Learn The Basics Of Photoshop In Under 25 Minutes

Learn The Basics Of Photoshop In Under 25 Minutes

Photoshop is an incredibly powerful but also intimidating application. If you’ve wanted to start using Photoshop but didn’t know where to start, we’ll be teaching you the basics all week long.

The video above is your lesson. It’s short considering how much it covers and long considering it’s on the internet. In the video, we take a look at every tool in the toolbar, your palettes on the right side of the screen, and what you’ll find in the menus. Below you’ll find a reference for this lesson. Once the lessons are over, we’ll provide everything all in one place and a downloadable PDF file containing references for each lesson.

Wait! I don’t have Photoshop!
Are you not currently a Photoshop user? Adobe offers a Photoshop 30-day trial that you can download right now and it will provide you with plenty of time to learn how it works. If you don’t want to eventually purchase Photoshop because it’s too expensive, much of what we’re going to discuss in these lessons will apply to not just to Photoshop but pretty much most of the standard photo-editing and design tools you’ll find (Pixelmator is a great $US30 alternative on the Mac, and GIMP is a free, open-source cross-platform option). We’ve chosen Photoshop because it’s the most commonly used, but you’re welcome to follow along using other software as well. Today’s lesson is pretty Photoshop-specific, but as we move along you should be able to use other software to do most of what we discuss.

Ready? Let’s get started.

The Toolbar

We’re not going to take a look at every single tool but we are going to look at almost every one of them. While this overview will give you an idea of what each tool does, go find yourself a photo and start playing around with them.

Move Tool (Keyboard: V)

Marquee (Keyboard: M)

Lasso (Keyboard: L)

Magic Wand (Keyboard: W)

Crop Tool (Keyboard: C)

Eyedropper (Keyboard: I)

Healing Brush (Keyboard: J)

Paintbrush and Pencil (Keyboard: B)

Clone Stamp (Keyboard: S)

History Brush (Keyboard: Y)

Eraser Tool (Keyboard: E)

Paint Can and Gradient Tools (Keyboard: G)

Blur, Sharpen and Smudge Tools (Keyboard: None)

Burn, Dodge and Sponge Tools (Keyboard: O)

Pen Tool (Keyboard: P)
vector graphics

Type Tool (Keyboard: T)

Path Tool (Keyboard: A)

Shape Tool (Keyboard: U)

3D Tools
this video

Hand Tool (Keyboard: H)

Zoom Tool (Keyboard: Z)

Colour Selection Tools (Keyboard: D for defaults, X to switch foreground and background colours)


Palettes are the things that you see sitting over on the right side of your screen. They make it easy for you to navigate through your document, add adjustments, switch modes, and other things.

blending modes


Colour Channels

Colour Picker

Colour Swatches




File, as usual, handles opening, saving, and closing operations. Towards the end of these lessons we’ll be taking a look at your different saving options (namely Save for Web).

Edit, as usual, brings you copy, cut, and paste. In Photoshop, it’s also where you transform layers and set your colour spaces.

Image brings you canvas and image adjustments, including destructive effects that you’ll also find in your adjustments palette. Options in this menu are designed to affect the image as a whole, although many adjustments are applied to only a single layer.

Layer lets you do all of the things you can do in the layer palette with a few more options. This menu also lets you create adjustment layers and smart objects (a group of layers treated as a single object).

While the marquee and lasso tools will be your main means of selecting things, the select menu can help you refine that selection or create entirely new selections based on certain criteria (such as colour range and luminosity).

Filter brings you a wealth of built-in (and, if installed, third-party) Photoshop filters that can blur, sharpen, distort and alter your image (or layers of the image) in many different and unique ways. The best way to get acquainted with these filters is to try them all. That can take a little time, but it’s fun to play around with them and see what they do. We’ll be getting into the specifics in subsequent lessons, but only looking at a few commonly useful filters.

Analysis provides you with measurement tools. There will be times when you need them to make accurate alterations to your images. We will not be covering anything in this menu in these basic lessons.

As previously noted, we’re not covering 3D. If you decide to learn more about 3D later, you may want to explore this menu on your own at some point.

View provides you with various view options, lets you hide and show line guides you’ve created (see video for an example), and make Photoshop snap (or not snap) to corners, edges, and to the grid on the canvas. Viewing of this invisible grid can also be turned on and off in the View menu.

Window lets you hide and show certain windows and palettes. You can also arrange your Photoshop windows and palettes however you want and save them as a window preset.

That’s all for today! In the next lesson we’ll be learning about colour correction, touch-ups and photo enhancement.