How Long Does it Take to Learn Photoshop?

Master Adobe Photoshop, the industry-standard photo editing software, to enhance your artistic skills or take your career to the next level. Learn how to use its features to create captivating digital images, impressive graphics, and more, all within a few short months.

Key Insights

  • Photoshop is a versatile software, integral in various fields like graphic design, web design, and social media.
  • With Photoshop, you can edit, enhance, and create digital images, besides designing graphics for social media, logos, and website interfaces.
  • The average beginner can acquire proficiency in Photoshop's most commonly used tools in two to three months.
  • Prior experience with design principles and your motivation for learning Photoshop can influence the time taken to learn the software.
  • Photoshop is a subscription-based software with different plans starting from $20.99 per month.
  • Noble Desktop offers Photoshop classes and certificate programs that include free retake options within a year to help you hone your skills further.

Like many aspiring artists or designers, you might want to learn Photoshop but worry that it will take too much time. On the surface, Photoshop may appear complicated, and there are many advanced functions within the program. However, many experts believe that most people can become proficient in Photoshop’s most commonly used tools in just a few short months. Of course, this depends on several factors. Keep reading to learn more about how you can learn Photoshop quickly and some resources to help speed the process along.

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.

Average Time it Takes to Learn Photoshop

On average, the typical beginner takes between two and three months to learn Photoshop. Of course, this doesn’t mean they have an intricate understanding of every tool or advanced technique. It does mean that they should be able to independently navigate the interface to complete edits and create graphics successfully. Here is a sample breakdown of the steps a person might take to learn Photoshop:

  • Learn the interface: This essential step is one that beginners often skip since they’re eager to dive in and get creative. However, memorizing where specific tools are located before learning to use them can reduce your learning time significantly. It will also help you feel less frustrated, making it more likely that you’ll stick with the process even when it becomes more challenging. Most people can understand Photoshop’s interface in just a few hours.
  • Learn to use each tool: Many Photoshop professionals have found success in their learning by sticking with one tool at a time before combining them for more complex edits. For example, they’ll learn the Lasso Tool and complete several practice projects to perfect this skill before moving on to something else. Learning to use one tool could take less than an hour, but the time you’ll spend on practice projects can vary.
  • Practice with small projects: Understandably, this part of the process will take most of your time. There are many ways to practice using Photoshop; you can try multiple methods to see which you prefer. Some people follow YouTube tutorials to copy someone’s design and learn their techniques, then modify the project to make the design more unique and find their style. Others will complete a “30-Day Photoshop Challenge'' where they complete a new project every day. There is no right or wrong way to practice; the purpose is to get you comfortable using Photoshop and build positive habits around your workflow.

Other Factors

Industry experts agree on the average time it takes most people to learn Photoshop. However, there are other factors at play that can further contribute to how long you should expect the process to take. Bear in mind that none of these factors means that you can’t learn Photoshop or shouldn’t bother trying; it just means that it may take you longer than average.

Prior Experience with Design Principles

The basic principles of design include balance, contrast, white space, and proportions. Knowledge of these topics is essential to ensuring success in using Photoshop. For example, understanding how different colors complement each other will impact how you edit your images. While it still might take a few months to learn how to use all of Photoshop’s different tools, a working knowledge of design principles will enable you to use these tools more effectively and produce results that appeal to a wider audience.

Reasons for Learning Photoshop

Another factor that impacts how long it will take to learn Photoshop is the reason that you’re learning in the first place. Are you curious about the program because you’re a hobby photographer, or do you need experience with Photoshop to qualify for a promotion at work? Those with a professional or financial reason for learning the program might be more motivated to learn in a shorter period than those who are learning for fun. You’ll also want to consider what you plan on using Photoshop for, since editing and enhancing existing images takes much less time than creating new images from scratch.

Current Schedule and Budget

Scheduling and financial constraints can be barriers to learning a new skill in a timely manner. Not everyone has the money to spend on a comprehensive class; even if someone enrolls in a shorter course to learn the basics of Photoshop, they will still have to self-teach themselves plenty of additional skills.

A class may not fit in with someone’s schedule for various reasons. Perhaps they already work full-time, or they’re balancing school with a part-time job. People who have to fit their learning into a busy schedule may need more time to feel comfortable using Photoshop.

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.

Watch a Free Photoshop Online Course

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.

Learn 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.

How to Learn Photoshop

Master Photoshop, the industry-standard application for photo retouching, color correction, and more, with hands-on training.

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