Fundamentals of Photoshop: Creating Efficient Workflows, Tips, and Tricks (Photoshop V) | Meg Lewis | Skillshare

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Fundamentals of Photoshop: Creating Efficient Workflows, Tips, and Tricks (Photoshop V)

teacher avatar Meg Lewis, Designer, comedian, performer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Intro to History


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Intro to Batch Edit


    • 5.

      Batch Editing


    • 6.

      Intro to Organizing Your Layers


    • 7.

      Organizing Layers


    • 8.

      Intro to Customizing Your Workspace


    • 9.

      Customizing Your Workspace


    • 10.

      Intro to Creating Actions


    • 11.

      Creating Actions/Final Project


    • 12.

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About This Class

In collaboration with Adobe, we're excited to announce a free 5-class series on Adobe Photoshop CC for Beginners that'll run from March 1 – March 31st 2015. Each week, you’ll create projects in Photoshop and submit your work on Skillshare for feedback from your classmates, pushing your skills even further.

If you complete all project assignments before the final deadline, you’ll be eligible to receive a free voucher to take the Adobe Certified Associate exam in Photoshop (a $95 value). The top student chosen by the class teaching assistants (TAs) will also be awarded 1 free year of Creative Cloud membership. Judging will be based on quality of projects submitted and student participation.

This is the fifth class in the 5-class series.

Important Notice

A trial of Adobe Photoshop CC or Creative Cloud membership will be needed to get the most out of this course. If you’re not a Creative Cloud member we recommend that you download a free 30-day trial of Adobe Photoshop CC when you start the course.

→ Click here to start your 30-day free trial of Adobe Photoshop CC

→ Click here to purchase a Creative Cloud membership

Welcome to the fifth and final class in this five-part series of Photoshop classes. Throughout this series we'll cover everything you need to know to become a Photoshop pro. Knowing how to use Photoshop is an incredibly useful skill and is commonly used by anyone from photographers to graphic designers and illustrators. It is such a robust program that can be extremely overwhelming. I'll do my best to make you feel comfortable while I teach you the ins and outs.

This series is perfect if you're slightly familiar with yet aren't completely confident in your Photoshop skills. If you have never opened Photoshop and are feeling brave; this class is great for you too! It’s absolutely fine if you’ve never opened Photoshop until now.

Photoshop is such an exciting program as it allows you to produce so many kinds of beautiful things. Anything from beautiful business cards and stationery to websites tailored just for you can be created in Photoshop. The goal of this series is to get you to expert level so that your imagination can go straight to Photoshop’s canvas.

What You'll Learn
In this class (Photoshop V) you'll learn some truly time-saving techniques from going back in your Photoshop history to creating Photoshop actions that you'll be able to use again and again. Topics covered in this class include:

  • History and Time Traveling. Photoshop allows us to go back in time and revert back to a previous state. That really comes in handy when you make a lot of decisions that you don’t end up liking. I’ll show you around the history window to make sure you’re comfortable time traveling. See you 5 minutes ago!
  • Create Actions. Photoshop actions are a huge time saver. If you find yourself going through the same design process when using Photoshop, actions are definitely for you. Together we’ll learn how to record actions, save them, and reuse them over and over. You’ll thank me later.
  • Batch Editing. Continuing our “time saving” theme, I’ll show you guys how to batch edit layers and quickly apply the same layer styles over and over. This is one of my favorite things to do and really allows me to work fast.
  • Organize Layers. I'll show you some of my advanced techniques for organizing layers. Being extremely detail-oriented and picky about how my layers are organized allows me to keep a clean, stress-free workflow. Unorganized chaotic layers really equal a ton of unnecessary stress. We’ll probably add years to your life with this lesson!
  • Move Around Your Canvas. I’ll show you how to customize the way Photoshop looks by rearranging windows, manipulating the toolbar, and changing the color of the interface.

What You'll Make
At the end of the class you'll create your very own Photoshop action for editing photos. You'll be able to save this action and use it again and again at the click of a button. Take a look at the images above to see my favorite Photoshop action.

Required Class Supplies
Adobe Photoshop. If you don’t have the program you can download a 30 day free trial here. All class tutorials are recorded on a Mac using Photoshop via Adobe Creative Cloud. You do not need a Mac or the most recent version of Photoshop to follow along. Most of the tools are consistent across all versions of Photoshop. 

Please note: Photoshop Elements is a limited version of Photoshop and is not recommended for this course.

Other Classes in This Series:

Meet Your Teacher

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Meg Lewis

Designer, comedian, performer


Hi! I'm Meg! I'm a designer, performer, and educator making the world a happier place through books! talks! writing! spaces! podcasts! workshops! and videos! I work with brands like Dropbox, Pinterest, Facebook, Condé Nast Digital, Slack, NPR, Vox, VICE, Google, and Bloomingdale’s to create playful content and experiences that cultivate a positive emotional connection between their brand and community. I love to combine comedy with my unique skillset to create businesses, projects, and offerings that turn traditionally boring subjects into fun, impactful experiences!

As an expert on non-conformity and personal brand, my educational resources, classes, and workshops have helped thousands of brands and individuals shine!

&nb... See full profile

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1. Trailer: Hi. I'm Meg Lewis. This class is all about saving time and learning advanced tricks that will improve your life and your Photoshop workflow. We'll do some light time-traveling paired with creative time-saving Photoshop actions. I'll also let you in on a few secrets about customizing Photoshop to your own taste and getting your work space setup to your liking. At the end of this class, you'll create your very own Photoshop action for editing photos that you can use again and again. 2. Intro to History: Photoshop allows us to go back in time and revert back to a previous state. That really comes in handy when you make a lot of decisions that you don't end up liking. I'll show you around the history window to make sure that you're comfortable in time traveling. See you five minutes ago. 3. History: Hello and welcome to the fifth and final class in my Photoshop series. I am exceptionally proud of you for making it to the end, and I really hope that this lesson will be the most valuable of all the classes because we're going to be saving so much time and energy and learning a lot of tips and tricks along the way. First up is learning about history and going back in time. Now, I've been using history throughout these tutorials because I just can't stop using it. It is such a habit of mine to go back in time and use the history window that I really couldn't stop and I know that you probably noticed me using it, and I kept mentioning that we would cover it later, and we finally reached that time. All right. So, this is the history window. You can see it says History up here. If you don't have it there, you can see that you can check history in your windows panel. So, the thing to know is that Photoshop saves your last twenty actions by default. So, the last twenty things you did in Photoshop, it saves for you on disk, and you can actually change the number of history state, so you can upped that to more than twenty or you can down it to less than twenty. Obviously, this is a memory issue, so if you have it at a higher number, it's just going to run a little slower for you. But if you have it at a lower number, it will run faster. I like to have it at a higher number because I use history so darn much and if you want to change it to a higher number,you just simply go to Photoshop, Preferences and performance. These are a bunch of doodads that help your Photoshop running faster. History is just one of them. If you go to History and Cache and put History States at 20, which is the default, you can up that to 40 or 50, or even higher. I like 40 so I did 40 and pressed Enter, and now I can see 40 history states and I can really go back in time. I don't have too much history on this project, so I don't exactly have 40 quite yet, but if I wanted to go back in time, this is how I would do it. You go to your History and you can literally just select back in time, and this is where I was a few steps back. Then, if you click on the top one, this is where you are whenever you first opened the project. Again, you can just keep clicking these to go back in time and see where you were at those times. So, you can see here I cropped, back here I changed the fonts a little bit. This is really helpful if you end up making a series of changes that you don't like. You can just go back in the History and revert back to a state that you were at previously, which is exceptionally helpful and I really love doing this. 4. Intro to Batch Edit: Continuing our time-saving theme, I'll show you guys how to batch edit layers and quickly apply the same layers out over and over. This is one of my favorite things to do and really allows me to work fast. 5. Batch Editing: I've touched briefly on batch editing in the past in other classes, but I really want to dive into it again just in case you weren't enrolled in the other classes along the way. Batch editing is really important if you've created some of what we call these layer styles and effects on your layer, just as I have with Laura, I made a little drop shadow behind her. So, if I wanted to add that drop shadow effect to some of these other layers. For instance, if I wanted to add drop shadow to the happy birthday text, I can easily do that with batch editing and applying these styles to various layers. So, if I have this effect in on Laura, her drop shadow. So if I just hover my mouse over this fx button, and then while holding down alt option, I click and I drag, and I let go on that layer. There, it added that drop shadow to the text. So going Command Z to undo, I'll do that again. To add this effects layer style to happy birthday layer, I just hold down alt option, click and drag and drop onto happy birthday. It's as easy as that to apply those effects, and it really saves a lot of time rather than having to click into here and apply those effects one at a time. It's really nice to do that. If I want to get rid of the effects at anytime, I simply just drag the effect and drop it in my trash can. It's really helpful that way. At any time, if I feel like I am unhappy with some of my layers, I can always throw them away. In order to throw away multiple layers, you simply just click on the top one and then click on the bottom one while holding down shift, and you have them all selected, and now you can just drag and drop them right into your trash can and go back to your background layer. It's quite nice and quite easy. 6. Intro to Organizing Your Layers: In this lesson, I will show you some of my advanced techniques for organizing layers. Being extremely detail-oriented and picky about how my layers are organized allows me to keep clean stress-free workload. All unorganized chaotic layers really equals a ton of unnecessary stress. We'll probably add years to your life for this lesson. 7. Organizing Layers: Let me quickly go over with you how I like to organize my layers because this is incredibly important especially when you're designing something quite large and you end up with hundreds of layers, it gets out of control very quickly and organizing your layers is the key to being able to find them easily whenever you need them. Okay, here's what I do. I generally start out by grouping things together that are like-minded or actually clustered together. So, for instance, I would naturally group all of these shapes together that create this illustration with a wine glass and the sailboat. Okay. So, as long as I have all my layers named, I can do it this way. For example, if these layers were not named, here's how I would name them very quickly and easily I could type "Orange boat". Now, while I still have this type box up, I can press tab which will go on to the next layer ready to go and I can title this "Second orange boat" and I can press Tab again and type, "White boat" and it's really easy that way. When I'm finished, I just press Enter. So, that tab button is crucial to being able to name and organize your layers properly. All right. So, if I wanted to group these together because they are like-minded, I would open up a new layer group here, this little folder button, click there and type "Wine illustration" is what I would call it. Now, I'd like be really descriptive just so that I know what it is when I'm looking at a glance. Now, select all of these items in my wine illustration, drag and drop into that folder there just like so and now I have them all grouped together. Now, for all of these type I would do the same. I would organize them in an order of which they appear. So, Eastern and North-Eastern England 1961 is first, so I would put that up at the top with 1961. Next, I will just go down to holiday haunts which is holiday haunts and then British railways price 2, here it is in order and now I would go over to holiday haunts and then Eastern and North-Eastern and number three. So, holiday haunts, Eastern North-Eastern, number three. Okay, that's perfect. Now that they're in the right order, I'd like to group them together in their own group. So, I'll create a new folder and title this "Typography" and then grab all of these and drag them right into that Typography folder, and now you can see these are all grouped together and it's really nice and organized. I would also finish by naming these two. This is cream background and press Tab to go the next layer. This one is original poster design. Okay. Now, last thing I'd like to do is colorize and categorize my layers by color, okay. I've showed you how to do this once before but I'll mention it again. In order to do that you need to right-click on your specific layers or groups from folders. So, for example, I'll right-click on typography and give that a color of grey and now you see everything is colored grey. I could change that color to yellow and everything's colored yellow that's in that group, which is quite nice. If I wanted to colorize the wine illustration to maybe red, I could do that and then the green background, I can give that orange or to make it a little different, I'll give it blue and lastly, my original poster design, I can make purple. Sometimes if something is a specific color, say my typography was all red, I would maybe color that layer group red, for example, just so that a color association is a little bit easier and you can see things at a glance. Colorizing things is exceptionally helpful as well. Whenever you have these giant layer files of Photoshop files and you just have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of layers. It really comes in handy. So, this is how I like to name and organize my layers to keep everything nice and clean. 8. Intro to Customizing Your Workspace: Did you guys know that you can completely customize the way Photoshop looks? I'll show you exactly how to do that by rearranging your windows, manipulating your toolbar, and changing the color and the interface. Exciting stuff. 9. Customizing Your Workspace: I'm really excited to tell you all about a few things that you can do to customize the way Photoshop looks for you. I normally never have my Photoshop looking like how you've been seeing it throughout these classes. There are few things that I do to change the appearance of Photoshop and I'm going to show you how to do the same. The first thing I do is change the interface. I go to Photoshop, Preferences, Interface, and it brings up this dialogue box that gives you a few options. For example, you can have it really dark, I like to have it as light as possible. The reason for this is being when I am organizing my layers into color groups. I can see the color groups a lot better with this lighter interface than I could with the darker interface. I can usually tell the color of my shapes a little bit better, too, if I'm creating a shape that is, for instance, red. I can see the shape color in this area much better with this lighter interface and I could with the darker interface. It's just a personal preference, and I encourage you to get your own personal preference and if you'd like the dark interface, that's absolutely fine. I will switch back to the dark interface for now just to finish this tutorial. So, here we have the dark interface and let's change a few other things along the way. There are things called workspaces in Photoshop, you can see them here when you click on Window, Workspace. For example, if you are a photographer you could click on Photography and it will arrange this area over here and your tools to work best for a photographer. For me, I'm a designer. So, I like to have my own custom one for designers. All right. So, to do that, I'd like to reset the workspace back to the way it was before. By doing that, I can go to Workspace, Essentials which is the default. So I go to Essentials and then I work off of that. For example, I really like having type and layers, so text and layers are really important to me. So, I like having these nice and big. As I mentioned before, you can pull windows out and you can grab them and rearrange them into an order of your choosing. For example, if I want the History window out, too, which I normally do like to have that out, I can pull it out and then double-click in this area or just click these arrows and it will make it larger. Okay. These are all snappy, so they'll all snap to this area and they compress arrows and rearrange them accordingly as you like them. If, for example, you don't want brush presets or there's another window that you don't like and you'd like to close it at anytime, that's absolutely fine. You can go up to this little menu here and do Close and that will get rid of that. I'm going to close this one, too, because I don't use that either. I do, however, use history so I want to make this larger. To make it larger, I just need to double-click here which makes it larger. It's pretty intuitive. You have to figure out a little bit how to do all these things, but if you just keep double-clicking and pressing menus and pulling and dragging, you'll get the hang of it. It's quite easy. So say, for an example, this was the workspace that I like for me and this is how I want to have my Photoshop always looking all the time, that's okay. I can actually save this workspace and give it a little name. So, if I go to Workspace, New Workspace, I can give it a name, I can title it "Meg's Workspace" and do Save. So, now, in the future, if I end up with the default again, Reset Essentials, there we go. So, I just reset it to the default essentials. Now, I can go to Workspace, Meg's Workspace and look at that. It brings up my workspace just how I like it. Also, it's up here in this corner, too. So, I can either reset my workspace, say while I'm working, other things pop up or I move things around. Anytime I can reset it back to regular Meg's Workspace or I can go back to the default workspace which is Essentials or I can go to Painting, or Typography, which is great for people who work a lot with type. So this is really how you can customize the way Photoshop works and looks. Going to Preferences, Interface, and looking around here. There are some options within here that I normally don't change. Well, you could. You can change your screen mode, and really create a custom layout this way. You can get rid of the drop shadow that is around the entire Photoshop frame and you can change the way the full screen view looks as well here. But again, for this class, I think that having an essentials works really well for a beginner. The last thing that I like to do a lot for customizing Photoshop is changing my rulers from being inches to pixels. In order to do that, you go to Photoshop, Preferences and then go to [inaudible] yourself in general is fine so that we can look around. These are all your preferences and I would be really careful as to what you change in here because you could mess something up. So, I would just only change things you know what you're dealing with. But for this, I just want to go to Units & Rulers and change the rulers from inches to pixels, and then also I like to change my type from points to pixels. It's up to you which units you prefer. These are just the ones that I like to use for designing for screens and for the Internet, for the Web, and then you can also change other things like your resolution and your columns. Okay, that is it for customizing your Photoshop Workspace. 10. Intro to Creating Actions: Photoshop actions are such a huge time saver. If you find yourself going through the same design process using Photoshop, actions are definitely for you. Together, we'll learn how to record action, save them, and reuse them over and over. You'll thank me later. 11. Creating Actions/Final Project: My last and final favorite thing to do in Photoshop, which is what our project in this class will revolve around, is creating actions. Actions are really great from anything from editing photography to just doing a thing that you do in Photoshop a lot repeatedly. What actions are, they're a way for you to record your actions that you're doing in Photoshop that can be anything. Brushstrokes, cropping, adding filters, adding layer styles, adding blending modes, and recording them and then playing them back again and again and again and saving them so that you can play them back. That may not make much sense to you right now, but I will be showing you how to do that and I'm going to make it a little bit easier for you to understand. Okay. Let's first start out by opening our actions window. So, let's go to Window, Actions. Now, these are our default actions. If we click on this little triangle of dots here, I can make this larger. These are our default actions that are already saved in Photoshop, but we're going to create a new one, okay? So, let's first start out by taking a look at what we're seeing here. We have stop, record, play button as well as a new button and then a group button, and a trash can, of course. You're familiar with these actions, right? Okay. So, I'm going to show you my favorite photo editing action, and I'll show you how I create that action. First, we need to copy our background layer. We do so by dragging this to the new layer and now we have a copy. Then we need to create a new action, so let's do Create New Action. Let's call this "Interior Photography Edit". The last thing we need to do to record our action is to just get going and start recording our actions. So, it is recording now I pressed record. So, let's show you how I edit my interior photographs. Okay. The first step I do is always, I like to do these black and white cookie layer adjustment styles, so I click on the black and white cookie and let's start off by doing some levels. Okay. So, this line here, you see the spike in your levels, that's at the point of where your photo's going to be overexposed, so you never want to bring this point past that arc, but I do like to make my interior photos as bright as they possibly can be without being overexposed. So I'd like to move this right arrow all the way over until it reaches that peak, right about there. Then the other two, I generally like to keep where they are I just like to make it much brighter. So then I will minimize this and move on to the next adjustment layer which is curves. So, you remember this from before, one of our previous classes, this can be pretty finicky and I like to just subtly move the curves around until I get it to a point where I really like it, and again, I really like bright photography for interiors. It's up to you how you like to edit your photos but this is just for showing you how I record my actions. Okay. So, we're still recording as you see over here in our actions window and let's keep going. The next step is for me to add some contrast, so I'll go to Brightness & Contrast and then bump up the contrast so that the darks are a little bit darker and the lights are a little bit lighter. Perfect. Next, I will add a little bit of vibrance, just a touch, a touch of vibrance into the mix and there we go. That is my photo editing repertoire. Those are the steps I always take for editing interior photos and I'm still recording, so at anytime I can stop and it will be good. So, this is the end of my steps. So, I'm going to stop this. Now I have it saved. It's called Interior Photography. I have it saved down here. I can apply this action to anything else I want to in the future. All right. So, I'm going to open up another photo. Let's go File, Open. I'll find my photo over here at my desktop, image two, open that up. Okay. Look. It looks horrible and unedited but I just need to go into my actions, find my Interior Photography action and press play, and now let's watch what happens. Just like that my photo is edited already and look, it applied everything from each of those steps to my photo. So now, what I would normally do is go back in and refine from here, for instance, I would up the contrast just a little bit on this one. To edit these adjustment layers, all you do is click or double-click on the black and white cookie and it brings up the editor for each of them, and it's just so nice to be able to create actions. So, if you find yourself cropping a lot or adjusting the size of something a lot, you will definitely want to use actions. They are such a time saver. So, for your final project, I really just want you to create any kind of action on your own and show me what things look like applied before and after the action. You can figure out on your own how you want to show me that. It can look like mine, the example I gave you on the info front page for the class or it can look like anything you want it to. I just want to see what your actions look like and how you're using them. I can't wait to see what they look like. If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to put it into the class Q and A discussion feed, and I'll try to take a look at those and answer them whenever I can. I'm not technically supposed to answer your questions but I do like to keep an eye on them. If you know the answer to a student's question, please feel free to hop in there and answer the question for them. They will be so thankful for you helping them out. All right. Excited to see your actions everybody. Thank you so much for taking this series of classes and I hope that you continue to enjoy Photoshop in the future. 12. More Creative Classes on Skillshare: