Photoshop tips

Hey guys

We used to have a thread on a previous iteration of Polycount where people shared little hidden or hard to find tricks for working with Photoshop. I learned so much from that back then, I thought I'd resurrect it. To share the old information again, but also to see if anything new shows up!

Some tips that were shared back then that I can remember:
-How to change the colour of Photoshop's background, which has now been simplified to just rightclicking on it.
-You can click-drag on the layer visibility icons to toggle multiple ones at once.
BL_outliner_eyes.gif

One I just discovered is when you're dragging something and hit the sides of the screen and it scrolls, you can hold shift to go faster. I believe the fast behaviour used to be standard (and ridiculously annoying), so I'm glad to see this new behaviour. It makes working zoomed in a lot easier.

Replies

  • Michael Knubben
    Another one I use a lot in cs6 (the improved vector tools are getting a lot of use!) is to hotkey the pixel snapping option for shape layers. It was taken out of the top bar, but you can create an action to toggle it on and off in the preferences (General > 'Snap Vector Tools and Transforms to Pixel Grid'). I've set mine to F11 and F12.
    Should prove handy for those of us who do UI work.
  • JohnnyRaptor
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    JohnnyRaptor polycounter lvl 8
    great idea,

    alt clicking on the eye next to a layer hides everything else and only shows that specific layer, alt clicking on it again, unhides everything back to exactly what it was before (leaving hidden layers etc unchanged). similar to an isolate action in a 3d app.

    but be careful not to start hiding/unhiding layers when in "isolation" mode, since this will break the memory and you wont be able to restore it by alt clicking the eye again.
  • WarrenM
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    WarrenM Polycount Sponsor
    I learned the other day you can:

    - alt+click between 2 layers to set up a clipping mask between the,

    - You can alt+click+drag a mask to another layer and it copy that mask to that layer. Alternately, if you drag on top of another mask, the dragged mask will replace it.
  • Treboras
    Brush size: Pressing and holding "alt" + "right mouse button" and then moving the mouse changes the brush size more visually and faster. (only if a brush tool is active like eraser, brush, pencil etc.)

    Layer visibility: Alt-clicking on the visibility symbol on a layer gives you visibility only on this layer. Be careful: When in "alt-click mode" if you don't toggle back this by alt-clicking again, and change the visibility of layers, they stay this way. If you go back with alt-click, Photoshop remembers the visibility as it was before the soloing and restores it to each layer.
  • Z3NZY
    You can save all your screenshots really quickly if use the script in PS.
    It saves all your layers as separate images. Can be set for only the visible layers as well.
    t3m08.jpg
  • Autarkis
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    Autarkis polygon
    WarrenM wrote: »
    - You can alt+click+drag a mask to another layer and it copy that mask to that layer. Alternately, if you drag on top of another mask, the dragged mask will replace it.

    That's just pure gold. No more copy/paste alpha channels to new layers :)
  • Adam L. Gray
    I discovered nearly all of these by pure accidental clicking dragging and hitting keys on the keyboard.. lol, I should take it a bit easy.

    As for the alt click and clipping mask though, that's rather the layer only affecting the underlying one, no? Which at that can be done in succession. Say you have a hue modifier and one contrast etc. underneath, followed by a layer.. Alt-clicking between the first two, followed by the second and the third will link them down so that they only affect the third layer and nothing else.

    /edit: nvm! Apparently that's referred to as a clipping mask indeed.
  • gavku
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    gavku polycounter lvl 11
    Until yesterday I never realised that you could increase the number of undo states...
    Edit > Preferences > General > Performance > History States
  • Equanim
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    Equanim polycounter lvl 5
    If you have a PSD with a huge file size, you can increase performance by creating a white fill as the top layer before you save it. This makes the preview image for the PSD into a white box which makes it easier on Bridge and allows the PSD to load faster next time you open it. I've also seen it reduce the file size by around 30 mb. Weird trick, but it works.
  • pinkbox
    I used to make a blank layer at the top and go Image>apply image, but this is way faster -
    ctrl+alt+shift+e on a blank layer to make a combined flat image of all visible layers
  • Kot_Leopold
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    Kot_Leopold polycounter lvl 5
    gavku wrote: »
    Until yesterday I never realised that you could increase the number of undo states...
    Edit > Preferences > General > Performance > History States
    Never knew you could do that until just now, thanks man! This will save me from a lot of unnecessary headache :)
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 9
    pinkbox wrote: »
    I used to make a blank layer at the top and go Image>apply image, but this is way faster -
    ctrl+alt+shift+e on a blank layer to make a combined flat image of all visible layers

    Thanks for this.. I was using an action that duplicated the BG layer, selected all layers, grouped them, duplicated the grouped layers and merged the duplicate group. >_>
  • Froyok
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    Froyok Polycount Sponsor
    Minor thing but I use it everyday and it seems nobody said it already : when dragging a layer from one file to one another, drag with shift, this way the layer dragged will be centered in the destination file.

    Pretty useful when Snap is disabled and you want to combine an AO, Nomral map and so one...
  • fatihG_
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    fatihG_ polycounter lvl 9
    Iirc it also centers to a selection.
  • Michael Knubben
    Unless I'm missing something, you could also just ctrl-shift-c and ctrl-shift-v to copy merged and paste. That's what I do if I want to copy all the underlying visible layers into a new one.
  • poopinmymouth
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    poopinmymouth quad damage
    You can drag the origin of a marquee selection or line by holding down space before releasing the mouse click.

    You can find an exact rotational angle by dragging the measure tool along a line (say brick morter) and then going to image, rotate, arbitrary. It will fill in the exact degree for you.
  • poopinmymouth
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    poopinmymouth quad damage
    Oh and one I did not know till recently. If you paste a huge image into a tiny texture, and hit Ctrl+T to transform, alt clicking will place the center point below the cursor, so you can now alt+shift drag the corner to get it to scale down without having to zoom way out first.
  • Nosslak
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    Nosslak polycounter lvl 9
    Froyok wrote: »
    Minor thing but I use it everyday and it seems nobody said it already : when dragging a layer from one file to one another, drag with shift, this way the layer dragged will be centered in the destination file.

    Pretty useful when Snap is disabled and you want to combine an AO, Nomral map and so one...
    I've got an even better solution for that called Load Files Into Stack (File->Scripts). Just open all your baked maps and all other fancy stuff you want to combine and hit Load Files Into Stack and Add Open Files and you'll get all the (saved) open files laid on top of each other in a new document with layers named after the file. It's super handy!
  • gideon_klindt
    Alt+click on a layer makes it so that it only effects (affects?) the layer directly underneath it. This is great for things like curves, levels, exposure etc. and lots of other effects.
  • imbueFX
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    imbueFX polycounter lvl 5
    "ctrl+alt+2" will create a selection based on brightness values.

    So friggin' useful!
  • Minato
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    Minato polycounter lvl 4
    Nice... lets see...

    -You can ctrl+alt+t a layer or selection to transform it and then ctrl+alt+shift+t to repeat the transform multiple times, comes in handy sometimes...

    -If you have a really messy layer stack and you want to hide some layers here and there one way(instead of looking for them in the stack) is to select the move tool, tick the 'Auto-Select' box, click and/or marque drag a selection in the canvas to select the layers visually and the go to the 'Layer' tab in the main menu and select 'Hide Layers'...(The option then turns to 'Show Layers')...

    -One of the oldest trick in the book for quickly sharpening images is to duplicate your merged stack, go to the Filter tab>Other>High Pass, select a very small value in the dialog, usually 1~3(this depends on your image size) and then change the layer's blending mode to overlay(or soft light for a more subtle effect) and adjust the opacity of the layer to your taste...
  • SlyRipper
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    SlyRipper polycounter lvl 4
    Froyok wrote: »
    Minor thing but I use it everyday and it seems nobody said it already : when dragging a layer from one file to one another, drag with shift, this way the layer dragged will be centered in the destination file.

    Pretty useful when Snap is disabled and you want to combine an AO, Nomral map and so one...

    I believe it's not just the center, but it saves the origin placement. When you want to copy just a part of another picture to your workfile then it's hard to place it at the correct position. With holding shift it will be placed at the same position as it's in the origin file.

    Another small Feature (that most might know) is Alt+F to use the last applied Filter and Alt+Ctrl+F to open the last applied filter, so you can edit the values before re-applying it.

    Ctrl+Shift+I inverts the selection. Holding Alt while clicking on the layer visible icon will hide all other layers except the one you clicked at. You can unhide the others by doing the same step again.
  • gideon_klindt
    These are kind of general, but hey why not?!

    1-0 top row keys will alter brush opacity- clicking them twice will get a double digit change (so 6 key pressed twice is 66% vs 60%).

    Bracket keys [ and ] make your brush slightly smaller and larger (works with several tools).

    "dab/click" one with the brush or eraser, then holding shift click another area to draw a straight line. Keep holding down shift to draw consecutive, connected straight lines. Good for simulating highlights for edge bevels when used on an additive layer mode layer IMHO.
  • gideon_klindt
    Minato wrote: »
    Nice... lets see...

    -You can ctrl+alt+t a layer or selection to transform it and then ctrl+alt+shift+t to repeat the transform multiple times, comes in handy sometimes...

    This is easy to do in AI, and I always wondered how to do it in PS- thanks for the tip.
  • SanderDL
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    SanderDL polycounter lvl 7
    if you select all, then press CTRL+SHIFT+C. You can copy the entire document into one layer.
  • Minato
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    Minato polycounter lvl 4
    This is easy to do in AI, and I always wondered how to do it in PS- thanks for the tip.

    Yes it is, AI's cloning/array functions are on a different level, pity they refuse to implement at least some of them into PS...

    Speaking of Brackets, you can navigate and rearrange your layer stack using them:

    -alt+[ or ] to move up and down in the stack, add shift to that to select layers in your way

    -ctrl+[ or ] to rearrange your layers , add shift to jump your layer to the top or the bottom of the stack (this is the most useful of them all, imo)

    -also you can ctrl+alt+a to select all the layers in the stack (pretty useful)
  • mediochrea
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    mediochrea polycounter lvl 5
    pinkbox wrote: »
    I used to make a blank layer at the top and go Image>apply image, but this is way faster -
    ctrl+alt+shift+e on a blank layer to make a combined flat image of all visible layers

    You don't even need to create an empty layer, it'll put the flattened image on a new layer above the one you're currently on!
  • gideon_klindt
    OK, this one is kind of general and long winded, but it took me a while to figure out. Would be happy to know of a better way for sure!

    When importing hard edge graphics such as a vector file into PS, don't use the import dialog to resize smaller and import the file. This will use PS normal default sampling AFAIK, and result in a blurry image. It's often better to import it at a high resolution, and then inside photoshop downsize it using Image->Image Size- then under resampling, selecting either Nearest Neighbor or Bicubic Sharper (sometimes another method).

    If the graphic contains easily isolated elements that are hard edge and soft, or small and large pixel areas, it is often worth while to import it twice with different sampling settings, then copy one version on top of the other, and then mask out the area that the sample is best for that area of the graphic.

    This can be handy for if you're using files like this to make brushes, graphics that will go on low res products like items that might line a shelf, graffiti, or any other image that might be lower res but require hard, to semi hard edges. The larger the down size difference (like a 4k-128 ) the effectiveness is more pronounced, and can mean less manual clean up.

    *Minato*

    Yeah, do find it frustrating that it takes adobe something like 15 years to cross cross pollinate some obvious features. I understand they want people to buy 3+ apps instead of one, but I agree that programs like illustrator and PS serve enough of a different purpose that things like cloning should be in both and just as robust.
  • Shrike
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    Shrike polycounter lvl 4
    You can Move and resize selections under Select>Transform Selection

    You can do text Kerning between letters while pressing alt+arrow keys

    Refine Selection is amazing and should be known, also you can refine masks without having a selection under Selection>Refine mask
  • Bartalon
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    Bartalon polycounter lvl 5
    I use Ctrl+1 and Ctrl+0 to zoom to 100% and "fit on screen" respectively.

    Also if you are using CS6, if you go to the Workspace dropdown at the top right of the window and switch from Essentials to New in CS6, all the menu items will be colored to indicate a new addition or change to that tool.

    Speaking of colors, you can color any menu item you want for quick identification (as well as hide the ones you never use!) in the Edit > Menus... window.
  • BARDLER
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    BARDLER polycounter lvl 6
    I am wondering if anybody has or uses any custom filters for photoshop that are helpful?
  • cupsster
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    cupsster polycounter lvl 7
    For sure, Flaming Pear filters are useful. Solidyfy for texture work and mipmap edge beleeding the most. Use them daily. Recomended.
  • Cheathem
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    Cheathem polycounter lvl 5
    HighPass is a great built in filter,lets you remove obvious lighting from textures.And overlaying a Highpass filtered image ontop of the original will make it look like and high dynamic range image.Play around with it if you havnt already :D
  • glynnsmith
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    glynnsmith polycounter lvl 10
    One I use all the time:

    Whilst using the Move (V) tool, change your selection mode in the top bar from "Group" to "Layer", then use CTRL + LMB on your canvas to select any layer underneath your cursor*.

    Use Shift + CTRL + LMB to add/remove a layer to your layer selection.

    Now you have the speed benefits of Auto-Select, without the weird behaviour of Auto-Select.

    Also, RMB only for a list.

    *It will select semi-transparent layers, too.
  • Michael Knubben
    Cheathem: Instead of overlaying a highpass filtered image, try the Smart Sharpen filter. From what I can tell it does exactly that (which is how I always sharpened my textures), but very tweakable. It's great for everything from subtle sharpening images to adding local contrast.
  • Justin Meisse
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    Justin Meisse polycounter lvl 12
    Adobe has a plug in pack called Optional Plugins (that's the CS5 version, search for the appropriate version)

    It adds a filter to filter>other called HSB/HSL. If you run it with RGB as the Input Mode and HSB as the Row Order it will comvert your image's RGB channels into Hue Saturation and Brightness channels. You can use these greyscale images as masks, try out the saturation mask on a gradient map adjustment layer.
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