Apr 24, 2015

9 Cool Photoshop Tutorials: Beginner to Advanced

Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, these awesomely cool Photoshop tutorials will be the building blocks you need to step your game up to a higher level. As with anything in life, it takes time and practice to become great at something, but with a little bit of help that effort can be focused on the right tutorials and the right techniques.

In this tutorial I’ll walk you through common mistakes among Photoshop beginners, tips and tricks for CS5 and CS6 and some commonly used shortcuts. With all these things in one guide, this will be your go to resource for building on the knowledge and techniques of experts in the field.

This guide assumes you have access to Adobe Photoshop either on your personal laptop, a work computer, or even a friends PC or Mac. If you don’t already have Photoshop, you can purchase a monthly license for $9.99 from Adobe. Alternatively, if you’re a teacher or a student you can get an education discount here.

“Color always vexed me because I would fight with the media I was using. I love coloring in Photoshop, and it’s freed me to pursue ideas and techniques I wouldn’t have otherwise attempted. Since I get to take an assignment from concept to final execution, I have more freedom in my idea-making processes.” – Adam Hughes

What Makes A Great Photoshop Tutorial?

We’re all novices when we first start out and that’s what is so inspiring when you look at experts in their given field. They’ve put in thousands of hours, sometimes tens of thousands of hours to get to where they are today. There is no quick and dirty way to get to greatness that does not involve a lot of time and hard work.

However, picture a world where Michael Jordan only practiced free throws and nothing else. He would undoubtedly be a great free throw shooter but he may be lacking in other skills that would otherwise have been fine tuned if he had practiced them. These Photoshop tutorials are similar in the sense that they will pull you away from what you’re comfortable with and push you into new and exciting spheres.

A great tutorial is both a mixture of stretch and familiarity. It’s not fun when you watch a tutorial and you’re lost 30 seconds in where everything just went over your head. Alternatively, it’s not fun when you’re on minute 15 and you haven’t learned anything new. What makes it even more difficult is that everyone is at a different experience level so what may be a walk in the park for someone, could be a challenge for another.

The key is to find an experience level and an instructor that fulfills just enough of familiarity and stretch that it’s enjoyable and yet rewarding. Below, we will try to call out the beginner, intermediate, vs advanced tutorials so that you can gauge where your abilities are and where you should best start.

“I believe Photoshop is in some way the contemporary darkroom, the creative area that all photographers have available today.” – Douglas Kirkland

I hope you enjoyed this awesome Photoshop tutorials guide and found yourself inspired to continue to work on photography and creating your own personal style of imagery. Through Photoshop you can create any image that your imagination can work up. You’re not limited by technology anymore, just your ability and imagination. Once you get your ability to surpass your imagination, the sky is literally limitless.

If you liked this guide please share on Facebook or Twitter and with your friends. Also, please comment below with your favorite tutorial. It could be something that taught you the basics, opened up your eyes to a brand new technique of photography, or taught you your new favorite tool. We’d love to hear your thoughts or see your images you’ve created.

“For a period of time, I carried cameras with me wherever I went, and then I realized that my interest in photography was turning toward the conceptual. So I wasn’t carrying around cameras shooting stuff, I was developing concepts about what I wanted to shoot. And then I’d get the camera angle and do the job.” – Leonard Nimoy

Below I will walk you through some of the best Photoshop tutorials of all time. You may have very different ideas of what makes a great tutorial, if so, we’d love to hear from you below in the comments what your favorite tutorials are and why you like them. Let’s build on the Phamily’s knowledge base to provide each reader the very best opportunity to learn and grow.

1. Photoshop 101

This is a great beginner Photoshop tutorial and will introduce you to the basics of each tool, layers, masks, etc. This should be a go to for anyone that doesn’t have a lot of Photoshop experience.

This tutorial includes a breakdown of the most commonly used features of Photoshop, including.

  • How to optimize your Photoshop usage to your computer so it runs perfectly on a Mac or PC.
  • Using layers, masks, and channels to enhance and alter your images.
  • Changing the color of someone’s dress, or a background.
  • Saturating and desaturating portions of an image to enhance certain aspects.

2. Getting Started With Photoshop

This tutorial is a bit old, dating all the way back to 2007, but despite being old, it has a ton of helpful information. You’ll find a 5 part series covering the totality of Photoshop.

Corrie covers everything from applying gradients, working with layers, making selections on images, shortcuts and help setting up your workspace. You will also notice in the series there are tutorials on saving Photoshop images for the web if you’re creating a website. There are two full guides on Photoshop tools, when to use them, how to use them, the many features and reasoning behind which tool is better at any given time. Finally, the last guide ends with channels and selections and tips for choosing the right channels to modify.

Believe me, you could spend half a day working your way through this guide and you would get a great sense of how to use Photoshop and when to deploy different techniques.


 3. Photoshop CC Essential Tutorials & Training

This tutorial is definitely worth the money from as it’s relevant, recent, and comprehensive. It not only includes guides on Photoshop, but also Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw. You’ll learn all about using layers, adjustment layers, masking, blend modes, and smart objects during the courses.

You’ll also be walked through non destructive editing techniques, lens correction, cropping and straightening an image, color and tone adjustments dependent on your intended mood of the image. After the initial tips, you’ll be shown techniques for layer effects, filers, photo merge, and how to create panoramas and composites.

Below is a list of the topics you’ll find throughout the tutorials, in no specific order.
  • How to improve the tone, contrast, and color selection on an image. No matter the quality or age of a photo.
  • You can learn how to save images for the web, along with saving images for web galleries, posters, or thumbnails.
  • A thorough review of what RAW format is and how it compares to the common JPEG image format.
  • If you have several images with different exposures, where you’d like to adjust foreground and background exposure, you can combine multiple exposures to do so.
  • You’ll learn how to retouch and image by using the healing brush, liquify, content aware fill, and patch tools in combination.
  •  The basics of Photoshop layering, including how to select individual layers, aligning, stacking, and grouping layers. You’ll also get a breakdown of layer effects.
  • Within Adobe Bridge, you’ll learn how to rate photos, filter, create various collections of images, and tips for viewing groups of images.

4. Transform Angelina Jolie To An Avatar in Photoshop 

Now, we’re moving into a bit more advanced tutorials that will require background knowledge of layers, blending, transform tool, etc. If you find this tutorial to be a bit too advanced, try to start with one of the easier ones and work your way up to this.

In this tutorial Lacey provides a step by step guide on how to turn Angelina Jolie into Na’vi from Avatar. One of the reasons I like this tutorial is because it spans so many techniques and really allows you to flex your muscles on a number of different tools.

Remember, if you try this technique to use a very high resolution image as this will be required to maintain a realistic look. Either use an image of a celebrity or one of yourself and post the end result below. We’re excited to see all of the Phlearn fans as Avatars!


5. Beetle Beauty Photoshop Tutorial

This is an in house tutorial by our very own Aaron Nace, a photoshop expert with a great sense of composition and color. With this tutorial you’ll become an expert at the pen tool. This guide will start at an intermediate level, you should have basic knowledge of what the pen tool is and how to use it.

It starts with composition, how and why Aaron decided to place the beetle and why it brings the whole image together. You’ll also learn how to cut out the girls hand so that it appears as if the beetle is crawling on the girls mouth. Of course, it’s a dead beetle but that’s not evident when initially looking at the photo.

You will be guided through techniques on sharpening, you’ll also add and adjust highlights on the beetle as well as her lips. Finally, it will walk you through coloring her skin as well as adjusting the background color. The lips and beetle in this photo are blue with a white stripe but you can switch it up and make the lips and beetle any color you’d like.


6. Watercolor Art in Photoshop

This is a great and unique way to learn a variety of tools in Photoshop. you’ll learn how to take a photo to make it look like a water color. This image brings in a lot of various layers so you will need to have prior experience with layers and photo manipulation. You can try to recreate the image below by using similar images or you can just use the basic techniques to combine images and create your own watercolor photo.

This tutorial expects that you will know how to cut a girl out of an image, use smart images, and manipulate layers. You will use splatter brushes along with applying textures, and layering stock images.

Plus, you’ll get tips to make everything seem like it’s been painted onto a canvas and made to look like a water color. This can often times be the hardest thing about this tutorial.


7. Surreal Photoshop Tutorial

If you’re a fan of surreal then you will be a fan of this tutorial that has a Salvador Dali feel to the image. This was created by Mariusz Karasiewicz and guides you through photo manipulation to create a surreal face and arm in a desert.

He uses quite a bit of stock images to create this final surreal image so make sure you have access to a set of stock images and aren’t copyrighting images from others. You’ll learn how to combine a background sky, desert, and clouds with a foreground face, clocks, arm, and a few textures to make everything a bit more surreal looking.

One of the best parts of this tutorial is that you can download the PSD files so you can recreate the image exactly as you see it here. This is helpful because when you look at an image and you can recreate it that gives you the ability to picture an image in your mind and create what you’re thinking into an actual photo. This is often times one of the harder things to do in photography.


8. Couture Fashion Tutorial

If you’re a fan of fashion you will love this tutorial more and more as you get into it. It was a ton of fun to work my way through this tutorial and really get creative in the bright colors, the fashion forward tone and bringing together brightly colored shoes and clothes and background into one image.

This is a photoshop tutorial by Servian Becha and was created for the fashion editorial called Silent Spring. This image actually appeared in a fashion magazine called Faar magazine. You can walk through the steps to recreate an image that has been published in an international magazine.

Feel free to either use your very own fashion sense when combining shoes and clothes or you can use the images provided within the file pack to work through. You’ll get a walk through on how to create ceramic looking facial masks like in the image below and how he got that surreal dreamy look to the photo.

You’ll also be guided through recreating the lettering over the top and how to make the words feel three dimensional with a bit of a wispy feel to them. Lastly, you’ll be guided through how to enhance the atmosphere and adjust the layers. This tutorial should take you about 3-4 hours to complete if you’re following along. Head over to the site to get a copy of all the files needed to recreate it so you can make your very own. Also, if you use different clothes, a different model, or other techniques feel free to post it in the comments below so we can get more helpful ideas.


 9. Professional Portrait Retouching

The last tutorial on our list is a professional portrait retouching tutorial that will teach you how to remove acne, blemishes and more from a photo to clean up someone’s skin. This is a great tutorial if you take photos for a living at weddings or portraits and need to edit your clients image to remove blemishes and fix skin tone, provide better definition in places, etc.

You will learn everything there is to learn about professional retouching. You will remove blemishes from this woman’s face, paint on new skin to make skin color more uniform. You will learn how to shape someone’s body or face to be thinner or more definition in their cheek bones, etc. Finally, this tutorial will walk you though how to create makeup in Photoshop and apply it to someone’s eyes, lips, etc.

Alternatively, this is a great option if you haven’t ever used Photoshop to edit one of your own images before. If you think of how expensive it costs to get a portrait professionally retouched, you will know how useful this guide could be. After learning the basics that the experts use you will be able to edit your very own images without relying on paying someone else to do it for you.


That wraps up the best Photoshop tutorials from around the web. We’ve tried to provide a good mixture of basic guides that will get you up to speed to the most advanced options out there. Try out a few and see how each one works for you. If you find yourself bored, jump to a harder one. If you find yourself too challenged, simply head over to the basic options. Enjoy!

“When it comes to controlling human beings, there is no better instrument than lies. Because you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.” – Michael Ende

Photoshop Tutorial Shortcuts

You will notice a tremendous improvement in your speed and efficiency after implementing just a few of the most popular Photoshop shortcuts. It will be slow initially when you have to look up what the shortcut is for each tool or action. However, it’s an investment in the future as you will increase your speed dramatically when you can fluidly utilize a wide array of shortcuts just like second nature.

I’ve provided a breakdown of both Mac shortcuts and Windows shortcuts depending on what type of computer you prefer. You can also refer to the Phlearn keyboard shortcuts dedicated page for additional tips.

Photoshop Effect Mac Shortcut Windows Shortcut
New layer via cut Cmd+Shift+J Ctrl+Shift+J
Increase or decrease size of selected text by 10pts Cmd+Option+Shift->/< Ctrl+Alt+Shift+>/<
Selecting Cmd+Shift+D Ctrl+Shift+D
Hue or Saturation Cmd+U Ctrl+U
Select all layers Cmd+Opt+A Ctrl+Alt+A
Flatten layers Cmd+Alt+Shift+E Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E
Free Transform Cmd+T Cmd+T
Fill Shift+F5 Shift+F5
Content Aware Move Shift+J Shift+J
Black and white dialog box Shift+Cmd+Alt+B Shift+Ctrl+Alt+B
Zoom in Cmd+plus(+) Ctrl+plus(+)
Select bottom layer Opt+Comma(,) Alt+Comma(,)
Blending modes Shift+plus(+) or minus(-) Shift+plus(+) or minus(-)
Render Opt+Shift+Cmd+R Opt+Shift+Ctrl+R
Deselect all but the intersected area Shift+Opt+drag Shift+Alt+drag
Increase or decrease kerning or tracking Option+Right/Left Arrow Alt+Right/Left Arrow
Invert selection Cmd+Shift+I Ctrl+Shift+I
New layer via copy Cmd+J Ctrl+J
Select a colour from an image Opt+Brush Tool Alt+Brush Tool
First or last brush </> </>
Show or Hide selection on selected type Ctrl+H Ctrl+H
Copy multiple layers Shift+Cmd+C Shift+Ctrl+C
Close & go to bridge Cmd+Shift+W Ctrl+Shift+W
Change image size Cmd+Opt+i Ctrl+Alt+i
Deselect from the selection area Opt+drag Alt+drag
Toggle airbrush option Shift+Alt+P Shift+Alt+P
Deselect the entire image Cmd+D Ctrl+D
Create clipping mask Cmd+Opt+G Ctrl+Alt+G
Auto Tone Shift+Cmd+L Shift+Ctrl+L
Saving and closing Cmd+Shift+Opt+S Ctrl+Shift+Alt+S
Show or Hide Polygons Opt+Cmd+X Opt+Ctrl+X
Color Balance Cmd+B Ctrl+B
Reveal All Opt+Shift+Cmd+X Opt+Shift+Ctrl+X
Move a selection Spacebar+Marquee Tool Spacebar+Marquee Tool
Zoom out Cmd+Minus(-) Ctrl+Minus(-)
Viewing Cmd+Opt+0 Ctrl+Alt+0
Align text left or center or right Cmd-Shift-L/C/R Ctrl+Shift+L/C/R
Previous or next brush ,/. ,/.
Lens correction Shift+Cmd+R Shift+Ctrl+R
Select individual channels Cmd+3(red),4(green),5(blue) Ctrl+3(red),4(green),5(blue)
Send layer back Cmd+[ Ctrl+[
Bring layer to top of stack Cmd+Shift+] Ctrl+Shift+]
Text in Photoshop Cmd+Shift+>/< Ctrl+Shift+>/<
Increase or decrease brush size ]/[ ]/[
Send layer to bottom of stack Cmd+Shift+[ Ctrl+Shift+[
Desaturate Cmd+Shift+U Ctrl+Shift+U
Bring layer forward Cmd+] Ctrl+]
Fit on screen Cmd+0 Ctrl+0
Camera Raw Filter Shift+Cmd+A Shift+Ctrl+A
Curves Cmd+M Ctrl+M
Merge visible Layers Cmd+Shift+E Ctrl+Shift+E
Content aware scale Cmd+Shift+Opt+C Ctrl+Shift+Alt+C
Increase or decrease brush hardness }/{ }/{
Select top layer Opt+Period(.) Alt+Period(.)
Find the sizing handles Cmd+T, Cmd+0 Ctrl+T, then Ctrl+0
Adaptive Wide Angle Opt+Shift+Cmd+A Opt+Shift+Ctrl+A

No matter what you do, don’t ever stop learning and working toward bettering your photography and Photoshop skills. We’re all on a journey to getting better with work and effort. Let’s share in that journey together and have fun doing it!


user image You
(will not be published)

  • user image

    While Phlearn is my number one photoshop tutorial site, three other sites I follow are very high quality and somewhat unique.
    First, Glyn Dewis, out of the UK, brings his own tantalizing style to his tutorials. He is particularly good at bringing super-simple solutions to common photoshop problems such as lighting and cut-outs. You can find him on YouTube.
    Jesús Ramirez runs Photoshop Training Channel. In particular, he has three stand-out tutorials: face swapping, perspective and vanishing points, and blending modes explained — among many others.
    Marty Geller of Blue Lightning TV offers many amazing ‘from scratch’ photoshop tutorials. He offers a recipe-like style that turns out things like realistic planets and wild text.
    One other shout out is for Steve Caplin out of the UK. His “How to Cheat in Photoshop” book and website offers top-notch material for the aspiring photoshopper to practice the craft.


    • Justin

      Steve Caplin and Marty Geller are great. I had not heard of the other two people before, I’ll check them out. Thanks for sharing Daniel. Keep up the great work Phlearn!

  • user image
    Marge Morrell

    Outdoor Photo shoot: How to remove extreme facial shadows using Photoshop

    This may be addressed in one of the tutorials on lighting? If so, please point me to the right one? If not, this is a suggestion for a future tutorial.

  • user image

    Couture Fashion Tutorial

    My attempt at the above tutorial, another pleasing project, the only thing I could not do was the paint effect on the arm, I did however try this with the path tool but I couldn’t get it to look anything like paint so I chose the easy option 🙂

  • user image

    This is my attempt at the avatar tutorial, I didn’t use Anjelina Jolie, had some problems getting the nose right as well.

  • email.tanyushka

    It does not make a big sense, but some shortcuts that i found needs to be fixed:
    Flatten layers Cmd+Alt+Shift+E Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E =>
    Flatten layers Cmd+Opt+Shift+E Ctrl+Alt+Shift+E
    Black and white dialog box Shift+Cmd+Alt+B Shift+Ctrl+Alt+B =>
    Black and white dialog box Shift+Cmd+Opt+B Shift+Ctrl+Alt+B
    Render Opt+Shift+Cmd+R Opt+Shift+Ctrl+R =>
    Render Opt+Shift+Cmd+R Alt+Shift+Ctrl+R
    Toggle airbrush option Shift+Alt+P Shift+Alt+P =>
    Toggle airbrush option Shift+Opt+P Shift+Alt+P
    Show or Hide Polygons Opt+Cmd+X Opt+Ctrl+X =>
    Show or Hide Polygons Opt+Cmd+X Alt+Ctrl+X

    PS : No matter what you do, don’t ever stop working toward bettering your skills. Good luck!

  • user image

    When I first started using Photoshop it was very frustrating. I laugh at your 30 seconds into a tutorial and getting lost, I was lost at Hi, my name is Arron Nace. My girlfriend would laugh at me because I was always loosing my Photoshop tools.
    What I want to say is I struggled through many Photoshop tutorials and as I did I would look up definitions, try other tutorials on the same topic and pause videos as I tried to follow and do the exercise. Just hanging in there and persistence is what got me where I am now I can actually pretty much follow you and know what your talking about.
    When I took Electronics Technology in school an instructor said, “We’re not teaching you electronics, we’re teaching you the language of electronics.” I still have a lot to learn, but it sure is nice to be able to have some fun with Photoshop! So if you’re struggling just hang in there, look up some definitions or watch a different instructor, but of course always come back to Phlearn after you do.

  • user image

    Example No 8. Couture Fashion Tutorial is not work by Servian Becha. BECHA is VESNA in cyrillic alphabet. Her name is Vesna Pesic and she is from Serbia.

  • user image
    Achintha Maduka

    I like to edit photos in Photoshop, but i didn’t know anything. One day i saw a tutorial in youtube. from that day i started to download all the PHLEARN tutorials in youtube. Now i can do many things in Photoshop. Thanks to PHLEARN.. Special Thanks to Sir Aaron Nace. I don’t miss your tutorials. keep it up. I love PHLEARN…