The Design Lifecycle: Get the Most Out of Photoshop

Adobe has some of the most useful and powerful design tools currently on the market. Photoshop has become ubiquitous with editing and enhancing photos and graphic design. But if you are in the web design field, the graphic design aspects are probably the most appealing.

The Whole Process

One of the best parts of using Photoshop as a design tool is the ability to work throughout the process using only one primary program. By starting out with a rough design and continually refining it using layers and masks allows you to see how the various elements will interact with one another in a real space.

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closeup of female dressmaker sketching and drawing dresses with graphic tablet. Horizontal shape, side view

Using multiple layers that turn off and on allows you to easily see how adding or subtracting elements affects the entire design. While using tools like snap to grid keeps all the elements in line with one another leading to a clean look.

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Using Adobe’s cloud services, you can also work from multiple locations or workstations as long as the program you are using has already been downloaded and installed. This can be nice if you have to frequently move between computers within an office. No more keeping your files on a flash or portable hard drive.

Secure File Format

The Photoshop file format — .PSD — has been around for more than 25 years, and the format is still going strong. This means if you need to update an old file, you can without the need to find a work around. All files supported here!

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Because Adobe controls the format, it also works easily within the whole Adobe Suite. From Illustrator to After Effects your files can seamlessly go from one program to another without the need to transcode, which can slow you down.

Multiple Inputs

Some designers are comfortable with using a mouse and keyboard as their primary input device. While others like the more tactile feeling of a Wacom tablet or a laptop with a touchscreen. Photoshop can support many different kinds of inputs allowing a more customized and comfortable experience. Many designers prefer the touch-style input as it can allow a very fine level of detail. This format provides many inputs and is able to differentiate between hundreds of pressure levels. This is especially helpful with line thickness variation or subtle shading.

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The Photoshop community is a large one. Between the dedicated forums to instructional videos, if you run into an issue that you don’t know how to deal with, chances are someone out there already has as well. Doing a bit of digging around forums can help you answer questions and troubleshoot.

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While the community can be used just for problem solving, there are also people who create templates and ideas that are free and available to anyone. Pre-made templates can allow more time to focus on the subtle design aspects rather than having to come up with an entire piece or process from scratch. Spend more time talking to your clients and perfecting their designs.

See It in Print

Print isn’t dead, and clients will often request pieces be designed for the world beyond the Internet and social media postings. When choosing colors, size, paper and volume, follow client print specifications, and encourage collaboration with the process. As a designer, you know your work. Offer suggestions and be open to others’ opinions.