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9 mistakes you're making in Photoshop

Lesa Snider | Oct. 30, 2014
Each version of Photoshop comes with new features that let you work smarter instead of harder, but old editing habits are hard to break--especially if you've been using the program for a long time. Here you'll find a roundup of some common editing mistakes and how to avoid them.

Use layer groups or smart objects

To add a single layer style or mask to multiple layers, you can use layer groups or sandwich 'em into a smart object, instead of merging or flattening those layers. Either way, activate the layers and then, to create a layer group, press Command-G and then add the style or mask to the group. To create a smart object, choose Layer > Smart Object > Convert to Smart Object and then add the style or mask to the smart object.

Use Smart Filters

To run filters on multiple layers, or to run filters safely on a single layer, activate the layer(s) and choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters. Photoshop sandwiches 'em into a smart object, which you can open by double-clicking. This maneuver protects your original, lets you reopen the filter for more editing (double-click its name in the Layers panel), hide the filter's effect from parts of your image (use the included smart filter mask), change the filter's blend mode and opacity (double-click the icon to the filter's right in your Layers panel to open the blending options dialog), or delete it.

Convert to smart object before resizing layers

Each time you summon Free Transform and resize layer content, you lose quality. Resize too many times, and the content becomes unrecognizable. To preserve quality, convert the layer(s) into a smart object as described earlier or choose File > Open as Smart Object in the first place. That way you can resize content till the cows come home without making pixel pudding.

Don't feather the selection, feather the mask

If you're trying to create a soft selection — say, for a soft oval vignette collage — create the selection and then add a layer mask. In your Layers panel, double-click the mask to open the Properties panel and drag the Feather slider rightward for pure, nondestructive feathering on the fly.

Get out of Photoshop sometimes

Omnipotent as it may seem, Photoshop isn't suitable for everything. If you're setting tons of text or creating multi-page documents, use a program like Pages or InDesign. Likewise, as this article explains, it's far easier to perform some edits in Lightroom, another part of Adobe's Creative Cloud.

That said, Lightroom-like controls live in the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in: either double-click a raw format image to open it or access a version of it in Photoshop CC by choosing Filter > Camera Raw Filter. The latter is handy for making color and lighting changes to JPEGs, removing sensor spots, creating custom edge vignettes with the Radial Filter, smoothing skin with the Adjustment Brush set to a negative Clarity setting, and more.

Until next time, may the creative force be with you all!

 

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