If you’re giving your pencils a break and getting into digital media, you’ll need photo editing software. Photoshop is part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and it’s used by designers around the world. This suite is so flexible that you could easily spend weeks learning its new features, watching adobe tutorials, and experimenting with tools, only to scratch the surface of its potential.

Once you overcome the learning curve, however, there are hidden gems inside Photoshop that help you streamline your workflow and get better results with less effort. In this guide to Photoshop for students, we include some of the best secrets to increase your productivity and sharpen your photo editing skills, especially if you find photoshop tutorials free.

Panel Controls

Even experienced Photoshop users may be surprised to find these hidden menus. In the top right-hand corner of each panel is an icon that, when clicked, reveals a menu with additional options you may not have seen previously. Use this hidden menu to set layer panel thumbnail previews to a bigger size, crop art, and much more.

Pasting in Place

The Paste in Place function is one that you’ll use frequently when learning how to use Adobe Photoshop, but only if you’re aware of it. After you make a selection in a current document, or in another document if you are combining artwork, copy in the normal way by using Ctrl+C or by selecting Edit > Copy. Then, in the doc you’re pasting into, use Ctrl+Shift+V to paste the copied component in the same position as in the original document.

Getting a Bird’s-Eye View

If you’re working on a detailed project such as edge refinement or cloning, it’s very easy to lose sight of the overall picture. Similarly, if you are working at high zoom levels while you learn Photoshop, navigating around a document will get old quickly. With Bird’s-Eye View, it becomes easier. When you’re zoomed in, press and hold the H key while clicking and dragging the mouse; it temporarily zooms out. When the buttons are released, you will zoom back to the level at which you were previously working.

Interactive Style Setting

When you add drop shadow layer styles, move the dialog box to either side. With a click and drag on your canvas, it’s possible to use the mouse to move that shadow relative to the layer casting it.

Repeat Transformations

When you’ve transformed an object or layer using the Edit > Transform menu, it’s easy to quickly repeat the transformation on another object or layer. Simply use Ctrl+Shift+T, and the software will copy the transformation on your current layer.

Solo Layers

Most don’t know it, but it’s possible to get a preview of a single layer. Simply use Alt+Click on the eye icon for that layer in the layer panel. Repeating the Alt+Click process will put you back on the previous visibility state. However, it’s important to note that if you inadvertently click on a different layer’s eye icon, you will not have the ability to return to its previous state.

Visibility History

If you’re looking for a way to avoid losing visibility settings when previewing an individual layer, there’s a checkbox in the History Panel dialog box that enables a layer visibility history state. Once the box is checked, use Ctrl+Alt+Z to go backward through the history in the usual way. However, you will find that changes to layer visibility are now included within the history.

Merging Vector Shapes

In our Photoshop tutorial, it’s possible to merge vector shapes and keep the results in editable vector form. Adobe CC users have this ability; simply select the shape layers and use Ctrl+E to combine them.

Quick Text Editing

With this handy shortcut, you can move the focus out of text boxes. When learning how to Photoshop and use text boxes, it’s often quite frustrating to work between tools, as shortcut keys don’t work. A great, quick tip is to press Ctrl+Return to finish editing the text and move the focus outside that text field. With this, you can quickly select another tool using the regular shortcuts.

Proper File Organization

Among experienced users and those using Photoshop for students, it’s easy to get sloppy with file naming and organization. However, if you’re submitting work, this can come back to haunt you. With proper file naming and organizational skills, your workflow will be much simpler.

Lorem Ipsum

Placeholder text is an easy way to utilize text boxes. This small, new feature will help you save time when creating mockups in Photoshop. With the lorem ipsum function, it’s easy. Simply choose the type tool and click/drag a selection to form a type box. Now, select Type > Paste in Lorem Ipsum to fill the type area with nonsensical Latin text.

Move Selections With Space

When you have made a selection in Photoshop with any of its standard tools, such as Marquee, it’s easy to move it anywhere on the canvas. Simply hold the space bar and use the active selection tool to move the area around.

History Snapshots

Snapshots are useful tools that allow you to go back to any historical point in your work. If you’ve been using Photoshop’s history feature to fix mistakes or backtrack by a step or two, this tip allows you to take full control of your composition. Open Photoshop’s history panel and click the camera icon at various milestones. This creates a historical snapshot that you can go back to at any time. These snapshots may also be used as a source for the useful history brush.

Easy Text Styling

It’s easy to get consistently-styled text with character and paragraph styles. Simply select Window > Paragraph styles to open that panel and click the New Style icon to create a style. Now, double-click on that style to set color, font, kerning, leading, hyphenation options and open-type features. To apply them to the text, just highlight it and click on the style.

Simultaneous Application of Blending Modes

One great time-saving feature is Photoshop’s ability to set a blending mode for multiple layers at the same time. Choose multiple layers by holding the Ctrl key and clicking on layers inside the appropriate panel and change blending modes for all of those layers at one time.

Non-Destructive Cropping

With Adobe CC, cropped areas don’t have to disappear. Another good addition is the ability to crop images without discarding what’s outside the cropped area. Select Photoshop’s crop tool and untick the “Delete Cropped Pixels” box. Now, when crops are applied, the image areas outside the box are hidden for subsequent use. To gain access to the areas outside the crop, choose the tool again and change the crop accordingly.

Quick Layer Hiding

Next in our Photoshop tutorial, you’ll learn how to quickly hide layers. It’s possible to get a quick preview of a current layer by deactivating all the other layers without forgetting which were hidden and which were visible. To do it, press the Alt key and click on the Layers panel’s eye icon for the layer to be isolated. When you use Alt+Click again, all other layers will automatically turn back on, and the program will remember which ones were hidden

Fast 3D Extrusions

With new tools in Adobe Photoshop, it’s easy to add visual appeal to your work with 3D extrusions. It’s simple to create textured, high-quality 3D text by setting up a type layer and selecting 3D > New 3D extrusion from the selected layer. Reflections and shadows are simple to control as well, making this an effective way to create attractive, compelling display type quickly.

Use Actions to Complete Common Tasks

Another powerful feature in this guide on how to Photoshop is the program’s ability to create macros. Here, you’ll be able to fully automate routine manipulation tasks. Open Photoshop’s actions panel to access a predefined set of actions and hit the New button to record your own.

Adding Selective Focus

With Photoshop’s blur gallery, it’s easy to selectively blur or add focus to an image. An individual focus point may be added to a composition, with fall off, blur, and iris size all edited on-canvas via the HUD. Here, you may also add effects like lens bokeh quickly and easily, making it effortless to draw the viewer’s attention to certain parts of the image.

Easy Marquee Selections

When you learn Photoshop, making marquee selections is easy. Just hold the Alt key to start selections at the center point with the Marquee tool, and hold the space bar to move the section temporarily.

Rotating Patterns

A simple keyboard shortcut is all you need to create kaleidoscopic patterns. With Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T, you may duplicate layers and repeat transformations in one step. First, make the initial rotation by using Ctrl+T and turning the image slightly, and hit the enter key to apply the fix. Next, use Ctrl+Shift+Alt+T multiple times to create the pattern.

These are just some of the advanced tips we’ve picked up in our time with Adobe Photoshop classes. Keep visiting us for more information, tricks, and advice that will make your Photoshop experience a great one. If you’re looking to explore more tips and tricks, some of the best photoshop tutorials can be found on this site.