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Photoshop Resources

Graphic Design Degree Guide: Photoshop Resources

Adobe Photoshop is a suite of applications for creating and editing images: illustrations, photographs, diagrams, and so on. While its use may seem innocuous, this powerful set of tools, according to psychologist Vivian Diller (see below), has largely come to represent the blurring of reality and fantasy in the images we see on websites and magazine covers. So profound is Photoshop, Diller writes, that the American Medical Association expressed concerned that programs like Photoshop provide overly idealistic images of celebrities that can lead to eating disorders. Needless to say, Photoshop has become the industry standard in the many professions that require image manipulation, whether those who work in such industries are affected by its cultural impact or not.

This page serves as a jumping off point for computer users interested in Photoshop, whether they are amateur photographers seeking to touch up up their recent vacation photos or professionals — graphic designers, journalists, etc. — who wish to make Photoshop one of the many tools at their disposal in the workplace. The first section provides some history of the product and information about its essential uses while the remaining sections are broader in scope, connecting visitors to tutorials, downloads, articles, and events. Although this page is by no means an exhaustive list of Photoshop websites, each entry is annotated.

Introduction to Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a raster graphics editor, which simply means that users can manipulate images — photos or illustrations — and save them in one of the common picture file formats: JPEGs, PNGs, BMPs, and so on. Raster graphics editors like Photoshop are ideal for imprecise edits, such as special effects, touch-ups, and coloring, as opposed to vector graphics editors that are used to create diagrams, schematics, and other illustrations that require more exactitude. Despite its classification, later editions of Photoshop nevertheless incorporate many features of vector graphics editors, making Photoshop a multifaceted, and sometimes intimidating, application. The websites below can help guide newcomers through these many applications.

The first version of Photoshop was developed by John and Thomas Knoll and released in 1990, a black-and-white program for the Macintosh. Photoshop was the successor to an earlier graphics tool, Image Pro, which was a byproduct of Thomas’s graduate school hobby of coding programs to manipulate monochrome images.  Adobe Photoshop 1.0 was also a monochrome tool with features comparable to free image tools released with operating systems today: brush and fill pointers, image resizing, etc. Subsequent versions were created by an ever-growing team of developers who included an ever-increasing number of features, and were released throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The most recent versions are labeled “Creative Suite,” or “CS,” the latest of which is CS5.  More details about Photoshop’s history can be read at Webdesigner Depot.

  • 20 Years of Adobe Photoshop is a version-by-version history of the software, starting with its development origins in 1987. The page provides images of the original editing environments of early releases of Photoshop, text descriptions of version, and a video interview with John Knoll, the original programmer’s brother who, during Photoshop’s incipient years, worked for Industrial Light and Magic.
  • Lesson Plans: Introduction to Photoshop, a combination of assignments and class objectives, for working with Photoshop from Princeton Online. Although the lesson plans were originally intended for Photoshop 7, a Powerpoint presentation, various tutorials for beginners, and a compilation of helpful videos, are all available for more recent versions.
  • Introduction to Photoshop, part of the University of North Carolina Health Sciences Library, runs students step-by-step through the essentials of using Photoshop. The tutorial carefully defines concepts used in Photoshop editing, such as “bitmaps” and “GIFs” and ends with a tutorial on exporting images or printing them out.

Photoshop Resources

Photoshop is used by photographers, artists, hobbyists, web designers, and many others. Plugins, add-ons, and special versions of the application can be downloaded to help tailor Photoshop to these specific professions.  For instance:

  • Adobe Photoshop Express allows web designers to use Flash technology to edit images directly on a website. Image tools traditionally require that developers work offline and then upload the images once they are ready for display.
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements is a simplified version of the standard, professional edition of Photoshop, intended for more casual users. The menus and features are fewer in number and allow for less precise editing of an image (but the application as a whole costs far less).
  • Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is useful for artists and photographers in that it allows them to manage entire galleries of images and make relatively minor edits to a large number of pictures quickly.

Descriptions of how to use these products can be found in the resources below. These websites serve as a large directories of information and downloads that cater to the diverse professional backgrounds of Photoshop’s customer base.

  • Photoshop Essentials, while geared toward beginners, arranges its many tutorials and advice columns topically. These topics include photo editing, special effects, text manipulation, and many others. The site focuses on tools that are available to nearly all versions of Photoshop from v.7 onward.
  • The Photoshop Etiquette Manifesto for Web Designers is 40 guidelines for one of the most frequent customers of Photoshop, divided into sections: “Working with Type,” “Design Practices,” “Exporting,” and so on. Each guideline displays a pop-up that both explains the rule (i.e. “Name files appropriately,” etc.) in more detail and gives an example.
  • Photoshop Lady is a general depository that includes hundreds of tutorials, examples, infographics, and articles, all of which can be rated. The materials are submitted by the web master herself and by other users.
  • Photoshop World, an series of conferences and workshops in Las Vegas about the titular subject, is advertised through a broad-based website with a blog and numerous articles. The expo also includes a trade show, multiple presentations, Q&As, contests, and other events.

Photoshop Tutorials

Although tutorials that introduce users to Photoshop’s features are available on the vast majority of the websites listed on this page, the following resources offer guides to creating much more specific kinds of pictures, including themed websites, animation, cartoons, landscapes, and so on. For example, the contributors to Photoshop Tutorials tend to start from finished images and teach exclusively from example.

  • Photoshop Star compiles step-by-step tutorials that are organized by tabs along the top of the page: graphic design, photograph editing, introductions to Photoshop, etc. The website also holds regular contests, many in association with other websites, such as Deposit Photos and UPrinting.com.
  • Photoshop Tutorials are user-submitted and illustrate Photoshop’s capabilities with specific images, such as a “Realistic Steam Iron” or “Fantasy Warrior.” The site also introduces users to the basics of Photoshop and lists tutorials on associated skills, such as photography.


In its 20+ year history, Photoshop has grown from being a helpful tool for graphic designers to a cultural phenomenon. Like Google, Photoshop has become a popular verb (“to photoshop”), signifying any manipulation of digital photographs with software. The following websites do not fit into any the categories above, but briefly survey some of the effects that Photoshop has had on society at large: the distortion of reality in photo-advertising, the absurdity that such powerful tools make possible, and the impact of computerized image editing on traditional professions. Photoshop’s official homepage is also listed.

  • Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image? is one of many articles to tackle the controversy of using digital tools like Photoshop to edit photos of models and celebrities beyond the point of realism. Dr. Vivian Diller’s editorial from the Huffington Post was written in response to a recent policy statement by the American Medical Association to fight against the use of Photoshop in creating unattainable standards of body shape and size.
  • Photoshop for Digital Photographers is a series of video presentations devoted exclusively to the manipulation of photographs, the vast majority of which are available for free (some require an annual pass). Additional advice on photography and Adobe Lightroom is included as well.
  • Photoshop Disasters collects user-submitted advertisements and other publicity materials that make poor use of Photoshop and other graphics tools. Each Photoshop disaster is accompanied by a funny caption.
  • Photoshop.com is the official website of Adobe Photoshop where a trial version of the software can be downloaded. The site also serves as a general hub for users of Photoshop, providing tutorials, instructions, downloaded tools, associated products, and special services for registered users, such as an online photo gallery.

Image provided by Wikimedia Commons.