While working in photoshop I often pick up some new tricks each and every time. But then I also have some common "rules" that have proved very helpful time and time again. I would like to share some of them with you:)
Some random but hopefully useful photoshop tips:
*Always use layers, that way you can erase and delate what you aren't happy with. This is especielly important when painting or working with manipulation.
*Make two layers of the same picture. One is your experiment layer, one is the normal one where you do your usual adjustments. On the experiment layer you can go wild and try new things. If you don't like it, erase it, try something else. You will still have your usual layer underneath and untouched. Don't be afraid to try something new, even if it is just in a subtle way. Photoshop offers limitless chances to explore and create.
* SAVE all the time. You never know when your computer will decide to try to haunt your soul.
* The smudge tool can be your best friend and also your worst enemy. It's extremely useful when working with manipulations, it can smooth AND create skin, hair, textures, everything. It can make everything look much more realistic. But when overdone it can look terrible. Just like the blur tool.
* Rotate the canvas (Image, rotate canvas) from time to time. This is the most useful when painting. By rotating everything you're working on you can view it from a completely new perspective.
* Experiment with different textures. A texture can often give a completely different feel to a picture. It can spice up a photograph and add feeling to a manipulation.
* Noisy pictures can take all the focus away from what's important, always reduce the noise if needed but don't overdo it.
* A quick tip to add some drama in your picture and focus to where it belongs is to slightly burn the edges and surrondings of the picture.
* When adding manipulation in your pictures ALWAYS make sure that the elements "fit" including with color tones, light and temperature.
* By having your history pallette open and on the side of your picture it's very quick to go back and forward between steps. I always use this instead of the keyboard, it just feels easier to me.
* Gradients in photoshop seem to be very underrated. They can be used in a very subtle way and often add that extra something to your art.
* When creating light and shadows be VERY careful to not "bleach" your picture or darken it too much in places you don't want it. It needs to keep a harmony and realism and add to your art, not destroy it.
* Investing in one great filter can often be a good idea. And there's thousands of free ones and most shareware offer a trial for you to try out. If you get your hands on a really good filter it can lift your picture to new heights. I will be writing a filter guide as a blog very soon:) I tried out most of the filters on the market, both shareware and freeware.
*Unless you're going for a surrealistic feeling you need to use your effects in a sparse way. Coloring, lightning, filters. If realism is your goal then stick to some subtle corrections. Using the curves only can sometimes be enough. When knowing how to use the curves properly you can create amazing efects with this one tool. Some simple cropping can also be enough to really bring out your picture and the focus of it.
* When resizing something to be smaller you often need to give it some sharpness back.
* "Fade" (edit, fade) is something I use a lot. If I for exemple sharpen my image and then feel like I overdid it I go there and simply bring the effect down. It's quick and easy.
* Experiment with blend modes. Also remember to play with opacity, that way you can create subtle and even multiply effects without overdoing the effect.
* Selective coloring does not have to mean a black and white picture with a few color elements. It can mean that you simply enhance part of the color of the picture and possibly lower the saturation at the rest. Image-adjusments-selective color is very useful for this.
*When retouching a picture, the skin especially, do NOT overdo it. You don't want the plastic hollywood look, and you do not want your models to look like dolls. Work on a new layer so that you can bring in part of your original layer in the end for a realistic effect. I often use a very low strength on the smudge tool and follow the shape of the face as I gently smudge some imperfections away on a different layer. After that I ALWAYS lower the opacity..
* Powerful and expressive eyes can make an entire picture. To simply enhance them with the dodge and burn tools slightly (including whitening the whites in the eyes and darken the pupils) can be enough. Possibly use the sponge tool to add some saturation.
Hope something could be useful! Happy creating!:D