10 Photoshop Tutorials for Beginners – Part 1 / 5
For me, PhotoShop is the best invention since sliced bread. Okay, I am fairly sure thats not the correct expression, but you get my point. Most people think of PhotoShop as a bigger and more complex version of Instagram. Though Photoshop can produce vintage, black and white and retro style effects, this is really only scratching the surface of what it is actually capable of.
With the release of the new CS6 version, Photoshop has become pretty much limitless. Though more expert tutorials will be released, this set of tutorials is aimed specifically at beginners, and that is where we will start, the beginning. Attached below are 2 in-depth tutorials of things you need to know, in order to begin really understanding the software. This series will include 10 Photoshop tutorials in total broken down over five parts.
Lets start from the very moment you first open the project.
1) WHAT ON EARTH ARE PIXELS?
Okay, so this a fairly obvious place to start, but I hope many of you don’t just skip over this point, as I want to talk in detail about the different choices PhotoShop offer you. Depending on what your work is for will depend what settings are best for you.
So go ahead, and open Photoshop up. Once loaded, click File > New.
Then you will be presented with a little window of options. Seen below.
My first question, when I started using Photoshop (all those years ago) was “how big is a pixel?” Or better yet, “how big is 1000 pixels?”
The honest answer is, it depends. Now this is where it gets a little more complicated. But stay with me, and I will try my best to explain.
Everyone knows the difference between a standard definition TV and a high definition TV right? Okay, maybe not the complexities and the technical stuff, but we all know HD is much sharper (in terms of quality) than an SD TV.
Well, without going into too much detail, screens are made up of tiny dots or boxes of colour called Pixels. These pixels, when combined with thousands of other pixels create an image on our screens. The more pixels included within an image, the greater definition the image has. Hence the term Standard or High Definition.
Attached above are two images. The left of a rather wintery looking forest and the right of that very same image enhanced and zoomed in several times. Here you can see a collection of single coloured pixels, which when combined, create the image you see on the left. Clever stuff right?
Ordinarily the pixels are too small for the human eye to make out, but zoomed in, you can see clearly how the image is constructed.
So to answer your original question of how big is a pixel, I would say it depends solely on how many pixels per inch you select.
Going back to Photoshop now. Below the two width and height options is a third option called “Resolution”. Here Photoshop allows you to set the resolution for your required image.
Resolution can be simply defined as how many pixels are included within a particular measurement, in this case an inch. The more pixels you include, the more defined your image becomes. Easy choice right? That is where your requirements must come into play.
An image saved at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch, though much more detailed, will also be much larger in size. Now this is absolutely fine if you are producing photos for your printed portfolio or media pack. The sharper the better right? But when you want to upload that work to the web, it becomes a tricky decision.
Major sites like Facebook, Flickr and Tumblr automatically crunch the image upon upload, reducing the size and also quality of the image. Sadly, this is an automated process, which happens to all images upon upload. Its enforced purely to save space.
But when uploading to your own site, including high res images can often really slow down a web page. This of course all depends on your site construction and hosting speed. But generally speaking, most people would prefer to see a standard definition image, than have to wait 10 seconds to load a high resolution image.
Our advice would be, give them both a go. Trial your site out with high resolution images, and SD images, and see what you feel most comfortable with.
2) SAVING A DOCUMENT.
This tutorial is a little more in-depth than it’s title may lead you to think.
Photoshop being the all singing, all dancing software that it is, gives you a range of options on what to save your image as. Lets break them down.
So you have just finished your masterpiece. Perhaps its a photo edit, perhaps its a doodle, whatever it is, you need to save it. First things first, click File which is located in the top left hand corner of your screen.
You have three main options. (We aren’t including Export in this tutorial, but we will get to that in a more advanced lesson).
Your options are -
- Save As
- Save for Web & Devices
Option One (Save) – This option should only ever be used if you are 100% sure what you are saving and where. I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of times I have accidentally saved an image, over another image by mistake.
Option Two (Save As) – Choose where you want to save your image, select and enter the title and hit save.
Option Three (Save For Web & Devices) – As the title suggests, if you are saving your image to be posted specifically on the web, use this option. Inside, it gives you a range of options like “Reduce Image Quality” and “File Type”. All factors that matter in image size.
As we mentioned earlier, image size is a huge factor when uploading photos to the web. If you have your own website, I would advise using this option as standard. Save your image using a range of different options to mess around with the quality vs size factor.
Image Output type
I won’t go into too much detail, but Photoshop allows users to save their image in over 25 different formats. These formats all have their benefits, but without a doubt the most popular two are JPEG and PNG.
Most sites will allow upload of files if they are in either a JPEG or a PNG format. Although there are a range of differences in the technical make up of these two image types, I want to tell you one. One very important one.
A PNG image allows users to export their image with a transparent background. This is particularly useful if you want to cut out a particular part of your photo and save that and just that.
Let me use an example.
You have taken a picture of your favourite dog, Toto. You love the latest picture you have of him, but your goal is to cut Toto out of this picture, so you can place him (and only him) onto your website background.
A PNG image will allow you to do this, including the remaining background around the dog as transparent. A JPG unfortunately, will save the background behind the dog as white. Meaning when you go to copy this image over your website, the white background will be included. Not good.
See the image below to get a better idea of what I mean.
You see how the image on the right shows only the jockey’s outfit and nothing else. The JPG image shows the very same jockey jersey and hat, but on a white background. Although there are many benefits to using JPG images, for transparency PNG wins every time.
Okay, so you are ready to save your PNG image, which is going to be uploaded on to your website.
When you select the save option number three (Save for Web & Devices) and have selected the drop down to select PNG, you will notice there are two PNG options.
PNG-8 and PNG-24. What on earth are these?
Very simply put, the number refers to the type of colouring used to save the image. Similar to resolution and pixel density, colouring is produced in a very similar way. Option 8 bit is a much earlier and simpler way of colouring images, and the much more modern 24 bit option, also known as True Colour.
8 bit, though packing much less of a punch in terms of making your colours really pop, will export to a much smaller file size. Which as discussed, is hugely beneficial when trying to upload images to the web. 24 bit, as you may have guessed is the polar opposite. A much brighter and highly defined finish but with a much larger file size.
The key here is experimentation. Luckily when you do select “Save for Web & Devices” Photoshop provides you with a file size based on your image and your export selections. So before clicking that magical save button, mess around with your options. Try, try and try some more, to find that perfect output selection for your photo.
Sadly to quote many a cheesy 1970’s TV programmes, I have to say, “unfortunately thats all we have got time for this week. But tune in again next week, for part two of our five part series”.
Thanks for reading