Help me learn Photoshop properly. Challenge level: no video if possible.
June 30, 2015 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I need/want to learn to use Photoshop for various things. I do not learn well from videos and I can't find any courses within 400km of me. I'm good at teaching myself things given the best media fit.

What I'm looking for is a book or books, or a text-and-static-picture-based website, or an online course. I find that videos destroy my ability to pace my own learning and the pause/play dance drives me nuts. If you have recommendations I'd love to hear them. Lynda has been recommended to me several times but I tried the free trial and it was miserable for me. However I really do need to learn to use Photoshop so if videos are necessary I will suck it up.

teal deer: help me learn Photoshop without making me watch videos if at all possible.
posted by Sternmeyer to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
PSD Tuts?
posted by homesickness at 1:55 PM on June 30, 2015

Photoshop Classroom in a Book is an Adobe product, and used copies abound. There are tons of PS books, though.
posted by sageleaf at 2:16 PM on June 30, 2015 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Forgot to mention this and it's my mistake.

I'm not really looking for tutorial sites because while they are neat and show how to do neat things, they don't really teach me the program. They might tell me (for example) to "use the Dodge tool with Midtones Range, Exposure about 30-40%" to do something but I want to learn why I would use that tool and why I would select those settings for it.

I've been learning by task-specific tutorial and it's left a lot of gaps and I want a more complete understanding of the program itself. Basically when I want or need to do a thing in Photoshop, I don't want to google a specific tutorial, I want to have the basic knowledge needed to at least get a running start at it myself.
posted by Sternmeyer at 2:16 PM on June 30, 2015

Look online for Photoshop instructors who can tutor you online or in person?
posted by canine epigram at 2:47 PM on June 30, 2015

Photoshop is used for a lot of different things from graphic design to forensic photography, medical imaging, and photo retouching. Are you interested in learning any skill in particular or do you just want a broad, general knowledge of the program? I ask because the books I'd recommend would vary depending on what you wish to learn.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 2:48 PM on June 30, 2015

Definitely the Adobe Classroom in a Book series; it's how I taught myself Photoshop 2.5. Each lesson builds on skills learned in the previous lessons, and it does a good job of explaining why you're doing what you're doing.

Also, the manual is really good at easily-understandable-yet-in-depth explanations of each tool's parameters and functions.
posted by culfinglin at 2:55 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've used a prior version of Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers with some success, although I prefer Lightroom for most of my editing.

It's difficult to pinpoint a helpful learning aide without knowing what you're trying to accomplish in Photoshop. It is used for a ridiculous number of things, and many of them are nearly unrelated. That's also why you are only finding task specific tutorials.
posted by builderofscience at 3:34 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

It would really help to know what, exactly, you want to do with Photoshop. There are so many functions in the thing, and, depending on what you want to do, you may never use many or most of them.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:46 PM on June 30, 2015

Response by poster: It looks to be mostly image retouching and some compositing. Won't be using it for text or web design or anything.
posted by Sternmeyer at 4:07 PM on June 30, 2015

My advice: mess around as often and as hard as you can.

What do you want to do? Retouch photos? Open one, start messing around with the clone, push and dodge tools. Start messing around with adjustments and adjustment layers. clone layers, and play around blending effects. Then, once you're familiar with the tools (ie, know what they do) start making some goals: rotate a photo. Paint the sky red. Remove a pole from an otherwise perfect picture of trees. Remove dandruff from a photo. Go the full Stalin on a photo and erase someone from a group picture. Do a reverse Stalin and add someone to a group, and learn how to adjust colors, saturation/contrast/vibrancy to make it more seamless, then use filters to compensate for sampling differences.

Play around and experiment. This is how I've learned to mess around Paint Shop Pro 7 (easier because it was a simpler program, but this was at a time you either knew where to look for solutions, or came up with them yourself) a buttload of years ago.

And if you're stuck at something, google that problem. Odds are someone already had that problem, asked in a forum and got a few replies. A couple of weeks ago got help from a 10 year old reply, long before people were used to do a three minute video explaining something that takes as much as two complete sentences to explain.
posted by lmfsilva at 4:27 PM on June 30, 2015

Yeah, I'm seconding lmfsilva's advice. I became proficient in Photoshop just by spending a bunch of time playing around in it, and googling for answers to anything I didn't know how to do.

While you're still learning, make sure you save frequently, and make sure you have enough undos. In fact, it's probably a good idea to get really familiar with the history panel early on. Those are some things which would have saved me a fair bit of irritation while I was still messing around.
posted by Quilford at 4:47 PM on June 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

2nding and Nthing what canine epigram said: "find Photoshop instructors who can tutor you online or in person".

When I was 13yo I sat down in front of a dumb greenscreen terminal and a kid just a few years older than me showed me how to press 'Enter' and so forth.

42 years later, I find it is still one of the most effective ways to learn certain kinds of things (especially software packages). It's not like you have to spend hours with another person: it's something of an embarrassing story, but my real breakthrough moment with Photoshop was when some large unwashed sysadmin guy at a computer store decided to take 15 minutes to show me his awesome Photoshop skills. I got a sense of just how people use the tool and that was all it took for me to go off and running on my own. I've been using Photoshop professionally since Big Electric Cat.

So: do you have Photoshop on a notebook machine? Post an ad to Craigslist searching for someone to give you a simple, fast tutorial. Meet at a coffeeshop and go. Frankly, if you were in Austin, I'd do this for you for a couple of fancy-pants coffee drinks.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:20 PM on June 30, 2015

The definitive authority on Photoshop retouching and compositing is Katrin Eismann. While I wholeheartedly recommend experimenting and playing around with the program on your own, there are some things where you'd flat out make better use of your time learning from a virtuoso like Katrin. Her books Photoshop Masking And Compositing and Photoshop Restoration And Retouching have stood the test of time and will catapult you into the league of proficient Photoshop users if you can master the techniques within.

You might also like the Retouch Pro forum; they're a friendly bunch and very welcoming and helpful to newcomers. The Photoshop Scripting Community is also a good place to ask questions and learn.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:48 PM on June 30, 2015

« Older Good recipe for a salad with pickled/marinated...   |   Where in the world should we go next? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.