5 Photoshop Tricks You Probably Don’t Know

Because Photoshop is such a complex piece of software, you can use it for years and not utilize it to its full potential. This 9-minute video from the Photoshop Training Channel demonstrates five amazing tricks in Photoshop that you probably weren’t aware of:

1. Advanced Blending

  • Click on the brush tool.
  • Select white as the background color.
  • Create a new layer and paint.

For comparison, change the blending mode to ‘Linear Dodge’. (You’ll notice this doesn’t have any effect.)

advanced blending for highlights

Advanced Blending Options

If you bring up the Layer Style window and under Advanced Blending uncheck Transparency Shapes Layer you’ll notice that the pixels will now blend in a different way. The edges are brighter and therefore hotter than before. This technique is ideal when you want to introduce highlights on metal objects, glass, etc.

2. Precise Flare

Lens manufacturers go to great lengths to suppress lens flare. However, sometimes lens flare can give your photos an artistic touch. The following trick will come in handy in case you are unable to produce the effect in-camera.

Lens flare

Lens Flare Effect Comparison

  • Create a new layer.
  • Fill it with black (Ctrl + Backspace in Windows, Command + Backspace on Mac)
  • Change the blend mode to Screen.
  • Now, zoom into the area where you want to create the lens flare—in this case a halogen light.
  • Click on Window > Info Panel. This is where you get detailed location data (X and Y co-ordinates of the precise point where you hover).
  • Click Filter > Render > Lens Flare. This should bring up the lens flare window.
  • Press Alt (Option on Mac) and click. This brings up the Precise Flare Center.
  • You can now input the location data that you derived from the Info window onto the X and Y co-ordinates to set the flare center.

Adjust the brightness and lens type and voila! You have a beautiful lens flare in your image.

3. Contrasty Clouds

The option to render clouds may not be unknown to you. But did you know that holding down the Alt key can render more contrasty clouds?

rendering clouds in photoshop

Contrasty Clouds Comparison

Go to Filter > Render > Clouds.

OK, this part is easy. Now hold the Alt key (Option on Mac) when clicking Clouds and watch the difference.

4. Black & White Adjustment Layer

We all use the black and white adjustment layer. It’s an easy and fast method for treating a color image in black and white. But did you know that the same black and white adjustment layer can also be used for controlling the luminosity of different colors in the image?

Black and white adjustment layer

Using the black and white adjustment layer

  • Create a new black and white adjustment layer.
  • Change the blend mode to luminosity and the colors are back on.
  • You can now change each individual color slider to change its luminosity.

You can use the same technique in a different way. Click on the layer mask and hold Ctrl + Backspace in Windows (Command + Backspace on Mac) to fill it with black. The effects of the layer are hidden. You can then paint with a brush and then bring back the effects. Clicking on the adjustment layer opens up the whole color palette and you can do fine tune adjustments from there.

5. Opening the Same Image in Two Windows

Opening up the same image in two separate windows side-by-side is convenient when editing. You can zoom in on one window, make edits, and in real time watch how the broader zoomed out image looks. Yup, the changes are instantaneous.

Two windows for the same image

Opening the same image in two windows

This is how you open the same image in two different windows.

Click Window > Arrange > New Window for ‘filename’. Filename is where your work in progress file name will appear.

To display the two windows side by side click on Window > Arrange > 2-up Horizontal.

We hope these tricks will add some more tools to your editing repertoire. What are some of your favorite lesser-known Photoshop tricks?

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2 responses to “5 Photoshop Tricks You Probably Don’t Know”

  1. Dave L. says:

    Great ideas. Your lens flare was easier than what I had done to put a light in a lighthouse. I really like the B&W adjustment for colors!

  2. Jim says:

    Never seen any of it before. Cool stuff. I too like the B&W tool to enhance the colors.

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