These 5 hidden Photoshop tips and tricks will help speed up your worklfow
I’m a big believer in post workflow efficiency. Whether working with stills or video, one can never seem to get their workflow fast enough. And these days, we all spend far more time at the computer than we’d like. I know I do. I spent countless hours in Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere and other applications getting things just right.
This video, from photographer Jake Hicks shows us 5 great tips to help speed up our own workflow in Photoshop. These are some of Photoshop’s lesser known tips and techniques, that can make a big difference to your workflow.
- 0:42 – Fade Function
- 3:55 – Content Aware
- 11:27 – Mask Stacking
- 16:47 – Multi-Document Layer Dragging
- 22:48 – Accessing Legacy Versions of Photoshop
The fade function is a fantastic feature that Photoshop has had for a very long time. The problem is, it’s not always enabled. It only shows up right after you’ve added a filter to your image. It’s a throwback to the days before we had Smart Objects and Smart Filters, that allows us to dial back the effect of a filter after we’ve applied it. But, it can still very useful today.
You can see above that on the left, the feature is disabled by default until you actually apply a filter. Once you use a filter, it enables to let you pull the effect back. As soon as you do anything else, even something as simple as making a selection, the ability disables again.
The content aware features of Photoshop are a bit Marmite. You either love them or you hate them. Many people hate them simply because they don’t know how to use them effectively or work around their quirks. This is quite a long section of the video (almost 8 minutes), but it’s worth watching all of it to see some common content aware issues and how to get around them.
This is something I do often, and it’s a very simple technique, although seemingly not very well known. It’s one of those things that when you see it, you think “Wow, that’s simple, and obvious, why didn’t I think of that?” (unless you’re one of the ones that did).
Masks are wonderful things, but there isn’t really an “official” way of working with them non-destructively, the way we do with regular layer content. Nesting a layer with a mask inside a group allows you to create a second mask on that group to create composite masks. It sounds a lot more complicated than it actually is, but Jake illustrates the point perfectly.
I use this technique all the time to create composite masks. Usually the layer will have some kind of a luma mask attached, and then the group (which only contains that single layer) will have another mask attached to give me more overall control. You can also use Smart Objects to stack masks, although which method works best is situational. This nesting technique can also be fantastic for layer effects, too.
Multi-Document Layer Dragging
This is another feature that many Photoshop users don’t know exist. It’s extremely handy if you’re editing multiple images from a set and need to apply identical adjustments to all of them. This is another fantastic time saving feature. It’s a whole lot easier than having to manually recreate layers, save and load presets, and all the other long-winded hassle. And, as you can see, it works with entire groups of layers, too.
Legacy Versions of Photoshop
This one is going to largely be a matter of personal preference. But, the fact of the matter is that some of Photoshop’s older tools are far more efficient and useful than their current ones. Jake has recently switched to using Photoshop CS6 as his primary version. It offers features and works in a way that isn’t possible with the latest version of Photoshop CC. And some tasks are just faster and easier to do in the older version.
You’re not limited to just running a single version, either. It seems that you can install both CC and CS6 alongside each other on the same system. So, you can have the best of both worlds.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.