layers, filters, set the image size, etc. are all pretty easy. Gradient, fill (color and pattern options), clone, blur, smudge, airbrush, and various selection tools were also easy, but the clone and gradient tools took me some trial and error to figure out. The brush sizes also originally seemed to be lacking.

Once I experimented a little more, I was very pleasantly surprised with the ability to tweak the brush in a wide variety of ways. This helps greatly with pixel-by-pixel editing around curves and edges. You can tweak the hardness, opacity, angle, shape, aspect ratio and radius of the brush. GIMP even lets you add spikes and make uniquely shaped brushes. Editing the brush sizes and shapes proved to be an invaluable feature when using the clone tool to capture a very specific portion of an image. The brush editor allows you to create a brush up to a huge 1,000 pixels in size.

Another convenient feature of GIMP is the ability to open new images as layers, and open multiple images simultaneously. The locator icon (not sure its actual name) in the bottom right hand corner is also useful. If you zoom in too far on a given image and want to locate a specific portion, you can drag the cursor around the icon and go right to the desired spot in the image.

I didn’t find as many filter options in GIMP as I did in Inkscape, or maybe they just weren’t as cut-and-dry, but there are still a good range with many options. The real power to GIMP comes very similar to Adobe Photoshop. Layers and masks are allow you to create a wide variety of effects that are not necessarily built in.

Many of the realistic, elegant, or impressive effects can be created with layers. Just like using paths and nodes in Inkscape, layer and mask functions require a more advanced level of knowledge (layers and masks are present in Inkscape as well). You can use layers and masks to create more subtle effects than what I have had to use personally. Rays of sunlight, shiny and/or colored hair, realistic looking shadows and more can be created with these functions.

4. Pixlr – Online Photo Editing Software

Experience Level Required: Novice to Advanced

Pros: Offers 3 different types of editors – Pixlr O-Matic, Pixlr Express, and Pixlr Editor – ranging from novice level to advanced, creates beautiful photo effects without the hassle, allows you to save your files online, downloadable plug-in allows you to edit images “grabbed” off the web, variety of preset settings, lighting effects, frame effects, more advanced editing options available, allows you to edit images from anywhere, easy to use interface, many languages available, no registration required.

Cons: Pixlr Editor (advanced) and Pixlr Express (novice to intermediate) may run slowly when applying certain effects, functionality of Pixlr Editor is not as in-depth as GIMP or Adobe Photoshop, requires internet connection, may resize your original photo.

My Review:

Reviewing Pixlr is almost like reviewing 3 separate graphics editing software programs. I found and tested out Pixlr O-Matic first, which contains many preset settings for the photo style, then light effects on the photo, and finally a framed appearance around the photo. The photo styles all have interesting names, and some seem too unusual to be useful, such as having your entire photo in a double-vision appearance.

Using Pixlr O-Matic on a particular photo, I eventually decided on the “Melissa” setting, with a Vignette, and set the frame as “Cornered”. Combined, the three effects made the person in the photo stand out with a hazy, dark background and a torn appearance around the edges of the photo. All in all, it gave it an elegant, aged appearance and all in only three quick steps.

Pixlr Express offers the same image effects, but allows you to edit them some. It offers basic image editing functions (rotate, crop, etc) and breaks down some of its other effects that are combined in Pixlr O-Matic. While Pixlr O-Matic is extremely fast, Pixlr Express may take a little longer to apply some of the effects to your image. Pixlr Express is still good for the novice user as it is quick, easy and very self-explanatory.

Pixlr Editor on the other hand resembles an online version of GIMP or Adobe Photoshop. There is a toolbox, layers, brush options. advanced editing, and more. It is not nearly as robust as GIMP, but just as with Pixlr O-Matic and Pixlr Express, its presets make more advanced editing possible in fewer steps. You can edit the brush, layers, masks, etc and also use the filters and other basic image editor functions.

As with Pixlr Express, Pixlr Editor ran slowly when applying effects, since it is an online editor. When I was testing each version out, Pixlr O-Matic had no delay, Pixlr Express had a delay while applying some effects (not others), and Pixlr Editor got held up a few times trying to make edits or test out various effects. When all is said and done, Pixlr can make time-consuming work into child’s play.

The only issue I had with Pixlr was when it ended up shrinking my photo unexpectedly. It had been reduced in size by roughly 50%, maybe even more. I may have just overlooked an option to prevent that though, so I can’t say that it would happen every time.

5. Picnik – Online Photo Editing Software

Experience Level Required: Novice to Intermediate

Pros: Easy to use even for a novice, basic editing options, lots of filter effects; ability to create collages, calendars, and other professional looking photo-imprinted items; no registration required, doesn’t resize your photos by default, photos can be edited from any computer.

Cons: Many features and effects are not available unless you upgrade to a premium account, tweaking options may not be enough for advanced users, registered accounts only allow 5 photos to be saved.

My Review:

Aside from the landing page, Picnik looks and acts, in many ways, almost identical to Pixlr Express. The filter options are generally pretty similar, although Picnik has more framing effects. Some of the image effects are drastically different than those found in Pixlr Express. On the other hand, many fancy features require you to be a registered, paying user. Granted, registration doesn’t exactly require a month’s pay. Picnik’s premium features are advertised at a price of “as little as $2.08 a month”.

The feature list advertised (for Picnik Premium) sounds pretty robust, and the benefit is the additional features with the same ease of use. Picnik Premium includes more effects, collage styles, advanced editing tools, “stickers”, frames, and more. Picnik Premium also lets you work without ads, and offers touch-up tools (burn, dodge, etc aren’t included in Picnik by default), batch uploading, and special fonts. Prices start at $4.95 for one month, to $24.95 for 12 months (where the “$2.08 per month” pricing comes in). $19.95 for 6 months, if you want to get half a year less for the cost of one extra month. The 6 month plan almost sounds like an insult.

$25 a year isn’t a lot if you’re a novice user wanting to do a lot of photo edits. If you have more advanced skills, it may be worth it to you to minimize the amount of time you spend editing any one photo. Then again, if you are well versed in photo editing software, you may find Picnik’s features to be too constrained and prefer more control over your images.

Overall, the basic free version of Picnik is an incredibly useful tool that anyone could use. If you don’t want to register at all, you don’t have to. You couldn’t save your edited photos and edit history in Picnik, but you can always save your originals in one folder and then download your edited photos in another to maintain backups.

So which graphics editing software is really the best? You’ll have to decide for yourself. Each of the ones I’ve listed (with the exception of Pixlr [Express] and Picnik [Free Version]) have their own defined purpose, and they all have their own unique qualities.

The best image editing software for you depends on your expertise, the amount of time you are comfortable spending, how often you’ll need it, and what you’ll typically use it for. Try each one and decide for yourself. Or better yet – use them all.

Do You Need Adobe Photoshop?

This is a question a budding photographer would eventually ask himself. Photography and photo editing are two different forms of art. Does processing your photo make you less of a photographer? Or is it a must for all photographers to post-process pictures? Is Photoshop necessary?

While many people can download Photoshop free of charge, the rest would have to spend around 700 dollars to get a copy. The legit version is expensive. If you have photography as a temporary hobby, then purchasing the full version is not a practical option. If you do not do much photo processing on editing software, then you really do not need to spend that much.

The question is: is it possible to create a masterpiece; a perfect photograph without using Photoshop?

The answer depends on what type of photographer you are. But it is possible to come up with a great image without doing post-processing. A good photographer should be able to capture their desired photo by setting the camera settings right and taking into account ambient conditions, before taking a snap. Important settings to consider when taking a shot are:

• ISO

• Exposure Compensation

• White balance

• Aperture

• Shutter speed

• Composition

So if you get things right in the camera in the first place, your chances of getting the perfect photo is so high, that you would not need to post process it later. If you set the ISO right, you may not have to go through aggressive noise reduction on software. The right exposure compensation ensures the photo looks just right-neither dark, nor bright. White balance ensures colors come right. Proper composition eliminates the need for unnecessary cropping or image rotation on the software.

However, there are many cases where even professional and seasoned photographers have to edit their photos. These are some of the cases:

• When there is time constraint in photography – You can get the settings right, as long as your subject can wait for you to set the camera and get the right composition. In so many cases, this is impossible. Outdoor, travel, street, sports, and wildlife photography involves taking photos continuously, without much time to tinker the settings. It is during these crucial moments when you have to prefer capturing the picture and just making adjustments on the image later. Setting the camera each time would mean missing precious moments.

• When the photo needs to be enhanced – There are those that already look right, but can still look better through post-processing. Portrait, wedding, and fashion photographers are heavy users of post-processing techniques. For instance, you have a nice portrait; everything is set right, but your subject’s face has blemishes. You see, no in-camera setting can remove these facial blemishes. You have to resort to the removal of these imperfections on Adobe Photoshop. This is a usual trick many professional photographers do.

• When a photo needs to be altered artistically – Advanced photographers usually do not settle with just a snap straight from the camera. There are several ways to change the image to make it look entirely different from the original photo. For instance, the background can be blurred significantly, or the subject can be made to retain its color to make the background recede into grayness. Photographers can also add elements to a photo or change the background entirely, or clip photographs together to form a panorama.

Where To Find Adobe Photoshop Tutorials

When it comes to image editing, Photoshop is the reigning market leader. Once you’ve tried how it works or seen what it does, you’ll understand why. Originally intended for editing paper-based print images, it has become the standard with which web-based images are created and is also the most popular program used by professionals to edit their digital photos.

If you’ve always wanted to learn about Photoshop, here are some websites that offer web tutorials. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert-to-be, you’ll find some valuable tools to enhance your skills and use your Photoshop program to the fullest.

Psworkshop.net

This is one of the best Photoshop tutorial search engines on the web. Whatever Photoshop technique, trick or special effects you’re looking for, you’ll find this site will be a huge help. Just click on the ‘how-to’ tutorials on the navigation bar to find the specific trick you’re looking for.

You can search for the tutorial of your choice by clicking on the categories: Basic, Color, Photos/Scanning, Text Effects, etc. You can also access their ‘Top Ten’ list of the most popular Photoshop tutorials which lists the most recent and most in-demand tricks you’ll want to learn.

PhotoshopRoadMap.com

This site features more than 1,000 Photoshop tutorials online. For text effects, enhancements and displacements maps, you’ll learn everything you need to know. Learn more than 100 tricks in tweaking textures and backgrounds and using special effects to enhance or alter photos and images. If you prefer tutorials through videos, the site also features Photoshop training DVDs and CDs.

80Four.com

80Four features free Photoshop tutorials categorized by subject. Each tutorial also includes a step-by-step guide to make performing the tutorial easier and effective. Some nifty tricks to learn: classic text effects like eroded, ice and stencil texts. Create more special effects with many layering, texture and light effects.

EyesOnDesign.com

Another site that features free online tutorials. If you’ve always wanted to create your own text effects like the ones that appeared in the Matrix movie, this site will teach you how. Learn to use patterns, curves, gradients and texture to change your own images and photos or download Photoshop files from the site to work on. You can even join the site’s design forum and exchange info and tips with fellow Photoshop users.

MyJanee.com

This site lists some of the most complete Photoshop tutorials on the internet. It features original Photoshop lessons, an art challenge and a very good collection of edited images in their gallery. You’ll find the tutorials on this site user-friendly and lessons are straightforward, thanks to its site owner, who has co-written 4 books on Photoshop and writes for the columns of two Photoshop publications.

PhotoshopLab.com

This is a newcomer in the Photoshop tutorial universe, but there are lots to learn to kick your Photoshop skills one notch. Tutorials include: using smart objects, half-sketch effect, half-tones, using tools and layers, adding masks and filters and other classics such as photo aging, adding facial hair and using brushes for stencil effects. If you’ve always wondered how those nifty Nip/Tuck tricks were done, this site will teach how to be your very own virtual cosmetic surgeon.

PhotoshopTutorial.net

The site has more than 600 tutorials online. For beginners to more experienced graphic designers, this site has some very helpful basic and advanced techniques. The categories are easy to navigate and you’ll find the tips easy to find. Categories include tutorials in basics, texts, digital arts, special effects, layouts and web graphics.