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Written by:
Achraf Hazim

5 handy Photoshop tips for a better workflow

As each version of Photoshop updates there are new shortcuts and useful extras that make the life of a designer that little bit more easy. This week we take a look at 5 handy tips to help you with your workflow.


1. Adobe Preview CC


Viewing your designs on multiple devices is an essential toolset for any designer. To help with this, Adobe has released a widely available tool on the app store... Adobe Preview CC.

Using Adobe Preview, you can have a live preview of their Photoshop document available on multiple IOS devices. This is particularly important for UX designers as it helps make quick and sensible adjustments for specific devices. Alternatively you could even get clients to view designs on their device whilst amendments are made.

The major advantage here is the live feedback you can get. Overall Adobe Preview saves a lot of time as well as being a great way of enhancing your design workflow.


2. Quick aligning… everything!


Ever wanted to quickly check the distance and alignment between elements? Well, keep reading.

By holding the 'command' (CMD) button on an Apple Mac whilst a layer is selected, you enable temporary guides to appear. These guides indicate the distance of the selected element in relation to whatever your mouse is hovering over. This can be another element or even the canvas.

You can change the unit of measurement on the guides by bringing up the side rulers (CMD + R), right clicking on them and then selecting the appropriate unit type you would like to use (pixels, inches, percent etc.).

In addition, by using the align guides in conjunction with grids (CMD + ‘) you can quickly check the distance between elements, thus helping your designs to remain more consistent and accurate.


3. Use smart objects and vectors


The rise of retina and higher resolution screens means web designers are always liable to make adjustments to a website for different screen resolutions. So it is essential to work procedurally so that any changes will not harm or break the design.

By converting layers to smart objects, designers are able to adjust or even remove filters on layers nondestructively. You can this by right clicking on a layer and selecting ‘convert to smart object’ before applying filters.

Furthermore, vector graphics are also smart objects by default within Photoshop. By utilizing vector graphics, you keep that procedural workflow with the added ability to resize the vector graphics without losing quality.

In conclusion, its all about designing procedurally; working in a way that gives you the option to re-adjust elements on the fly nondestructively.


4. Quick selecting layers and groups


Whilst working with complicated Photoshop files, users sometimes find themselves sieving through a mass army of folders in order to find a specific layer.

By simply selecting the option on the top right hand side of your screen ‘auto-select’ (note that you will only see this option if you are using the move tool), Photoshop will automatically highlight the element you click on within the canvas screen onto the layers.

Furthermore, you can turn this option on temporarily by holding down CMD and right clicking on the elements. Alternatively, you can right click an element and select it from the dropdown menu that appears.

A rather small tip, but as your files get larger and more complex this tip saves a lot of time. At the end of the day, it's always best to name your folders as you work through them, before it gets unbearable.


5. Group layer styling


Adobe has finally released a feature that enables users to apply layer styles to groups. What this means to more intermediate users is that you can now have nested layer styles, giving you even more options and more importantly, save time when applying layer styles in batch.

The feature still works the same as it did before. One can simply double click a layer or group and then apply the desired effect (drop shadow etc.).  If the layer style has been applied to a group, one can also jump inside that group and apply individual layer styles to the elements.

With any new updates to Photoshop, it's about having a play around and testing them out yourself. These simple 5 tips should help you increase your productivity, even just by a small amount. And that's never a bad thing.

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