I went to an API hackathon, and ended up watching a 19-year-old college freshman dominate Photoshop CS6 with a tablet. After that, I couldn’t help but take out my 30-day trial of CS6 too. As a long-time user of Microsoft PowerPoint, web apps like PicMonkey, and other tools where clicking on an item selected it, figuring out how to play around with layers was the biggest learning curve. But after that? Wow.

I was honestly pretty excited to finally unveil the mystery of how transparent graphics were created. Hurrah for magic eraser tools:

I also discovered that once you get through the initial curves of realizing that keyboard shortcuts are your friend and that layers are not selected by clicking on the canvas, Google really *is* your friend.

I’m sure I still have much to learn, but in any case, these basics I’ve googled have been really helpful in getting me to wield Photoshop as easily as I did Microsoft Paint:

  • command-[ and command-] moves layers backward and forward, respectively (you can also manually drag them up and down) (
  • command-T lets you adjust the size of a layer after you select it
  • If you *do* want to select a layer that you point to right on the canvas, you have to hit command-click
  • control-option adjusts the size of your circular brush tool
  • It *is* possible to change the canvas size in the middle of editing! Simply go to image -> canvas size. You can also adjust the dimensions of an image by going to image -> image size.
  • Press ‘b’ for the brush shortcut, ‘v’ for the view shortcut, ‘c’ to crop the entire canvas, ‘t’ to write a block of text, etc.

I’m probably going to read through a book about Photoshop soon — but for now, I’m happy to be comfortable with knowing enough to create some of my own custom graphics.


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  • Hi, I'm Linda! I enjoy going to tech meetups, learning web development, and blogging about the learning path. Follow me @LPnotes

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