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Photoshop Basics

Want to know how to edit images? This guide shows you resources and steps in editing images from cropping to color adjustments.

About Adobe Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a comprehensive photo editing software that allows you to edit images, add effects and prepare images for both print and web media. Adobe Photoshop has become the industry standard for image editing. This research guide will enable you to learn basic editing tools and effects that will allow you to know how to prepare images for print and the web and give you the opportunity to learn other editing features.

Downloads and institutional purchasing options for Adobe Creative Cloud can be found in the Virtual Software Lab.

This research guide covers tips and instructions on performing the following:


  • Fun Places for Adobe Photoshop: Tutorials on applying effects to images
  • Book Recommendations
  • Adobe Photoshop Rules to Live by
  • Related Research Guides


Document Setup:

  • Document setup using both the Image Size and Canvas Size menu
  • Altering document setup using both the Image Size and Canvas Size menu
  • Changing resolution
  • Change pixel height and width
  • Defining color modes and changing modes to fit your needs
  • Definition of and saving to different file types



  • Adding layers
  • Grouping layers
  • Adding a layer mask
  • Merging layers
  • Using transparency
  • Using gradients


Everything Else:

  • History menu
  • Using transparency
  • Cropping
  • Using gradients
  • Adjusting color
  • Clipping paths
  • Flattening an image
  • Inserting text
  • Using filters


Click on the Document Setup & Resolution, Layers and Everything Else tabs for instructions on editing images.

Adobe Photoshop Rules to Live by

Below are some quick tips and rules to live by when using Adobe Photoshop:

  • Know the difference between saving for print and saving for the web
  • Know the difference between a .psd, .tiff and a .jpg.: .psds and .tiffs save layers, .jpgs don't
  • Never flatten your original .psd file: Save your original version with layers so you don't lose all the work you have done and a flattened version for printing or the web  (i.e. save a .psd and a .jpg)
  • Layers are your friend: Name them, group them, get rid of layers you don't need and keep those you do
  • Never stretch your image or text: alter size proportionally
  • Adobe Photoshop is best suited for photos, Adobe Illustrator and InDesign are best suited for text. Only use text layers when you have to (i.e. web files) or when you need to create effects that are only available in Photoshop.
  • Save your files in the same location so you don't go on a scavenger hunt
  • Think ethically. In other words, editing photos to look better is okay, editing images to alter fact is not.
  • Use images that are owned by you or you have permission to use (i.e. royalty-free, stock photography)
  • Proofread: If your image contains text, do a spelling and grammar check. Nothing is more embarassing than showing your hard work and it having a spelling error.
  • Keep it simple: Using more effects does not mean the photo will look better
  • Be open to learning new things