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Learn Photoshop

A Comprehensive Guide to Start Learning Photoshop

Photoshop is a software program available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Its primary functions include editing, enhancing, and creating digital images from scratch.

There aren’t many software programs that have as stellar of a reputation as Adobe Photoshop; in fact, most people have heard or even used the term “Photoshopped” when looking at an image, even if they’ve never used the program itself. This digital image editing program is considered the gold standard for many creative professionals. If you’ve always wanted to learn Photoshop but can’t figure out how to get started, this guide is for you. Here, you’ll learn more about the various ways to learn Photoshop, free resources to take advantage of, and the types of careers that use Photoshop the most.

What is Photoshop?

Photoshop is a software program available as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud. Its primary functions include editing, enhancing, and creating digital images from scratch. The program has a wide range of impressive capabilities. Creative professionals across nearly every industry can use Photoshop to design anything from graphics for social media, logos, and the interface of an entire website!

You can use Photoshop to adjust lighting and colors and to create a single image from your favorite components of existing photos. The program comes loaded with plenty of retouching tools, enabling you to remove anything you feel makes your image less than perfect. If you’re scanning a physical photo into the program, you can edit it to remove stains, tears, and wrinkles. Photoshop also contains rudimentary animation capabilities, meaning users can create GIFs with the program as well. 

Read more about what Photoshop is and why you should learn it. 

What Can You Do with Photoshop?

Photoshop is the industry standard software for photo editing. The program can make virtually any adjustment you can think of, and you can add or remove almost anything you want to create your perfect final image. For example, photographers who work with large groups will often use Photoshop to make a composite of several images; this way, they can combine the best photo of each individual into one picture. 

But Photoshop is used for so much more than enhancing images! Graphic Designers frequently use the program to design logos and advertisements for their clients. Because the program allows users to combine multiple images, designers in any industry can use Photoshop to quickly demonstrate how a proposed design would appear on a product. This helps their clients get a clear picture of the final product and quickly make changes, saving both time and money.

It’s also commonly used in web design. Although you can’t code a website in Photoshop, you can use it to create mockups of interfaces, backgrounds, and graphics that designers will add to a website later. Photoshop also contains powerful image compression tools, ensuring the images on a website are clear rather than pixelated. Web Designers can also use the program to build the layout of a website, though other tools are more capable of creating a responsive design.

Careers that Use Photoshop

You might wonder what types of careers await you once you’re comfortable with the ins and outs of Photoshop. While any career will require more than one skill, proficiency with Photoshop is an excellent stepping stone toward landing a variety of creative jobs. Here are just a few areas you may find yourself working in once you’ve become more familiar with Photoshop:

  • Graphic Design: These professionals are responsible for designing images that quickly communicate a message or establish a brand to their viewers. These images are usually enhanced or entirely created with Photoshop. Graphic Designers can either work freelance or work for one company. Their work can be seen in various places, including company logos, social media campaigns, and digital and print advertisements.
  • Digital Design: This career path often gets confused with graphic design. While both roles contain similar elements, Digital Designers tend to work with more dynamic designs, such as animation, 3D modeling, and interactive pages. They use Photoshop to add effects and combine images to convey a message about their client or business.
  • User Interface (UI) Design: People in these roles create the interfaces for mobile applications and websites. These professionals use Photoshop to make their designs more appealing by creating static images and simple animations for the product they’re working on. UI Designers focus on creating products that are both visually stunning and accessible for anyone who uses the app or visits the website.
  • Web Design: Those who are comfortable with Photoshop and possess strong technical skills might enjoy working as a Web Designer. In combination with stellar coding skills, Web Designers use Photoshop and other design software to create visually pleasing images that have been optimized for display on the web. Web Designers can also use the program to create simple animated GIFs and website mock-ups. This allows them to easily edit their designs without sifting through lines of complicated code. 

Why Learn Photoshop?

Businesses across industries use visual imagery to quickly grab our attention and entice us into paying for their product or service. This means that the ability to generate beautiful graphics is a lucrative addition to any resume, regardless of your ultimate career goals. Using Photoshop is an in-demand skill that can prepare you for several fascinating careers. Some options include becoming a Graphic Designer, a Digital Designer, or a User Interface (UI) Designer. All of these careers earn competitive salaries and can often provide you with flexible remote working opportunities. 

Learning Photoshop can also give you a solid foundation to learn other design programs depending on your interests and professional aspirations. For instance, you might learn Adobe InDesign if you’re interested in publishing, or you could look into Adobe Illustrator to help secure a career in fashion design. Photoshop is highly compatible with other programs within the Adobe Creative Cloud, so getting familiar with any of these programs is an excellent way to continue boosting your skills. 

Read more about why you should learn Photoshop

How to Learn Photoshop

If you feel you need the structure of a class to help you succeed at learning Photoshop, Noble Desktop has several options to help you find a course that will suit your needs. The school developed a class locator tool to help students locate in-person Photoshop classes in their area for those who prefer in-person learning. For students who prefer virtual learning, you can check out Noble Desktop’s live online Photoshop classes instead. 

For those with an already packed schedule, the demands of a live class might be too big a burden. If this sounds like you, on-demand Photoshop classes might be a better fit. Some of these introductory courses are free, while others require a subscription to the platform that hosts the course. There are on-demand options for beginners who want to learn the basics and advanced students who are ready to learn some of Photoshop's more complex features. On-demand options are available through providers like LinkedIn Learning, Skillsoft, and Udemy.

Video demonstrations are another excellent way to begin learning Photoshop. There is an entire YouTube playlist devoted to in-depth Photoshop tutorials provided by Noble Desktop. These videos cover topics like photo restoration and industry-standard illustration techniques.You can also search through Noble’s free seminars to view courses related to Photoshop, like the Intro to Photoshop training. This two-hour course teaches viewers about the program’s essential functions and discusses fundamental principles of design. 

Read the full guide on how to learn Photoshop.

Free Introductory Photoshop Course Online 

If you’re not quite ready to dive into a full course, but you still want an overview of Photoshop, you can still start learning Photoshop for free online! Check out Noble Desktop’s free Intro to Photoshop course. This two-hour training teaches viewers about Photoshop’s essential functions and discusses fundamental principles of design. You’ll also learn about which Adobe Creative Cloud plan you should invest in, tips to save your files, and how to select the appropriate resolutions for print files and digital files.

There are other online providers that offer free Photoshop classes as well. Udemy has a handful of courses that cover the basics of Photoshop for different career paths, like web design and graphic design. You can also find some classes for free on Coursera, including one about the fundamental principles of graphic design. There are also hundreds of tutorials available on YouTube, but you’ll want to focus on recent uploads. This ensures you’re learning the most recent version of Photoshop with the most current trends.

Read about more free Photoshop videos and online tutorials.

Level of Difficulty, Prerequisites, & Cost 

On the surface, Photoshop appears difficult to learn because of the sheer amount of features and tools available within the program. However, many experts agree that dedicated learners can become proficient in the essential elements in 15-20 hours; this can be done intensively over a few days or over a few weeks if people study a bit each day. People who attempt to teach themselves Photoshop often give up because they don’t know where to begin and unintentionally try to grasp advanced concepts without any foundational knowledge. That’s why learning to navigate the interface and understanding the functions of the most important tools is the ideal way to get started. 

While Photoshop is one of the easier Adobe programs to master, any beginner should still have a few additional skills before they’re ready to learn. Aside from possessing basic computer skills, those wanting to learn Photoshop should also study design principles like composition and color theory. This will help ensure that the enhancements they make to their images will appeal to any audience. Researching current photography trends is another essential prerequisite. After all, you don’t want to make a habit of editing images in an outdated manner.

Like all Adobe programs, Photoshop is a subscription-based software. Rather than purchasing the program outright, users pay a monthly fee for continued access. Adobe offers a few different plans that include Photoshop, and they all come with a seven-day free trial. If you only want to use Photoshop, the cost is $20.99 per month, but there is also a Photography Plan that includes Adobe Lightroom for $19.99 a month. Users who want access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud will be charged $54.99 monthly. These prices also vary depending on whether you’re making the purchase as an individual, a student, or for a business. 

Read about how difficult it is to learn Photoshop.

How Does Learning Photoshop Compare to Other Applications?

Because most creative professions require the use of multiple tools, it’s rare for anybody in this industry to only learn one program. If you’re interested in learning Photoshop, you might wonder what else you should learn and how the process will compare. Two of the programs that are most commonly used with Photoshop are Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign. The cost for these programs is the same as Photoshop ($20.99 per month to access one program and $54.99 for access to the whole Creative Cloud), but their functions and learning processes are very different.

Like Photoshop, Illustrator is used to create professional-grade visual designs. Illustrator is a vector-based program, meaning the designs created with this program are scalable; they can be embedded in an email or on a billboard, and the quality will remain the same at any size. Most experts agree that Illustrator has a steeper learning curve than Photoshop, so it’s recommended that people learn Photoshop first; with similar interfaces and tools, familiarity with Photoshop will make Illustrator easier to master.

InDesign is a desktop publishing application that creates beautiful layouts for things like magazines, books, and posters. It is considered one of the most user-friendly programs offered by Adobe, but there are plenty of different tools to get comfortable with before you can use the program to its full potential. While many industry professionals feel that beginners can learn the basic features in a matter of weeks, true mastery of InDesign can take years. Learning more about publication layout practices is one of the main challenges associated with learning InDesign, so getting familiar with concepts like pagination and text flow can help speed the process along.

How to Decide the Best Way to Learn Photoshop

Because there are so many methods available to learn Photoshop, it’s wise to spend some time considering which will work best for you before getting started. One of the most important things to focus on is understanding why you want to learn and what you hope to do with your new skills in Photoshop. If you’re a complete beginner or aren’t sure if Photoshop is a good fit, you may want to start with a short introductory course like Noble Desktop’s free Intro to Photoshop seminar. This course provides a basic overview of what Photoshop does and how different professionals use the program, but there’s no risk of losing money if you decide to learn another design program instead.

For those who are more confident that Photoshop will help them grow in their current career, a bootcamp might be a better fit. Noble Desktop has a three-day Photoshop Bootcamp that immerses students in the most critical functions within the program, taking them from beginner to advanced in less than a week. These shorter programs are an excellent investment for professionals who need to learn additional skills but lack the available time for a longer course.

If learning Photoshop will help you start a new career or enter a new industry, it's worth checking out some of Noble Desktop’s certificate programs. These provide detailed instruction in multiple design programs and offer one-on-one career mentorship to help students prepare to enter the job market. Designed specifically for beginners, the Graphic Design Certificate teaches students how to use Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign in one comprehensive course. Others might be interested in the six-week UI Design Certificate, which discusses using Figma to create responsive mobile apps and websites.

Different learning tools can meet different needs depending on your learning preferences. You’ll want to be sure you enroll in a program that won’t stress your budget unnecessarily or leave you with insufficient time to take care of yourself; people who are under a lot of stress generally don’t retain information very well. Deciding which method will best accommodate you can feel daunting at first, but it will ultimately save you time and money. If one method doesn’t work out how you’d hope, you can always pivot to something new. 

Conquer Photoshop with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop offers a range of Photoshop classes that are sure to meet a variety of scheduling needs and learning styles. Whether students attend in-person at Noble’s Manhattan campus or virtually from anywhere in the world, they’ll learn from expert instructors in small groups. All Noble courses also include a free retake option within one year, giving students additional opportunities to hone their skills at no additional charge.

For students who only have a few days to spare, the Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp is an excellent way to move from beginner to intermediate in just three days. This course guides students through various projects that each target a specific skill within Photoshop. By the end of the bootcamp, students will be able to complete tasks like adjusting colors, creating a composite image, and removing components of an image to make the end result more appealing.

Photoshop is also covered in a few of Noble Desktop’s more intensive certificate programs. There is a Graphic Design Certificate that teaches Photoshop and two other Adobe programs– Illustrator and InDesign. If you are curious about using Photoshop to design web and mobile interfaces, the UI Design Certificate might be a great fit. You’ll incorporate several design principles to create stunning and accessible interfaces using Figma and multiple Adobe programs. Participants in these programs will add their coursework into a portfolio they can show off to potential employers.

More Photoshop Resources

  • 5 Tools for Designing Logos in Illustrator

    Learn about the Five tools to design Logos.

  • 10 Typographic Tips for Beginning Designers

    10 Typographic Tips for Beginning Designers.

  • 4 Useful Blending Modes in Photoshop To Enhance Your Photos

    Use Photoshop's Blend Modes

  • Photoshop Intro Course: Photo Retouching

  • Photoshop Intro Course: Creating Graphics

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