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What Is Adobe Photoshop?

Read Time: 23 min
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Read Time: 23 min

Is Photoshop hard to learn? It doesn't have to be! In this article, we'll take you through a huge collection of free learning resources that will help you master the basics of Photoshop in no time.

1. What Is Adobe Photoshop?

What is Adobe Photoshop used for?

In this section, we'll introduce you to Photoshop by giving you a brief history and describing its main uses.

We'll also include a video for you to watch, and we'll show you a few beautiful and varied creations, with links to free tutorials on how to make them in Photoshop.

photoshop logo

Did you know that Photoshop has been around since the 1980s? It was created way back in 1987 by two brothers, Thomas and John Knoll, who sold the distribution license to Adobe the following year. Photoshop 1.0 was released, initially just for Mac computers, in February 1990.

Of course, the program has changed a lot since then. It now has a powerful set of features that millions of people around the world use every day to edit photos and create digital art. Learn more about the basics of Photoshop in this video:

What is Adobe Photoshop used for?

Photoshop is primarily used for editing images. So if you've taken a photo and want to move things around, or change the background, or make it black and white, you can do all that—and much more! Photoshop has a huge range of tools and effects to help you make the most out of your images.

But Photoshop is also much more than an image-editing tool. You can also use it to create powerful works of digital art, make flyers and posters, create cool text effects, and much more. We'll be looking at all of this in more detail later on, but here's a quick selection to give you an idea of what's possible:

2. How Long Does It Take to Learn Photoshop?

So you want to learn Photoshop, but first you want to know what sort of commitment you're letting yourself in for?

It's a natural question to ask! In this section, we'll look at how long it takes to learn Photoshop and introduce you to some resources to help cut that time in half!

indie rock flyer in photoshopindie rock flyer in photoshopindie rock flyer in photoshop

How long does it take to learn Photoshop?

Photoshop is a huge program, with loads of advanced features. That's good because it gives you lots of power to create beautiful images and artwork, but it also means it can take years to truly master Photoshop and discover every single feature.

But don't despair! You can get up and running much faster than that. The best way to get started is to take this free course, Photoshop for Beginners. In just over three hours, Dan Scott takes you through all the key features you need to understand, from working with layers through to masking, smart objects, and more.

If you've already watched it, or if you're already beyond the beginner level, then try these two more advanced videos to get to the next level:

Advanced Photoshop for Everyone

Whereas the beginner course takes you through key features, this course goes to the next level by showing you how to create a mixed media piece of digital art from start to finish. You'll learn about editing images, using Photoshop effects, photo manipulation, and painting fantastical scenes.

A to Z of Photoshop

Or why not learn Photoshop from A to Z? This video teaches you a new Photoshop feature or technique for every letter of the alphabet. Whether you're a beginner or a more experienced Photoshop user, there's sure to be something new and useful for you to learn in this video.

If you watch all three videos, you'll have a very strong knowledge of Photoshop. With a total watch time of 4.5 hours, that's a pretty good answer to the question of how long it takes to learn Photoshop.

Another great way to save time in Photoshop is to use ready-made Photoshop templates and add-ons. Instead of starting from scratch each time, you can use these professional resources to help you get a head start. And the best part is, you can use them even if you're not a Photoshop expert.

Again, there's more to come later in this article, but here's a quick selection to give you an idea of what's out there:

3. Photoshop Basics

Let's keep things simple. What if you don't want to watch a three-hour course, but you need to figure out how to do something simple in Photoshop, like drawing a line or cropping an image?

In this section, we'll look at some great, simple tutorials covering the Photoshop basics for beginners.

type on a path in photoshoptype on a path in photoshoptype on a path in photoshop

How to Draw a Line in Photoshop

OK, it doesn't much simpler than drawing a line. But with so many Photoshop tools to choose from, it can be tough to do something simple like finding the Photoshop line tool. This tutorial will help you out.

How to Crop in Photoshop

Cropping is another of the basics of Photoshop that you'll need to master, and this tutorial shows you exactly how to do it.

How to Cut Out an Image

Cutting out an image from its background is another thing you'll find yourself doing a lot. This tutorial introduces you to several useful Photoshop tools, including the Lasso Tool in Photoshop.

4. Photoshop Actions

Photoshop actions let you apply incredible effects with the click of a button!

Let's look at how to use Photoshop actions, where to find the best Photoshop actions, and how to create an action in Photoshop.

lava photoshop actionlava photoshop actionlava photoshop action

What Are Photoshop Actions?

Photoshop actions are a way of recording a series of steps so that you can play them back any time in the future, just by pressing a button or using a keyboard shortcut.

As you can imagine, they can save you a lot of time. And the best Photoshop actions also help you create some pretty amazing effects in no time at all. Learn more by reading our guide to Photoshop actions or by watching this video:

How to Add Actions to Photoshop and Use Them

OK, so next you need to know how to install Photoshop actions and start using them. Fortunately, we've got a couple of videos that will help you with that:

How to Create an Action in Photoshop

What if you want to get creative and record your own actions? No problem—here are some tutorials to help you create a whole range of different Photoshop actions.

Where to Find the Best Photoshop Actions

If you want to save time, the quickest way to create a stunning effect in Photoshop is to download an action someone else has created, install it in Photoshop, and use it.

Here are some of the best Photoshop actions you can find—they're all easy to use, so you can create these amazing effects with just a few clicks.

5. Photoshop Brushes

Photoshop comes with some basic brushes built in, and you can use them to create simple drawings and paintings.

If you want to go to the next level, however, you'll want to start customising the brushes or downloading and installing your own. Learn how to do that in this section.

watercolor brush setwatercolor brush setwatercolor brush set

Start by learning the basics of brushes for Photoshop in this video with Abbey Esparza. She covers all the settings in the Brush panel, showing you how to customise brushes and how to save and install brushes in Photoshop.

Then, take it to the next level by watching this video in which Melody Nieves gives you ten tips to master Photoshop brushes. If you want to get more artistic and use brushes for Photoshop painting, then this is the video for you.

Then you can explore the huge library of hundreds of free Photoshop brush tutorials on Envato Tuts+ to help you create and use a whole range of different brush types:

Finally, if you want to download ready-made brushes and use them right away, here are seven great options. Swipe in the gallery to see them all, and click to download!

6. Layer Styles

Photoshop layer styles are a cool technique you need to know about. They let you apply effects to images and text quickly and easily.

Learn all about layer styles and how to change a layer style in Photoshop in this section.

lens burn photo effectlens burn photo effectlens burn photo effect

Photoshop layer styles make it easy to add effects, like shadows and textures, in a non-destructive way.

What's non-destructive? It means that you're not changing the image itself—you're just applying a style via a separate layer, and you can always change the effect or go back to the original if you want.

Learn more in this layer styles Photoshop tutorial on YouTube:

You can use layer styles for so many different types of effects. Here's a quick sample, and you can find loads more in the layer styles Photoshop tutorials here on Envato Tuts+.

And of course you can also download Photoshop layer styles to use in your projects. Here's a selection of some of the best options available:

7. Photo Effects

Another great use of Photoshop is to make photo effects.

Again, you can either create them yourself or download ready-made photo effects for Photoshop. We'll cover both options in this section.

glowing photo effectglowing photo effectglowing photo effect

Photoshop photo effects let you transform a simple photo into something very different and much more complex. You could create a cartoon effect, glitch effect, watercolour painting effect, and much more.

The best way to get an idea of what kind of photo effects you can create is to watch the videos below. They'll introduce you to some very cool photo effects and will give you step-by-step instructions on creating those effects yourself.

View more photo effect tutorials on YouTube

Or do you prefer written tutorials? Here's a selection of some of the best photo effect tutorials here on Envato Tuts+:

As you'll see from those tutorials, creating your own photo effects in Photoshop can be rewarding, but it's also very time-consuming. So if you prefer to use photo effects that other professional designers have already created for you, try downloading these:

8. Photo Manipulation

What if, instead of applying an effect to your photo, you want to change it completely, bringing in elements of other photos and mixing them up to create something new?

You can do that too—it's called creative photo manipulation in Photoshop, also known as creative compositing. Learn about it in this section.

photo manipulation examplephoto manipulation examplephoto manipulation example

The great thing about creative photo manipulation in Photoshop is that you can create complex works of art, without knowing how to draw or paint. You just bring elements of existing photos together to create stunning compositions.

To make your creations look realistic, however, you'll need to learn a lot of compositing techniques to help you blend photos and balance the lighting, colours, shadows, etc. Fortunately, this free course with Abbey Esparza covers all of that:

1 Hour

Photo Manipulation for Beginners | FREE COURSE

In this free course, you'll learn to create new landscapes from multiple different photos, how to extract people and objects, and how to blend them into your new environments. Learn the essential techniques of photo manipulation, such as how to blend in Photoshop, how to make a mask, how to cut out an image, how to select hair, sky replacement, how to create Photoshop custom brushes, and more! Chapters include:

  • Creating a landscape
  • Compositing a subject
  • Adding details
  • Colour correction

And here's an excellent free course on creative compositing in Photoshop with Dan White, aka Dansky:

45 Minutes

Learn Creative Compositing in Adobe Photoshop

In this free course, you’ll learn some tips and techniques for compositing images creatively in Adobe Photoshop from instructor Daniel White, aka Dansky. You’ll use a 3D asset along with some stock imagery to create a post-apocalyptic robot scene in a disused industrial warehouse. At the end of the course, you’ll have learned about composition, scale, and lighting to help you combine multiple images of your own in Adobe Photoshop! Chapters include:

  • Balancing colours and lighting
  • Adding textures
  • Shadows and glow
  • Developing the scene
  • Adding effects

If you're still looking for photo manipulation ideas, check out these wonderfully creative tutorials. As you can see, this technique gives you so much scope for making something surreal, funny, cute, or just plain weird!

Read More Photo Manipulation Tutorials

9. Text Effects

Photoshop is great for images and graphics, but did you know you can also use it to create dramatic text effects?

If you want to set text on fire, make it glow like metal or have it shimmer like ice, Photoshop is the tool for you. Learn all about creating Photoshop text effects in this section.

wood text effectwood text effectwood text effect

It's easy to make cool text effects in Photoshop. All you have to do is take some text and use layer styles and other Photoshop tools to give it the desired look. You could make your text look like grass, party balloons, cartoon text, and so much more!

For example, here's how to create a neon text effect in Photoshop:

And that's just one example! There are loads more possibilities out there. Learn how to add effects to text in Photoshop by watching these videos:

Want more? Check out this YouTube playlist, which features dozens of free videos on a whole range of text effects, from embroidery to clouds, lava, and much more!

Or if you prefer written tutorials, here's a selection for you to sink your teeth into:

10. Photoshop Templates

Photoshop is also a great app for creating posters, flyers, and other printed products like magazine covers.

You'll learn how to make them in this section, and we'll also look at some cool graphic design templates to help you complete your projects more quickly and easily.

poster template in photoshopposter template in photoshopposter template in photoshop

The best way to learn how to create your own Photoshop print documents is to watch a comprehensive free course that takes you through the full step-by-step process. Here's one on Photoshop poster design:

And here are some quick tips from our course on flyer design:

Photoshop Flyer Design Tips


Set Your Document Up Right

For a successful flyer design, you'll want to start by choosing the right dimensions and setting up the document properly.


Use High-Quality Imagery

Choose the best stock imagery or use your own images to give your flyer instant appeal.


Match the Style to the Purpose

Flyer design can vary widely depending on the purpose of the flyer. You'll see two very different examples in this course: a fun music festival flyer and an elegant, formal Art Deco invitation.

You can also learn from our huge selection of written tutorials on Photoshop poster design, flyer design, and more.

Photoshop Poster Design Tutorials

Photoshop Flyer Design Tutorials

Photoshop Magazine Design Tutorials

Photoshop Brochure Design Tutorials

Read More Photoshop Template Tutorials

Get a Head Start With a Photoshop Template

Although these tutorials will help you create any kind of document you want, it will still take time to set up the document and create your design from scratch. A high-quality Photoshop template will give you a professionally designed structure, so that all you need to do is drop in your own images and text to create stunning results in no time!

Here are a few of the best graphic design templates you could choose:


We've covered a lot of ground in this article. If you've finished the whole thing and followed all the links to more detailed tutorials, you should now be in a great position to use Photoshop in all your graphic design projects.

You've also seen some great templates and add-ons to help you get the most out of Photoshop's powerful set of features. Just to finish off, here are a few more excellent choices for you.

photoshop actionsphotoshop actionsphotoshop actions
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