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Graphic Thoughts: My Top 10 Photoshop Moves, Part 1
Posted Dec 1, 2008 - December 2008 Issue Print Version     Page 1of 1

Almost every time I speak to an audience about graphics or Photoshop, I’m asked if I went to school to learn what I know about the application. The truth is that while I spent more than 3 years in an Advertising Art degree program, I ultimately switched gears and got a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing (Mom and Dad were thrilled with this news!), and that was in the early ’90s—pretty much in the infant stages of Photoshop.

Tip 1: A Shortcut to the ‘Open’ Window Interface
For whatever reason I only recently discovered this trick when I saw someone do this during a presentation I attended. I’m not sure how long it’s been in Photoshop, but based on the “oohs and aahs” I get now when I show it in my own presentations, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one unaware of it.

So here, without further ado, is Tip #1:

Double-click in the gray area of Photoshop to instantly pull up the “Open” window interface.

No need to go to File > Open to open a document; double-clicking does the trick!

Photoshop CS4

Tip 2: A Quicker Way to Select a Layer

Do you ever find that you want to select a layer on your canvas without having to choose the Move tool, or having to implement the auto-select feature? Tip #2 is an easier way to do this:

Hold down your CTRL key (Cmd on a Mac) while clicking a layer on your canvas; that layer will now be selected.

I use this all the time because it’s too cumbersome to always have to search for the layer in my layers palette. Ctrl-clicking is faster!

Photoshop CS4

Tip 3: Horizontally Align an Image
Do you need to rotate an image to make sure it’s perfectly horizontal, but you’re not sure how much to rotate it? Tip #3 makes it easy:

Use the Ruler tool plus the Arbitrary Rotate feature for quick alignment.

Find your Ruler tool (it may be hidden within the Eyedropper tool choice in your Tools palette) and simply click and drag out the ruler along the edge of your layer as if you were measuring along the bottom of the photo, like in my example. Then choose Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary from the File menu—options such as CCW and angle should already be calculated based on your Ruler settings.

Simply click OK, and your image will rotate to a nice, even horizontal level.

Photoshop CS4

Tip 4: Create a Layer From an Image Area
Do you need to duplicate an area of an image quickly onto its own layer? Tip #4 will help:

Simply select the layer using any of your selection tools such as the Magic Wand, the Quick Selection tool, or any of your Lasso tools, and press Ctrl+J (Cmd+J on the Mac).

The area you selected will now automatically get bumped up to a new layer as soon as you press these buttons!

Photoshop CS4

Tip 5: Layer Rotation Made Easy
The keyboard shortcut I use most often and the one I’ve mentioned during every tutorial video or presentation I’ve ever done is for rotating a layer. It’s also Tip #5:

With your layer selected, press Ctrl+T (Cmd+T on the Mac) to engage the corner nodes to rotate your layers.

I probably use this function on almost every single design I do, whether I’m rotating text or layers.

Photoshop CS4

Check back next month when I reveal another five quick tips. And as always, never hesitate to contact me at lance at pixelpops.com if there is a tip or trick you’d like to see highlighted in Graphic Thoughts! Have a Happy New Year!

Lance Gray (lance at pixelpops.com) is the chief creative pixelmonkey at PixelPops Design, LLC. For questions, thoughts, or ideas simply email him.

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