Photoshop it Fast!

On a daily basis people are looking for me to crank out designs within a few minutes. Now I am not promoting this type of reactionary design, but I do have a few tricks that will make you fly in photoshop.

#1 Only use your mouse to draw and select objects

Learning hotkeys makes you design like you have a energy drink I.V.
Photoshop Hotkeys Toolbar

First things first, set yourself up for speed

We are now designing for speed, so stop worrying about how nice the layers are labeled and just start drawing. Turn on auto-select so you can just start clicking layers and drawing/cutting/filtering away.
Autoselect Layer

Toolbar Hotkeys

Sure many people know the new file (command+N) or save (command+S), but knowing how to switch tools in photoshop without having to leave the canvas saves you boatloads of time (Refer to the graphic on the left). Also for the tools that have tools within them, like Lasso, Polygon Lasso, and Magnetic Lasso use shift plus the character for the appropriate tool.

Here are some others to speed things up

Layer Opacity:Select a layer and press number (4 will get you 40%, press 64 it will be 64%)
Brush Opacity/Strength: Press a number. Works with brushes, dodge/burn, eraser, clone stamp etc…
Brush Size: [ or ] HUGE time Saver
Brush Hardness: Shift + [ or Shift + ]
While Brushing Sample a Color:If you don’t want to switch to the eye dropper while brushing just click the option key and click to get a color.
Layer Order: Command + [ or Command + ] to bring backwords and fowards (respectively). Add a shift in there and it goes to the very bottom or top.
View Actual Size:Command + 1, nice when doing web layouts
Fit on Screen: Command + 0
Transform a Layer: Command+T. Perspective Skew, warp? Just right click on the corner of the bounding box.
Put Multiple layers in a folder: Click them all (since you have auto-select on) and command+G.
Marquee a layer: Hold command and click on the layer thumbnail.
Fill a layer/marquee with foreground color: Option + Delete
Fill a layer/marquee with background color: Command + Delete
Merge Layers: Command + E
Go back multiple steps: Command+Option+Z. (command Z will only take you back and forth between the last thing you did)

#2 Save color swatches and layer styles

No need to retype those hexadecimal values every time.
Just saving your companies or your clients palette will save you loads of time. As you are filling or drawing layers just sample from your swatch pallete and keep going.
Add to Swatches

Keep all your gradients you make in photoshop, this will save you in the long run. let’s say you created a really neat gradient for one client and you are looking for something similar but with their colors. Just go into layer styles see that gradient saved their, keep the positions of the colors the same just change the color values to meet your clients look, and your good to go. It is a bit of a process to save them, so do it when you aren’t in fire drill mode for designing. That way you have it ready when the client/boss beckons your "speed racer" like design skills. Go speed racer gooooo

  1. Create an Awesome Web 2.0 gradient
  2. Click Save in the gradient palette, save it in your Photoshop/Presets/Gradients Folder
  3. Click load in the gradient palette, and select the gradient you just saved. I have no clue why it doesn’t automatically load

#3 Design and Repeat

Your option key should be called the copy key in photoshop
Need to start copying layers quickly. Just hold option and start dragging your layers around. This is a pretty basic concept in photoshop, but it carries through in other areas of the software as well.

Let’s say you created that awesome web 2.0 gradient and need to apply it to another 5 layers. While its really nice that you have that gradient saved for you to use again, what if you have a glow, or drop shadow on the layer as well? Click and hold option the layer styles in the layer palette and drag from one layer to another. If you want to just copy on aspect of the layer style (just the gradient) just mouse over that layer style click and hold option and drag to the target layer.

#4 Working with text

How come working with text in photoshop is painful?
Okay so you are finishing of a design and need to add some text and do some treatments, but since you designed so fast your layers are a mess and you hate trying to find them in the layer palette.

Want to start editing an existing text field. Press T to get your text tool and click on the text layer. Or else just click a drag a new one on to the page. Press command + T to bring up the character palette.

Now that you are editing this text field your hotkeys no longer work! So how do I get out of the text box with out having to go to the toolbar and clicking another tool? Command + Enter. This simple command will save you so much time.

Increase the font size quickly by highlighting the text and pressing command + > or command + <.

Change the font color: Instead of opening the color dialog box and selecting. Just highlight the text and click the color from those swatches you saved.

Now that you are all finished Hold command+option+shift+S and save it for web.



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