View Full Version : Becoming a Photoshop 'Master'....

01 January 2003, 03:10 AM
Im starting this thread as a way to educate myself in Adobe Photoshop and become a better 'Photoshoper' than I am.
I currently attend Durham College in Oshawa Ontario Canada where I am enrolled in Multimedia Design.
I came into this course knowing more than most about graphic design and web design but I fear the worst may be that this course is not teaching me enough to become a true 'Master' designer.

I really want to get the skills necessary to become a credible free lancer or work for a highly respected company. Not just scrape through and work here and there. Anyways I know you are wondering what this has to do with anything but I am just wondering what skill sets I should improve to reach the next level of Photoshop guru-ism....

I am teaching myself a lot of cool effects through tutorials on the web but I find myself sometimes confused on what exactly these filters do.... I can follow the instructions and execute everything fine but I dunno, maybe I am lacking a certain art aspect.
Even so I consider myself a pretty decent photoshop worker, I often can sit and look at a movie poster or a DVD menu and say to myself .. I can do that and that but not that or I can do this cover but really.. who cant? (I mean out of the designers)

Im just wondering what tutorials or necessary learning material is there to boost yourself from the semi advanced field of photoshop into the high fields. I want to become the highly sought after Photoshop designer. I feel I can do it. Im willing to learn, although this course I am in is teaching me not too much in Photoshop... yet (We still have yet to cover Actions, Textures)

Any tips as I know there are a lot of actual free lancers and actual working designers out there that may have struggled a bit at first in their careers.

Thanks guys. Ill check the replies everyday to get feedback, comments, suggestions.

(So far Ive learned: Photoshop, Director, Illustrator, 4D Cinema, its my 2nd year, learning Flash this semester)

- Matt
Yes this is my first post, and since I just found this place, its so active that it cannot be my last!

01 January 2003, 04:11 AM
I may not be as old as you, considering that i am 16. But, really i think i know a bit about photoshop but i really would like to be one of those great designers that everyone looks up to.

If you need a partner, or just someone to show your recent creations AIM me at scoobasteve1321. Or ask me for my MSN, YAHOO, IRC, or ICQ handle. (my email or MSN handle is:

I recently bid on a Wacom graphire 2 (pen pad or graphics tablet) becuase of my favorite digi-artist (he has the same tool) and i am really trying to learn photoshop well enough to be able to produce graphics like my idol neural from twisted drain ( .

So if you want to share tips, or something along the way then just contact me. I feel that you learn something way better if you teach or be taught by someone. Just a thought.

Thanks for the read! :buttrock:

01 January 2003, 04:19 AM
That link you posted is amazing. Thats exactly how I want to produce my graphics. I want to be able to totally blow people away.
Currently I taught myself some basic (well basic advanced stuff) like metallic panels and some other stuff but I still am missing a lot. Those metal structures on that site are awesome and I wish/hope I will be able to do such things.

Maybe one day! :applause:

01 January 2003, 04:22 AM
Play every day and take notes.

Use Google and read everything that even remotely interests you concerning PhotoShop.

Set goals for yourself. For example, learn all you can about extracting a subject from the background. Or figure out how to turn a photo "inside-out" with Polar Coords. Learn at least 3 different ways to make bevels by hand. Play with the Pen tools until your eyes bleed. Do you know what ctrl + alt + ` does?

Use tutorials as starting points. Once you undertand the ideas behind them, mangle 'em! Twist 'em around to suit your own needs, or just fiddle with parameters. Eventually, your mind's eye will kick into over-drive with cool things.

Also, I highly recommend getting cozy with HTML and CSS. I'm not saying you have to know how to hand code, but it can be a major posterior saver. Also, I'm not saying WYSIWYG is bad, but don't let it become a crutch.

Blood, sweat, tears, passion.

01 January 2003, 04:32 AM
Cool advice. I know HTML well but CSS not as good. Ill check out more on that.

CTRL+ALT+` - Loads Selection!

I didnt know that off the top of my head, but I checked and now I know, yay. :bounce:

01 January 2003, 04:36 AM
Does anyone out there have any metal tutorials like the ones in the link that the first poster posted?

Thanks in advance!

01 January 2003, 04:36 AM
Most everything you listed i can do...i dont know what Ctrl Alt does... im not at my house right now so i cant open up photoshop :(. I really do need to play with the pen tool until my eyes start to bleed. oh yea, im on aim right now :p . So message me if you have it. Does anyone want to flicker an idea how he created those metal structures? Also look at his "randomized madness" link. That stuff is also amazing.

i know that that guy has to use the airbrush tool, or the dodge/burn tool. i just dont understand how he can get his designs to have perfect rust stains and lighting. please someone throw ideas at me. Anyways contact me on aim...ill be on till about 10:15 its 9:39 here right now. Later!

01 January 2003, 04:44 AM
Im almost always on MSN. I added you SuperVixen so we can talk sometime.

Ian Jones
01 January 2003, 01:46 PM
I think many designers are in the same boat. I often feel just the way you do. I have had a similar experience with my education (Your lucky your teachers even know what an Action is!).

What may make you different from some who reach their peak and do not want to progress further (I have seen many in the industry like this) is desire and motivation to progress.

Don't discount that fact. You have the enthusiasm there, use it to your advantage and keep that attitude.

A lot of tutorials, as you have said are good but there are not many 'advanced' ones. The problem I think is that up to a certain point learning photoshop is a technical excercise. You learn how to use them, to a basic degree. There is a point where a designer should realise that the tools don't make good art or design on their own. I'm not saying that you should stop learning the technicalities of photoshop, rather I'm trying to say that true mastery of it comes at a point where control is in your hands and design ideas or concepts come to fruition due to your innovative use of a tool or process which is no longer constrained by the traditional uses. Seeing a new use for a tool is a great thing, but the fact that its innovative doesn't make you a photoshop guru. What makes you a guru is the fact that you didn't see the tool with tunnelvision. At that point you are in control of it, it is a weapon in your creative arsenal and instead of limiting you it effortlessly opens new ideas in your mind.

Becoming a better designer at a certain point after a lot of technical learning is about more than knowing every button and command. It is about design, principles and theory your own understanding of it and how you can use photoshop to expand you visual horizons. You can't really separate the technical side or the design side, because both work together. They are one and the same.

The fact that you are looking at movie posters or other designs you like and analyzing them is excellent. Do this a lot, it is fantastic self learning. You think you can figure out how a particular element was made. The important thing for you to do also is start asking yourself why? why is a particular design element there? why is it placed in that position? how does it relate to the whole composition? how does it relate to its local composition? why is it a particular colour? The list goes on...

These are issues that I think every designer throws around and around in their head. We use design theory to try and rationalise our thoughts about it, perhaps merely theory and principles are there to help designers communicate in a common language with other designers.

Theory's and principles are named so, because they are theory. Not fact, because different people like different things. Theory is never the final word, it isn't the bible. But it is extremely important because it can stimulate your own mind to think about design and it helps you to advance your own understanding of visual communication. I agree with most design theory, it is mostly tried and tested over many years. I am very careful not to limit myself to its 'rules' however. Its up to an individual to figure out whether they agree with some, or all or none. the process of thinking through these problems will improve your understanding vastly.

You are in a multimedia course. I think the general feeling (IMO) is that multimedia courses teach you mostly technical 'how to' subjects, under the proviso that you will seek out visual design knowledge yourself (as you are trying). They should I hope teach you some conceptual abilities aswell. Graphic design is more along the lines of learning about design theory / principles... of aesthetics. I would suggest you go out and get some design books that teach you theory. Work through them and rationalise in your own mind through every principle or theory to try and understand them or even if you think they are bullshit or not. Don't let anyone ever tell you that design rules cannot be broken. Let your own mind decide what you agree with and what you don't.

You have the enthusiasm, get some books read more and absorb any info you can. You'll soon get the bigger picture.

I hope I didn't rant too much. I just got on a roll and I hope it helps in some way.

As for learning specific photoshop things, the best way is to ask specific questions. Post a specific question and we can try to answer.

Have you learnt about layer masks yet? For me they have been a huge step forward in my working process and capabilities. Investigate your inbuilt photoshop help for a tutorial. Try searching with google aswell.

Have fun!

01 January 2003, 02:56 PM
ian, you nailed it, great post. anyone can be a "software operator" given enough time, design is a different matter entirely. i'm at a point where i can pretty much do anything i want to in photoshop, but i'll never stop learning to be a better designer.

check out a book like visual literacy ( (tho amazon doesn't seem to have it, you can prob find it if you check around) that gives you some design problems and solutions to make you think about what you're communicating visually and why. THAT'S design :)


01 January 2003, 03:14 PM
hi assasin,

really cool, that you are that much willing to learn, that's the essence!! :) maybe these links might be a little helpful, the guys have good tuts on their sites: (check tut-sections, much about layer-styles and stuff and not these "i want to make fire in ps, which is so lame, also there a a hundret different kinds to make this effect...) it's more like how can i use this to achieve that...

and also check out out

he has a very nice style of photomanipulation and also some neat tuts.. i think atm he's rebuilding his site, but still check...

01 January 2003, 03:32 PM
something i forgot...

don't try to go the easy way of comercial filters and actions or simple try not to use them until you really need them... they might be cool and you achieve cool stuff as well but this is "not you!!"

try playing around with layerstyles, alphachannels (very cool, indeed!!), lightningeffects and simply try to figure the whole prog out by yourself.
just learning by doing. and never hesitate to ask someone, if you yre stuck at some point. but always try for yourself first. that might be very frustrating in the beginning, but only if you take it like this, you will learn something. be open to take every help you can get and don't give up if someone is criticising (rightly spelled?? sorry for my bad english..) your work. criticism is not bad, you will grow, if you take it... and remember that photoshop is only a tool for yourself, it's a mindblowing one, but it's still like a pen. it will help you to get your ideas into bits... and even on paper! :)

01 January 2003, 11:51 PM
Thanks guys, today I've noticed and gained a lot of new techniques from some tutorials (that actually teach you what youre doing rather than just do it) and I believe this could be the turning point. Yay.

Thanks everyone, keep suggestions and tips coming for other people too as well as myself.

Martin Andersen
01 January 2003, 08:22 PM
my 2 cent:

- watch lot of Photoshop training CD's this is the ultimate best !!!!
it mostly doesn't matter if it is from version 5.5 or 7...

- watch for good tutorial pages, but don't wast time on manny crappy sites...

- do the Photoshop tutorials that comes with Photoshop

01 January 2003, 06:03 PM
Ya should get Adobe Photoshop 7.0 Classroom in a Book it is practically made by adobe, it will help you out alot on your quest to guruism. :buttrock: :thumbsup:

01 January 2003, 07:47 AM
tinker tinker tinker. I'm far from being a guru, but I think that a good key to understanding photoshop is actually not in knowing how photoshop does things, but how it does things differently.

Mess with other programs all you can (painter, corelpaint, even non 2d programs). Read all you can about everything, even the most arcane topics (color gamuts? printing profiles? auto thumbnailing feature?) and learn all you can.

Then the things in photoshop will begin to have new meanings, and new possibilities. I'm just starting to get around to this point now.

Oh oh oh, and specifically, for photoshop, learn all you can about selections. The power of photoshop lies in it's selection engine thingy. It ties EVERYTHING together; in my opinion.

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