5 Harmful Photoshop Habits
I have been a regular Photoshop user and the biggest fan for about a decade, so I often get asked questions about my technique and get to advice beginner and ‘professional’ photographers on how to improve their editing skills. Therefore, I decided to create a little blog post about my harmful Photoshop habits, that could help you to work more efficiently using Photoshop. I know there are many tips like ‘use Bridge’ (which I never use, unfortunately, I guess), etc., however the habits below are based on my personal experience and knowledge. Le go!
The most important and time efficient tip (at least for me) out of 5 harmful Photoshop habits is to use layers. Unfortunately, for the first 6 years I only worked on a single layer. Maybe, it was because I was teaching myself by randomly pressing everything and that was enough at the time? Now, being a professional photographer I understand that it is a harmful habit that a professional just can not have.Let me explain. Working on a single layer is like painting on a canvas. Imagine, you have already spent three hours painting the main attributes in the picture. You gradually add details, like shadows, stars, cat… “Oh no, I don’t like it, need to undo. Let’s put a flower on top of the cat. Now, looks better. I will draw fifty flowers, oh yeah, gotta look great.” *after 50 flowers* “Oh no, the last 30 were unnecessary.” And that’s where the fun part starts. You undo, undo, undo, undo… but you can’t undo forever, right? In Photoshop, after ten clicks on an undo button that’s it. Now, all you can do is chuck this canvas you have been working on for hours in the bin and start a new one (after you cry for a few days).Layering is a much wiser way of working in Photoshop, since by constantly adding translucent layers and drawing 100 flowers, you can simply delete that layer without damaging your creation, your main layer. I personally always start my editing process by duplicating my initial layer and work on a duplicate layer. Once I finish my quick editing and decide to experiment with filters, or anything else, I always duplicate the first duplicate layer and work on the duplicate of the first duplicate’s layer. If I like what I get- I select my first ‘main’ duplicate and second layers, use a shortcut Cmd/Ctrl + J and get one final layer. Generally, when editing a photograph I duplicate layers about 7- 30 times (depending on how much editing the image needs). Therefore, using layers is vital when working in Photoshop.
Another harmful habit when working in Photoshop is not using adjustment layers. It is very similar to working on a single layer, since using the adjustments from the Image menu will destructively apply them onto the selected layer and you won’t be able to repair the effect later on. In contrast, adjustment layers are completely independent layers of the image, so you can well control opacity, blend mode and other settings. It is also important to keep mind that an Adjustment layer will affect all underlying layers.
Create, save and use actions in Photoshop. When you are to edit a number of images from a series of photos that were taken in similar conditions (same lighting, colours and objects), for example wedding photography, you want the photos to turn out having similar colours, noise amount, etc. In this case, action– is your best friend. Basically, an action is a finished and ready to use set of operations that you record first and then, easily apply it onto any photo. It saves a tremendous amount of time when editing great orders and projects.
Not saving in PSD is another harmful habit in our 5 harmful Photoshop habits list. From time to time even I forget (please don’t blame me) to do it. I try to train myself to always save my work in PSD file not only when it is ‘finished’ but a few times during the editing process. There is nothing worse when you edit for so long, find the right hues, everything on the image starts to ‘work in harmony’ and your computer crashes. It happened to me quite a few times, and reminded me that the computer- is just a machine and the only person who has to secure my present results- is myself. Other times when I didn’t save the PSD file and the client wanted me to change a few single details- I needed to edit everything once again from the original image. PSD file is your working file, you probably will not need to offer it to your customers, but you should save PSD file, so that when customers need to modify some of the content, you can easily deal with.
Our last out of 5 harmful Photoshop habits is using shortcuts. Becoming a photographer & an editor, I learned that time is precious and when you have 150 photos to edit, you don’t want to waste a second and seek for ways to speed up your workflow. Shortcuts is the greatest creation of all times! First years of me discovering Photoshop were exciting, and I didn’t realise the importance of shortcuts. However, as soon as I started to get professional orders, I finally realised why I (and you too) should you them. Now, when I finally learned them, I can assure you that if it took me 30 minutes to edit one photo back then, it takes me only 15 minutes doing the same job, using shortcuts nowadays.