Photoshop Basics

Photoshop can be a scary beast the first time that you open it; there are over 40 buttons on the screen with lots with cryptic symbols that are hard to understand. I know your pain as a beginner!

Photoshop covers everything from 3D printing to video editing. That’s all well and good but what if you are new to the program and you just want to make your photos look great? Well, you are in the right place!

I will take you through steps showing you how Photoshop works and then I am going to show you how you can edit your photos to make sure they pop off the screen!


The first thing to know about Photoshop is that what is displayed is shown in layers.  The best way to explain these is that it’s like layers of transparent acetate over one another, the top layer will mask over the layer beneath it, but if there is nothing on the top layer, it will show what’s beneath it. Take a look at my images below to get more of an idea of what is going on!

As you can see we have a smiley face on layer 1.


Photoshop basics - layer 1 of the image
Layer 1 of the image in photoshop basics



On Layer 2 we have the outline of the fellow’s head.


Photoshop basics - layer 2 of the image
Layer 2 of the image in photoshop basics


Layer 2 sits over layer 1.  For an example, take a look at the layers from a side on view –


Photoshop Basics - angled view of the image layers
Angled view of the image layers in photoshop basics


These 2 layers make an image as below:


Photoshop Basics - combining the two layers gives us the final image
The final image as a result of combining the two layers – photoshop basics


Simple, huh?  Layers are one of the underlying principles behind Photoshop and if you know this you really can’t go wrong!  If you reset your view in Photoshop, by going to window > workspace > essentials you can find the layers tab in the bottom right of the screen.

So now in this article I am going to show you how to use the layers to make any photo look better!  The other great thing about this way of working is that it is non-destructive, so all you have to do is remove the extra layer that you have put on to go back to the original.

Taking a quick look at the layers panel we can do some funky things just from this area.  We are going to focus on the adjustment layers section in this article.


Photoshop basics - adjustment layer section in layers panel menu
The adjustment layer section in the layer panel menu – photoshop basics


Let’s get an image to edit:


Photoshop basics - original unedited image
Original image before being edited – photoshop basics


As you can see it’s a bit faded and the colours are bland, let’s see what we can do about that!  We will begin by making the blacks black and the whites white. Go to Create a new fill layer, as seen above with the red arrow and click on levels.  You will then add an adjustment layer and then you can change the levels of black and white in the image by moving the sliders in adjustments.

Photoshop basics - using the adjustment layer to enhance the image
Using the adjustment layer to enhance the image in photoshop basics



Straight away that looks a lot better!  The great thing is if you want to change the levels at any point, just click on the adjustment layer and you will be able to change it again!  Now let’s add some more colour.  Click the adjustment button again and go to Hue / Saturation and play with the settings again!

Photoshop basics - enhanced image after adjusting the layers and colours
Enhanced image after adjusting the layers and colours – photoshop basics



And pow!  It’s that simple to adjust your images to make the vibrancy and colour look professional. Why not have a play with the other adjustment layers and see what you can do in these settings? Remember, all you have to do is turn the layer off if you don’t like it, or click on the delete layer button!


So I hope this article has been useful to you.  You should now be able to use the basics of the layers area of Photoshop and set the levels and colour of a photo.

Get in touch with the experts at Media Heroes and we can take you through the wonders of photoshop and of course any other help you need with your digital marketing.