Ah, Photoshop. The glorious, ubiquitous tool of designers, artists, and anyone who wants to chop together a funny image of a celebrity’s head on an animal’s body. This application is so widely and diversely used that it has reached a level of superiority shared by only a select few other technology players: it has reached verb status (You know – you don’t just use Photoshop; it is now an action you do to something. You “Photoshop a picture”, just like you “Facebook your high school girlfriend”, or “Google that restaurant”.) But apparently, just because everyone and their teenage daughter is using Photoshop these days, that’s not to say they are using it correctly, or without many common mistakes.
If your goal is to surpass the level of average bumbling Photoshop newbie, watch out for the following, very common, Photoshop mistakes:
- Using it for large body copy – Photoshop can be used for text, and for a lot of purposes it’s perfectly fine to do so. However, Photoshop is a rastor-based program, which for large areas of copy will result in a slightly less-sharp, less clean looking end result than vector-based applications like InDesign or Quark.
- K = 100 does not equal black – Doesn’t matter who you are, your eyeballs aren’t perfect. So even if setting the K in your CMYK to 100 looks “black enough”, it’s actually a dark gray. Instead, try adjusting your settings to C=90 M=60 Y=30 K=100. Again, the difference might be subtle, but many small, barely noticeable adjustments to an image make the difference between something that looks as clean, polished, and as perfect as possible, and something that looks kind of…bleh.
- Creating logos in Photoshop – Good rule is to just not do it. And this doesn’t just go for logos; any image that you might want to change the scale and size of is going to be much better off being rendered in a vector-based application like Illustrator. Think of it like this: Photoshop is best relegated to the editing of images, not the actual creation.
- Ignoring layers – In almost all Photoshop scenarios, layers and folders are your best friends. Giving each component and edit to a project its own layer will make it much more fluid and much less complicated when you want to change things around, and experiment with your work. It essentially gives each element its own identity, allowing you to freely arrange and re-arrange how they interact with each other, or to eliminate them completely.
- Gradients, filters, and other gadgets – This rule basically applies to anything that can up the tacky factor in your project. Gradients aren’t always terrible, but if you are keen to go there, it’s best to avoid rainbow gradients. Instead, stick to traveling between analogous colors, or different shades of the same color. Drop shadows, embossed text, or weird filters…all of these run a very high risk of coming out looking childish, awkward, and just plain unpleasant. So unless you have a client who absolutely refuses to be dissuaded, or you’re actually trying to produce something that looks tacky (and hey, there are plenty of reasons to do so!), it’s generally a good plan to avoid these “tools” altogether.
Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments below some of the most common blunders you’ve come across.