28 Amazing Photoshop CC Tips, Tricks, and Hacks
I often say we're in the golden age of photography right now, given the power of the tools we have at our disposal.
From our cameras and lenses to accessories like camera remotes and tripods to post-processing software like Photoshop CC, there is no shortage of photography supplies that help us all create better, more dynamic photos in one way or another.
From my perspective, it seems like a lot of the attention is gained by the "frontend" gear - cameras, lenses, and so forth. And though there's nothing wrong with that, there's a lot to be said for what a photographer can do with his or her photos in post-processing, assuming they take the time to learn how to use programs like Photoshop.
In this guide, get a step-by-step tour of Photoshop CC from YouTube user Tutvid, which highlights more than two dozens tips, tricks, and hacks that will prove beneficial for you when editing your photos.
Let's get started!
How often do you see a photo of yourself and wish you had whiter teeth?
Photoshop CC makes it easy to get those pearly whites with layer adjustments and vibrance.
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance, and reduce the vibrance to -60.
Then, choose the Vibrance Layer in the Layers Panel, and choose Layer Mask.
Next, press Command/Control I to invert, which fills the layer mask to hide the adjustment made to the Vibrance Layer.
Finally, use the Brush Tool with a small, soft-edged brush set at 50% opacity and paint over the teeth that need whitening.
Merge Layers to a New Layer
More often than not, as I'm working in Photoshop I'll end up with tons and tons of layers. Occasionally, I'll need to merge all those layers into a single layer.
To do that and retain the integrity of the layer structure, press Command/Control + Shift + Alt/Option + E.
With that simple keystroke, all your layers will save and merge, and a new layer will appear. Easy huh?
If you've never used the Rotate View tool, you've been missing out.
When you're working on a photo, it's nice to be able to change the view of the image without flipping it on the horizontal or vertical.
In Photoshop CC, you can do this by clicking and holding the Hand Tool icon in the toolbox, which reveals the Rotate View Tool. You can also press R to access the tool.
Just drag left or right on the screen, and the Rotate View Tool allows you to rotate the image counterclockwise or clockwise for a better view of what you're working on.
When you're done rotating, simply click the Reset View button in the toolbar, and the image will return to normal.
Change Layer Opacity
Yes, there's a Layer Opacity slider in the layers panel, but hotkeys are so much faster...
Photoshop CC has a hotkey to adjust layer opacity, which is found by selecting the Move Tool and pressing a number on the keyboard.
For example, when the Move Tool is selected, press 2 to change the opacity to 20%, 5 to change it to 50%, and so on. Pressing 0 resets opacity to 100%.
If you need to change the Fill Opacity, select the Move Tool, press Shift, and then press any number to adjust opacity as you see fit. If you need to adjust the opacity of a tool, like the paintbrush, simply activate the tool and press whatever numbers you wish on the keyboard.
But what if you want something like 45% opacity? Just press the numbers quickly in succession!
In the Layers Panel, choose a layer.
If you want to select a layer above or below the selection, just press the Alt/Option key and then press the right square bracket on your keyboard to select the layer above.
To select the layer below, press Alt/Option and the left square bracket.
If you want to select a layer and then move it to a new position in the stack, press the Command/Control key with the left square bracket to move it down or the right square bracket to move it upward.
Change the Units of Measure
You might not always want measurements to be in pixels, but how do you quickly change that?
Just ensure that the rulers are engaged by going to View > Rulers, and then right-click anywhere on the ruler.
In the pop-up window, select whatever unit of measure you need.
More Undo Steps
If you make frequent mistakes, maximizing the number of undo steps can be a handy trick...
In fact, Photoshop CC allows you to have up to 1,000 undo steps with this hack!
Just click Command/Control + K to open the preferences panel, and once there, choose Performance from the menu.
Then drag the History States slider to the number you wish. Just bear in mind that the more History States you add, the more likely Photoshop is to slow down.
Pattern Along a Path
Photoshop CC allows you to add a pattern along a path, assuming you know how to activate the feature.
To do so, draw a path using the Pen Tool and press A on your keyboard to get the Direct Selection Tool.
Then, right-click on the path and choose Fill Path.
By setting the contents to Pattern, you can choose a pattern. Then check the Script box, choose Place Along Path, and press OK.
Finally, in the Place Along Path dialog box, manipulate the settings as you wish, and then press OK.
Apply Layer Mask
To add a layer mask, just press the New Layer Mask button in the Layers Panel.
Doing so, however, fills the mask with white. If you want the mask to be filled with black, just hold the Alt/Option key while pressing the new layer mask button.
That allows you to hide the layer that the black mask has been applied to.
Find the Center of the Photoshop File
If you need to know the precise center point of the file you're working on, go to View > New Guide Layout, and click on Columns and Rows.
Select two columns and two rows, with a Gutter value set to 0.
Then choose the Preset menu, and select Save Preset. After it's saved, your new preset will appear in the drop-down menu!
If there's an object in your photo that's got a good color and some sheen to it (i.e. a metal surface), you can easily change the color using Blend Modes.
Create a new layer and paint over the area you want to change. Then change the Blend Mode to Hue or Color.
What you'll find is that the surface you painted now changes to the new Hue or Color you used to paint it.
How to Paint a Selection
Press Q on your keyboard to activate Quick Mask Mode. Then double-click on the Quick Mask icon in the toolbox to open the Quick Mask Options.
Next, choose Selected Areas in the Color Indicates area of the dialog box. Press OK, select the brush tool, and set the foreground color to black.
Paint over the object you wish to transform, and you'll see it painted with red. If you mess up, just press X to switch to white, and you can clean up the edges.
From there, press Q to get out of Quick Mask mode, which changes the painted area to a selection.
Black and White Images With Channel Mixer
The Channel Mixer Adjustment Layer allows you to create high-impact, contrasty black and white images.
To do so, select Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer and select the Monochrome box in the Channel Mixer dialog box.
Manipulate the Green, Blue, and Red sliders as you see fit to get the contrast you want. That's it!
Fill Text, Color, and Shape Layers
If you have text, a solid color adjustment layer, or a shape layer that needs a new color, there's an easy trick to do so.
Just select the layer you wish to change and press Alt/Option + Backspace/Delete.
That sets the layer to the current foreground color.
Scale Layer Styles With Layer
As the size of your layer contents change, you can have your layer styles change as well.
Go to Layer > Layer Style > Scale Effects, and then set the scale to whatever size you need.
Then, use Command/Control + T to free transform the object, setting the width and height to the desired size in the control bar at the top of the screen.
Finally, place the object where you want.
Precise Painting With the Brush Tool
When you need to tackle pinpoint painting, Photoshop CC allows you to add a crosshair in the middle of the brush.
To do so, go to Edit > Preferences, and then select Cursors from the menu. Lastly, choose Show Crosshair Brush Tip and press OK.
This also works well for dodging and burning.
Duplicate Anything You Want
Need an extra of something? Just duplicate it!
Select an object, and drag it while holding Alt/Option to duplicate it. This trick works on just about anything in Photoshop.
Before & After Preview in the Layers Panel
Quickly have a look at the before and after effects of your work right from the layers panel in Photoshop CC.
Just press Alt/Option and click the eyeball of the layer you want to view. Doing so hides all the other layers.
Repeat the process to show all the other layers once again.
This makes it easy if you need to check out the original layer for a quick before and after view of what you've done to the file.
To straighten an image, use the Ruler Tool and drag a line along an area of the photo that should be perfectly level.
Then, in the control bar, click the Straighten Layer button. The resulting image will align to the line you drew.
Using the Crop Tool, simply cut out the transparent areas of the shot, and you've got a perfectly level image.
You can also use the Crop Tool, press Command/Control, and it switches to the Ruler Tool. Then just drag a line across the image, and the image will automatically straighten to that line.
Then just crop the image, and voila! A straightened photo.
Bird's Eye View
When you're zoomed in on an image, if you hold down the H key and drag the mouse, Photoshop will give you a zoomed out view, or a bird's eye view.
This is helpful for getting a quick look at what you're doing without being zoomed so far in.
Clip Image to Type Layer
If you have text on an image and you want to texturize it, you can clip another layer of content to the type layer.
This method works well for adding an adjustment layer to a layer or to restrict a feature to only the pixels of the layer to which it will be clipped.
Just drag an image or texture above the type layer, turn on that layer, and hold Alt/Option as you hover between the texture layer and type layer.
A small icon will appear, which, if you click it, will clip the texture to the shape of the type.
Instagram Fade Effect
Add a fade effect to any image by using a Selective Color Adjustment Layer.
Do so by going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. Then select the Colors drop-down menu, select Neutrals, and set the black slider to a negative value.
Next, access the Blacks submenu and set it to a negative value as well.
Hack the Selection Placement
To be sure a selection is placed precisely where you wish, you can move the selection as you drag it out.
Just use a Marquee tool and hold the spacebar as you drag it out. This lets you move the entire selection wherever you want.
Add Retro Color
If you want to give your photo a retro look, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color.
Then choose whatever color you want and fill the layer.
Next, set the blend mode to Exclusion, then reduce the opacity to about 20%.
If you want to save layers as individual images for use in a later project, simply select the layers you want by pressing Shift and clicking the layers.
Then, once the layers are selected, choose Export As. In the dialog box, you can view individual layers and determine the file format you want to use for saving.
Once you do that, press Export and select the folder in which you want the images to be saved.
Multiple Drop Shadows and Strokes
To add more than one layer style, double-click the layer to open the Layer Styles dialog box.
Next to some of the styles, you should see a "+" symbol. Click on that to add however many styles you want!
Change the Interface Color
To change the color of the Photoshop CC interface, go to Photoshop > Preferences (Edit > Preferences on Windows) and select Interface from the menu on the left.
Then, press Command/Control + Shift + Alt/Option and click whichever color swatch you like to change the colors.
There you have it! Tutvid's 28 best tips, tricks, and hacks for Photoshop CC. Be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel, and give the video a look below: