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Useful Shortcuts in Adobe Photoshop

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Welcome to my second tutorial, this time i will try to give you usefull information on keyboard shortcuts, dialogs and tricks in Adobe Photoshop(tm). Using the techniques explained in this tutorial can help you improve your efficiency and speed when

I will also go over some functions in Photoshop that can quickly change the mood and colors in your painting. I'm talking about the powerful "Curves", "Hue/Saturation", "Color Balance" and other dialogs. These functions can be VERY useful to fix problems, add fx postwork and much more.

This tutorial is based on Adobe Photoshop 7.0, but most rules aply to older versions
as well. Contact me if a certain function don't work for you and I'll update the

Note: I will only go trough those functions that i found to be very helpful to an artist when painting. Adobe has put together a quick reference paper on many of the most used shortcuts. The file is availiable as PDF.Click
here to download Adobes Quick Reference paper

(you must have Adobe Acrobat
Reader installed)

I would love some input and feedback on these tutorials so please don't hesitate to comment on my portfolio or mail me at - portfolio:

Painters most used tools

Hold over tool to see shortcut

Brush Tool

Keyboard shortcut: B
The most common tool, used for painting in the canvas. Can be set to have soft edges (airbrush) or hard edges. In Adobe Photoshop 7.0, these brushes can be modified using the brush engine. To reach this tool just press the keyboard button "B".

ALT + mouseclick
Quick eyedropper mode: Hold down ALT and click on the painting to pick the color beneath and use it as the current drawing color. Very handy! I think i use this function the most when painting.

Move in canvas: Hold down SPACEBAR when using the brush tool to use the Hand Tool and you can then move on the canvas. When you release SPACEBAR you can continue painting. Good to use when working on details zoomed in.

Draw straight lines: If you hold down SHIFT while painting your brush strokes will become vertical or horizontal straight lines.

SHIFT + mouseclick
Draw more specific lines: If you hold SHIFT and click in the canvas the line will go from point A to next click point. This is really good for doing perspective layouts.

Opacity defines how much color to paint with and how much of the background to go through. 50% will paint with half the color you choose and let the background be 50% visible in the background. While using the brush tool you can set the opacity using following:

To use 45% in opacity you first click 4 and directly after a 5.

. and , (comma and dot)
Select brush

There also is a keyboard shortcut for choosing brushes. You can go forward and backwards in the brush list. I usually paint with the default brushes. They come in sizes from 1 pixel to 300 pixels. So i'ts a quick way to increase and decrease size of brush.

[ and ]
Increase and Decrease brush size

Using these keys to change the size of the current brush.
Note: I haven't been able to use this on my swedish keyboard, if you have any information or tips on this, please contact me.

Exact brushes
Most artist want to see the exact size of the brush when you are painting. This is not turned on by default. To change this, go to "Edit" in the menu. Then choose "Preferences" and "Display and Cursors". Set the settings for the cursors as the image below.


Burn Tool

Keyboard shortcut: O
Burn tool is a great tool for darkening areas you painted. Some uses it for shading in their paintings. I mostly use this tool for adding texturising and dynamic lighting. When using this tool you can configure it the same as with a brush.

845_tid_dodge_tool.gif 845_tid_sponge_tool.gif

Note: If you can't find this tool do the following. See if you find the tools you have here to the left. They are called the "Dodge Tool" and the "Sponge Tool". You see the little arrow in the right bottom corner? If you hold down the mouse button on these tools with an arrow a list of other tools folds out.

All of the tools in the list have the same keyboard shortcuts, you can choose the next tool by holding down SHIFT + and the tools shortcut. For example: SHIFT + O to change between Dodge, Burn and the Sponge tool.

ALT + mouseclick
Dodge mode:

Hold down ALT and use the burn tool as usual, but when holding down ALT it will dodge the painting instead of burning. In other words, holding down ALT will lighten instead of darkening.

Using burn tool to add basic depth and shadows
When i paint my paintings i usually start with a sketch, then i do a quick base coloring. After that begins texturing, first step i do when i texturize is to add shadows. I add shadows using the burn tool.

Click to Enlarge

Darkening painted areas...
As i continued working on my painting Skullbridge i needed to add more contrast and mood to the painting. By darkening some areas my overal feeling changed greatly. Below you can see a before and after picture. It makes a great difference.

Click to Enlarge

I usually add details that have a brighter color on top of the parts i just darkened. This will make the details "pop" out and give depth.

Eraser Tool

Keyboard shortcut: E
Eraser tool pretty much does what it's supposed to do, it erases what you have painted. It acts just as a brush, so you can configure the eraser just as an brush. All brush shortcuts also works on the eraser.

Tip 004 - Don't undo faulty brushstrokes
If you are painting a sketch or an outline where you for example needs to draw a line. But you don't manage to get it correct... Don't erase or undo your faulty brushstrokes (apply this only if you are painting on a transparent background). Instead have the faulty stroke visible and draw the new on top over the old one. Then you can more easily avoid doing the same mistake again.
When you have a correct brushstroke, use the eraser tool to remove the faulty one. If you are used to layers, why not draw the new stroke on a seperate layer. Then it's just to remove the other layer.

continued on next page >

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