Simple Photoshop Hidden Tricks Every Designer Should Know

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 14, 2024
Discover hidden Photoshop tricks for streamlined design. From precise selections with Quick Mask to seamless patterns, unleash your creativity effortlessly.
A MacBook with the Photoshop logo displayed on the screen, hinting at graphic design work.

Unleash your creativity with this Photoshop’s hidden tricks guide to enhancing your design workflow. Learn smart editing techniques, automate tasks, master selections, create layouts, adjust contrasts, and more. Perfect for beginners and seasoned pros alike.

Boost Your Creativity With The Following Photoshop Hidden Tricks

1. How to Make Detailed Selections Easily with Quick Mask

Quick Mask mode in Photoshop is a handy tool for making detailed selections without much hassle. Let’s break down how to use it in simple steps:

  • Start Quick Mask by clicking its icon at the bottom of the Tools panel or by pressing Q. Your picture will get a red overlay.
  • Grab the Brush tool and paint over the parts you want to select. You can change the brush’s size, how hard it is, and how see-through it is to get just the right selection.
  • The red areas show what you’re selecting. If you want to select everything else instead, just flip the mask around.
  • You can also use the Gradient tool for a selection that gently fades out. This is great for soft edges.
  • Quick Mask lets you see and tweak your selection in real time. You can add more to the selection or take parts away as needed.
  • Once you’re happy with your selection, turn off Quick Mask. Now you’ve got a selection you can work with – like copying or deleting parts of the picture.

Quick Mask is perfect for selecting complicated shapes or details that are tough to get with other tools. 

It’s a bit like using a precision tool, giving you the ability to pick exactly what you want. With a little practice, it becomes a go-to for precise work. It’s a trick worth knowing for any designer.

2. Mastering the Use of Layer Comps for Multiple Layouts

Layer Comps in Photoshop is a cool tool that lets you save different designs in the same file. This is super handy when you want to try out different looks, switch ideas quickly, or show options to someone. Here’s a simple way to use them:

Set up your main design

First, put together your main design with all the layers you need. Remember to name and organize your layers so you can easily find stuff later.

Create Layer Comps

Next, head to the Layer Comps panel and click “New Layer Comp”. Name it something clear like “Blue Version”. Any changes you make from now on will be saved in this comp.

Tweak your layers

Now, play around with your design. Turn layers on or off, change text, swap images, or adjust colors. Make a new Layer Comp for each version.

Use comps for quick switching

After making a few comps, you can quickly switch between them to see different options. This is also great for showing ideas to clients.

Export comps individually

When you’re ready, you can pick a comp and save just that version. This keeps your file clean, with all your different ideas in one place.

Working with Layer Comps makes trying new things and making changes easy. Plus, it helps you avoid having a ton of files for one project. It’s a smart way to keep your work organized and flexible.

3. Enhancing Images with Local Contrast Adjustment

Local contrast adjustment in Photoshop is a great way to make specific parts of your image pop by adjusting the contrast just in those areas. This trick can make dull images look more vibrant by highlighting more details in both bright and dark parts.

Enhance specific image areas using selection tools like Quick Selection, refine edges with the Refine Edge tool, apply a Curves adjustment layer for targeted changes, boost contrast with a customized curve, and fine-tune selections using the mask on the Curves layer.

This method lets you target specific parts of your image for contrast enhancement, making certain details stand out more without changing the entire image. It’s a useful trick for making your photos look more dynamic and is pretty easy to get the hang of with a little practice.

4. Streamlining Workflow with Custom Actions

Actions in Photoshop are like shortcuts that let you do a bunch of steps with just one click. This is super useful when you have to do the same thing over and over again, like editing a bunch of photos in the same way.

Here’s how to set up your own actions:

  • Go to the Actions panel and hit the “Create new action” button. Give it a name that tells you what it does.
  • Hit the Record button, then do whatever steps you want to save in the action – like adjusting colors, adding effects, or saving the file.
  • Click Stop when you’re done. Now, you can use this action on any file by just clicking Play!

To use your action on lots of files at once:

  • Open one of the files you want to edit.
  • Go to File > Automate > Batch.
  • Pick the folder with all the files you want to edit.
  • Choose your action to run on each file.

Make your actions flexible:

  • You can add pauses in your action where you can make choices or tweak settings each time you run it.
  • This means your action can do its thing while still letting you customize parts of it each time.

Keep your actions organized:

  • You can group your actions based on what they do, which makes them easier to find and use.
  • You can also save your actions and share them with others or use them on a different computer.

Making your own actions can really speed up how you work in Photoshop. It’s like setting up a bunch of dominoes; once you’ve got them lined up, you just need to push the first one and watch everything else fall into place.

Actions are great for when you’ve got repetitive tasks, letting you focus on the more creative parts of your work.

5. Crafting Seamless Patterns with the Offset Filter

A person in a denim jacket stands with their back to the camera, looking out over a still lake that reflects the sky and clouds above. The scene is framed by a large, rust-colored metal sculpture that curves into circular forms on both sides.

Making a pattern that repeats without any breaks or seams can seem tough, but there’s a nifty trick in Photoshop called the Offset filter that can help. Here’s how to do it in easy steps:

Start with something simple

Pick a basic item like a shape, icon, or text. Keep it on the smaller side because you’ll be repeating it to make your pattern. Smooth edges work best to avoid any weird lines when you repeat the pattern.

Create a Pattern Fill layer

With your chosen item on its own layer, head to Layer > New Fill Layer > Pattern and select your item as the pattern source. This step lets you fill any space with your pattern.

Use the Offset filter

Now, go to Filter > Other > Offset. Type in 50% for both the horizontal and vertical options. This moves your pattern half its size in both directions.

Offset it back with -50%

Do the Offset filter step again but with -50% this time. This moves it back in the opposite direction, making the pattern come together.

Finish your pattern and check it

You can now use your pattern to fill in shapes or layers with the Pattern Fill layer you created. Look closely to see if there are any visible seams. If you find any, you can fix them by doing the Offset filter steps again.

Using the Offset filter is a clever way to quickly make seamless patterns. Try out different items and adjustments to see what cool patterns you can create.

6. Efficient Background Removal with the Background Eraser Tool

The Background Eraser tool in Photoshop is a quick way to get rid of backgrounds in pictures. Here’s how to do it step by step:

Select the Background Eraser

Find this tool under the regular Eraser tool. Click and hold the Eraser icon in the Tools panel to see it.

Adjust the Size

Change the brush size so it’s a little bigger than the thing you’re keeping. If the brush is too big or too small, it’s tough to use right.

Set Tolerance

The Tolerance setting decides how many colors get erased. A lower number means less color is removed; a higher number means more is gone. Start with a low number and go up if you need to.

Brush Over the Background

When you brush, Photoshop gets rid of colors similar to where you first clicked. Move slowly around the edges of what you want to keep for the best results.

Check Edges and Refine

Zoom in to make sure you’ve removed all the background. Use a lower Tolerance and a regular Eraser for any small bits left.

Fine Tune with Layer Mask

Put a Layer Mask on your image layer to fix any parts that were accidentally erased. Painting with white brings things back, and black hides them.

Using the Background Eraser with the right settings can quickly cut out even complicated shapes. It’s faster than other tools and looks more natural than just deleting. This tool is really useful for making clean cutouts and putting things together in new ways.

7. Advanced Color Matching Techniques

Getting colors to match perfectly in Photoshop can seem hard, but with some smart tricks, you can make it work. Here are three methods that can help:

Use the Color Sampler Tool

The Color Sampler tool is great for picking up to four colors from a picture and finding out their exact color codes. Here’s how:

  • Pick the tool and click on up to four spots in your image where the colors are what you want to match.
  • These colors will show up in the Info panel with their RGB, CMYK, and HEX codes.
  • Use these codes to adjust your own colors until they look the same.

Match Colors with Calculations

Photoshop’s calculation feature can also help you change a color to match another, especially when working with lots of images.

  • Open both images you’re working with.
  • Add a Calculate adjustment layer to the one you want to change.
  • Set it to Use: Difference, and Blend with: Underlying Layer.
  • Adjust the layer’s opacity until the colors seem to match up.

Use the Match Color Tool

For matching colors across whole images, the Match Color tool is your friend. It looks at one photo and applies its color vibe to another.

  • Make sure both images are open.
  • Go to Image > Adjustments > Match Color.
  • Pick the image with the colors you’re trying to match.
  • Play with the Luminance and Color Intensity sliders to get as close as you can to the same look.

With a bit of practice, these methods can really help. Don’t be shy to mess with the settings and opacity until you get it just right. Mastering these color matching tricks can really open up new creative doors.

8. Smart Object Advantages for Non-Destructive Editing

A darkened workspace illuminated by two computer monitors displaying a CSS code editor on the left and a graphic design application with a laptop image on the right

Smart Objects in Photoshop are pretty cool because they let you change stuff without messing up the original picture. Here’s why they’re helpful:

Flexible Transformations

Normally, when you resize or twist a picture, it can get blurry or lose quality. But with Smart Objects, you can do all that without ruining the picture. It keeps the original safe, so you can change your mind as much as you want.

Editable Effects

You can add special effects or adjustments to Smart Objects and change them later if you don’t like them. This means you’re not stuck with your first try, and you can play around until it looks just right.

Easier Replacements

If you need to change a picture with another one but keep all your edits, Smart Objects make it super easy. Just swap the picture, and all your effects and changes will still be there.

Better Organization

Putting layers together into one Smart Object keeps your project tidy. You can move or edit them all at once. Plus, you can put Smart Objects inside other Smart Objects to stay extra organized.

Using Smart Objects can make your work in Photoshop a lot smoother. You won’t have to worry about messing up your pictures, and you can experiment with changes without any stress. It’s a smart move to keep your projects flexible and easy to update.

9. Making Photoshop Easier with Tool Presets

Tool presets in Photoshop let you save your favorite settings for different tools so you can use them again without having to reset everything each time. Here’s how to make the most of them:

Save Your Go-To Settings

After you’ve set up a tool just how you like it, click the menu icon in the tool options bar and select “Save Tool Preset”. Name it something you’ll remember.

Use Presets Quickly

When you need a preset, just pick the tool, open the presets panel, and click on the one you need. Your saved settings will pop right up.

Speed Up Work with Presets in Actions

You can include your presets in actions to apply them to lots of files at once. This is a big time-saver for tasks you do a lot.

Share Presets with Teammates

You can export your presets and give them to other people who use Photoshop. This is great for making sure everyone’s working the same way.

Keep Presets Organized

Put your presets into folders with clear labels in the Presets panel. This helps you keep track of them as you get more.

Get Ideas from Default Presets

Check out the presets Photoshop comes with for some inspiration. You might find a new effect you like or think of ways to tweak them for your work.

Setting up tool presets can save you a lot of time on projects, especially when you’re doing the same things over and over.

10. Creative Use of Blend Modes for Unique Effects

Blend modes in Photoshop are tools that let you mix layers in different ways to create cool effects. Here’s how to use some blend modes in easy steps:

Overlay for brighter colors

Overlay makes colors and contrasts stronger by mixing the light and dark parts of your picture. Use it with adjustment layers like Curves or Levels to make the colors in your photos stand out more.

Color for artistic effects

The Color mode keeps the lightness of your picture but adds new colors from another layer. This is great for adding color to black-and-white photos or changing the mood of your image.

Hard Light for textures

Hard Light adds texture by making the colors either brighter or darker. It’s like adding a layer of pattern to your photo. Put a textured image on top and set it to Hard Light to see the texture blend into your photo.

Differences in cool changes

Difference changes the colors underneath based on the top layer’s colors. This can make some really unique, abstract looks when you use it with colorful layers.

Darken for deeper shadows

Darken shows only the darkest parts of both layers, which is perfect for making shadows deeper. You can use this with a dark layer or a copy of your photo that’s been made darker to add depth.

Playing with blend modes is a fun way to explore and create new looks. Try mixing different layers, textures, and colors with these modes to find something that stands out.

Unleash Your Creativity With Photoshop Hidden Tricks

Explore these hidden Photoshop tricks to enhance your design workflow effortlessly. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, learn smart editing techniques, automation tools, and advanced adjustments to unlock your creativity.

From making detailed selections with Quick Mask to crafting seamless patterns using the Offset Filter, each technique streamlines your workflow and boosts productivity.

Mastering these tricks empowers you to work smarter, achieve professional results, and stay ahead in your design endeavors.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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