Photoshop: literally no idea what to do

So I downloaded the demo of Photoshop thinking “it can’t really be that hard, right?” It seems like nowadays everyone knows how to Photoshop things–which, interestingly, seems to have created a deep drop in how much people trust pictures they find on the internet. I figured I would quickly pick up things like “airbrushing” and “stamping,” but it was definitely not that easy.

A basic starting interface for a new Photoshop project.

A basic starting interface for a new Photoshop project.

When I first opened up the program, the first thing I had to do was literally go to a tutorial on how to open a picture for editing. In hindsight this feels like a dumb move, but I remember feeling extremely overwhelmed by the amount of options and settings available from the get-go. Just from scanning the menus I was already getting dizzy, not to mention the large amount of buttons that don’t have sufficient floating text to help me understand what they are. The paintbrush tool didn’t make any sense to me and swiping the picture of last year’s Christmas tree didn’t even seem to do anything! Frustrating.

So, as you would expect, I started to scour through beginner’s tutorials and learned about layers and masks and how these things can be added and stacked. It’s actually really interesting, when you take a second to think about it. For those who don’t know, in order to alter a picture, you need to create a duplicate picture that sort of “floats” on top the original (the layer). You can alter the layer as you see fit, fixing up the hues and contrasts and other basic things you can find in any computer monitor’s option menus. Where it gets interesting is masks.

Masks are basically a layer on top of the layer, only this time you’re not copying the original (or the layer), but you’re creating a transparent mask that you can basically punch holes in and decide what shows through the mask and what doesn’t. This proved to be very useful when trying to draw focus away from background and onto the foreground as well and isolating the subject of the picture and draining away any colour from the background. Cool.

I will say that I’m a lot more comfortable with Photoshop than I was when I first started, but I know there’s a lot more to go. Seeing that there’s even options for video editing honestly makes me want to throw my hands up in disgust and just walk away, but I’ve only got 14 days left on my trial and considering it costs $9.99USD a month to basically just rent it, I think I’ll get the most out of it and just consider it a learning experience, which is really what this whole thing is all about anyways!

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