While Photoshop is considered the industry standard for photo editors, many are unaware of its capabilities beyond simple photo editing, such as retouching, color adjustment, or adding special effects. As a whole, Photoshop can be used for a variety of design projects, from creating animated GIFs to designing web pages.

What is Adobe Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor used to create both photos and vector graphics. It offers users a wide range of features, including retouching images, adjusting colors, etc. Photoshop also has design features that make it ideal for creating social media content and basic animation.

What Can Photoshop Do?

As discussed above, Photoshop is capable of more than just simple editing. Here are some of the most common uses for Photoshop:

Photo Editing

This is perhaps the most well-known use for Photoshop. With Photoshop, you can crop photos, change colors, and remove color casts to create a certain mood in any image. The program enables you to retouch and remove any elements you don't want in your photo, adjusting the cool or warm tones or making a unique appearance.

You can also composite multiple images in a single photograph. Let's assume you have three separate photos with various people in them. While there is a decent face in each picture, you don't have one photo where everyone is smiling or has their eyes open. Photoshop makes it simple to combine these three distinct faces into a single image.

Additional photo editing tasks in Photoshop include:

  • Blurring backgrounds
  • Adding text
  • Creating vignettes
  • Applying filters

Photoshop for Animation

While Photoshop is not primarily used for animation, it does offer a few features that can be helpful when creating simple animations. These include the timeline feature, which lets you create frame-by-frame animations, and the ability to create animated GIFs.

Animated GIFs are extremely popular in email marketing, and Photoshop is an excellent tool for creating these simple GIFs. You can also use Photoshop to create an animated GIF by exporting a video as an animated GIF.

Photoshop for Basic Video Editing

While Photoshop is not a video editing program, it does offer some basic video editing capabilities. These include the ability to trim videos, add filters, and export videos in various formats.

If you're looking to do more than simply trim a video or add a filter, you'll need to use a dedicated video editing program like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro. However, if you're just starting with video editing, Photoshop can be a good place to start.

Let's take a closer look at some of the editing functions found within Photoshop.


Another common use for Photoshop is retouching images. This can be anything from removing wrinkles from a photo to airbrushing skin blemishes. You can also use Photoshop to remove objects from photos or change the background of an image.


When working within Photoshop, you must pay attention to the layers, including the specific layer you’re working on. Layers are where pixels live, and pixels are little square blocks. This means that when you boil an image down to its core, it's just little square blocks of color. Those blocks are called pixels, and a layer is a layer of pixels.

While editing an image, you can have multiple layers on top of one another. This is because any changes made may be unknowingly permanently changing the background layer. Once you save the file or close the program, the original image is permanently altered. The undo function will not be available to reverse those changes, which is why it’s so important to ensure you are working on additional layers and not the background layer.

Color Adjustments

If you want to change the overall color of an image, Photoshop is the perfect tool. By adjusting the hue, saturation, and brightness, you can create a completely different look for any image. You can also use Photoshop to convert color images to black and white.

Special Effects

Photoshop also offers a variety of special effects that can be applied to any image. These include filters, textures, and layer styles. Filters can be used to create a certain look or feel, such as a vintage look or a comic book effect. Textures can add depth and interest, while layer styles can be used to create shadows, embossing, and other effects.

Designing for Social Media

As social media becomes more and more visual, it's important to have sharp, attention-grabbing images. Photoshop is an excellent tool for creating these types of images. You can use Photoshop to create infographics, banners, and even animated GIFs.

Animated GIFs are a great way to add some personality to your social media posts. You can use Photoshop to create simple animations that can be used on Twitter, Facebook, or even in email marketing campaigns.

Web Design

In addition to being a great tool for creating visual content, Photoshop is also used for web design. Photoshop can create website mockups, wireframes, and even full-fledged websites. If you're a Web Designer, Photoshop is an essential tool.

Photoshop is a powerful photo editing and design program with a wide range of capabilities. From basic photo editing to designing for social media, Photoshop can do it all. Remember that the software is complex, and it’s nearly impossible to learn all of the functions right away. Once you learn the fundamentals of Photoshop, you'll be amazed at what you can create.

If you’re ready to learn this versatile software, consider the wide selection of Photoshop classes and certificate courses from Noble Desktop. There are several options for these courses, including in-person classes and live online instruction for those who live outside of New York City. You will learn all the fundamental skills needed to start editing your images with Photoshop.

There is an Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp for those who want more immersive training on retouching images, creating graphics, and basic animation. While these courses are in-depth, they are suitable for beginners and those with limited knowledge of the software. 

Students should also consider obtaining a Graphic Design Certificate, which teaches InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. These are the three main Adobe apps that designers use, and the course also goes into some graphic design concepts like typography and color composition.