10 Photoshop Skills You Need to Know

There are tons of things you can do in Photoshop to edit and create incredible images. Some techniques are fairly complex and require a good understanding of the software, but there are a lot of easy things you can do and still get professional results. Here are 10 lesser known, but simple Photoshop features from tutvid that will seriously boost your skills:

1. Face Tool in Liquify

This is a new tool used for liquifying facial features. First, right-click on the layer to convert to smart object. Then go to Filter > Liquify.

Here, you can adjust features. For example, you can resize eyes; by selecting one eye and adjusting the size, the tool will automatically resize both eyes. You can make them wider, narrower, pull them up to make them bulge, whatever you want to do. This goes for any facial feature you select; make the nose bigger or smaller, adjust the jawline, forehead size, lips and smile, etc.

facial liquify tool

On the right, you’ll see Face-Aware Liquify tools, where you can choose whether you want to work on Face One or Face Two and use the sliders to adjust what you want. Once you’re happy with the result, hit OK to commit. You can also go back to Filter > Liquify and apply a second facial liquify.

2. Color LUTs

If you have created lots of adjustment layers, color lookup tables (LUTs) will essentially allow you to mesh all of those color or adjustment layers into one. You can apply it to another image without having to select all the adjustment layers and copy it over.

Go to File > Export > Color Lookup Tables. You’ll probably get an error here that says the document has no background, but that’s ok. Just select the layer you want to be your background, then go to Layer > New > Background From Layer to set a locked background layer. From File > Export > Color Lookup Tables, enter a description (djk grading is used in this example). Select grid points—medium and high both work really well. Select grid points (CUBE is used here). Then hit OK and give it a file name and save location.

Go to the next photo you’d like to edit. You should be working with RAW files since the color and tonal adjustments can be quite big. If you have, say a 16-bit image, you’ll get better results and smoother color transitions.

color luts photoshop

Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Lookup. You’ll see a new color lookup table adjustment layer. Under 3DLUT file, there are different presets that you can use. You also have Load 3DLUT, where you’ll find your saved settings that will apply all your adjustment layers.

3. Creating the Perfect Selection

This is a quick one but very useful. When you’re creating a a selection in Photoshop, you’re not always going to place it in the exact spot it needs to be so you can hold down the spacebar and move the selection before you commit.

free transform selection photoshop

After you’ve placed it, you can still move it if you decide it’s still not quite right. Right click on the selection and choose Transform Selection to get different transform options, like Perspective or Rotate. Now you can scale it or stretch it out to select where you want.

4. Frequency Separation

This is a great non-destructive technique to go in and do highly detailed skin retouching.

Select the image you want to retouch and duplicate the background layer [cmd/ctrl + J] twice. Name the top layer “hi-freq” and the next layer “lo-freq”. Turn off the high-frequency layer and select the low-frequency layer—this is where you want to preserve the colors of the image. Basically, you’re going to try to split the colors of the image from the details of the image.

To preserve the color, blur the image by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Usually, something like 15 pixels is great to soften the details and preserve all the color.

Next, turn on the high-frequency layer and select it. Go to Image > Apply Image. Here, you want to apply your high frequency layer to the low-frequency layer, so select that fro the Layer drop-down menu. A few other settings that will always almost be exactly what you need:

  • Channel: RGB is good
  • Blending: Subtract
  • Opacity: 100%
  • Scale: 2
  • Offset: 128

photoshop frequency separation tool

Set the Blend mode to Linear Light to get an image that is almost exactly like the original, but the advantage is that you can edit the details of the image without affecting the color. Now, you can start retouching. Make sure you’re on the high-frequency layer.

To fix colors, switch over to the low-frequency layer. The Healing Brush tends to leave a trail, so the Clone Stamp tool set to an opacity of 50 or 60 is probably you’re best bet for fixing skin tones. Make the brush smaller to really do a good job.

5. Calculations to Select Hair

Choose your photo and go to Images – Calculations. You want the subject’s hair to appear white, so in the Calculations box, check the boxes to invert both channels.

calculations tool photoshop

Then change the different channel colors to see what gives you the most contrast. Output to a new channel, so at the bottom, make sure Result says New Channel. Next, bring up Levels and boost all the blacks and whites.

Set your foreground color to white and use the Lasso tool to make a selection around the interior of the model and fill it with white [alt/opt + backspace/delete].

select hair photoshop

Select the Brush tool and set the mode to either Overlay or Soft Light. Paint with white over the edges of the subject’s hair to intensify the white. Then set the Brush tool mode back to Normal, switch your foreground color to black and paint around the background. Set the mode back to Soft Light and zoom in to paint around the outer edge of the hair.

Invert the channel [cmd/ctrl + I] and turn on the RGB composite layer, turn off the Alpha channel. On the RGB composite layer, go back to the Layers tab and add a Layers Mask. You can continue to paint over the hair to bring back more edge detail.

6. Selective Sharpening

Say you have a bunch of layers, you can merge them all together [cmd/ctrl + shift + opt/alt + E] to create one sharpening layer. Double click on the Quick Mask mode and check Selected Areas and paint with black where you want to apply fine sharpening.

photoshop selective sharpening

Hit the letter Q to save the selection. Then go to Select > Modify > Feather and give it around a 250 pixel feather. Hit cmd/ctrl + J to grab the selections and create a new layer. In the new layer, go to Filter > Other > High Pass to apply a high pass adjustment. Change the Blend mode of the layer to Overlay to apply sharpening to your selected areas. If you want to apply more sharpening, just go back to the first sharpening layer and do it again.

7. Color Range in a Mask

This is a great tool to use if you want to change all of one color in a photo to a different color. Select the Mask on an adjustment layer and in the Layer Mask Properties panel, select Color Range. Now, select any area of the photo that you want to constrain the color to.

change color range photoshop

Then you can paint with black over areas in the Mask layer that you don’t want the color to be applied to and paint with white where you want the color switch to take place.

8. Curves

Create a Curves adjustment layer for your photo. The way curves works is that when you pull up on the line on the graph, you add light to the image; when you pull down, you reduce light.

When you click on a point on the line, you add a point. Just drag the point away to get rid of it. You can create adjustment points on the histogram to change the contrast of different parts of your image.

adjusting curves photoshop

You can also adjust color channels throughout the picture. Curves is a very powerful way to quickly edit and adjust the contrast, tone, and color in your photos.

9. Adjustment Layers and Blend Modes

Don’t forget to pair adjustment layers with blend modes. You can do something like a Channel Mixer adjustment layer; click on Monochrome in the Layers Properties tab and adjust the sliders and set the Blend mode to Multiply. Reduce and adjust the opacity until it looks good. This will give you a moody, muted effect.

adjustment layers blend modes

You can also add a Levels or Curves adjustment layer and set the Blend mode to Soft Light. This is a quick way to increase the contrast of your image.

You can change colors of objects, and many other nifty little tricks here.

10. Camera Raw + Temp/Tint & Dehaze

Using dehaze with the Camera Raw Filter can introduce contrast in an interesting way. Right click on your layer and select Convert to Smart Object. Go to Filter – Camera Raw Filter and you can adjust the Temperature and Tint sliders in the dialogue box.

Adjust the Dehaze slider to really boost up contrast. You can also adjust sharpening in Camera Raw.

camera raw filter photoshop

These are 10 of many amazingly useful and convenient tools in Photoshop. There are a lot of other tips and tricks, and a few more are even mentioned in the video, so give it a watch! What other easy tips do you have when using Photoshop?

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