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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Adobe Photoshop interface basics

The Importance of quick keys

To increase your overall efficiency while using Adobe Photoshop, it is critical to apply some effort in learning 'quick-keys'.

A quick-key is in effect a keyboard short-cut. When pressed in combination with another key, a quick key will send a command to Adobe Photoshop to perform a certain action. A good example of this can be found when holding down the 'CTRL' key and pressing the 'N'. This will cause the 'New' dialogue box to appear.

There are 100's of quick-keys to learn about in Adobe Photoshop. Most of them can be found next to commands within the menu system.

It would be an unrealistic objective to try and learn all quick-keys at this point. Indeed, you might not need to know all of them, just the ones that prove to be most useful to you. If you are applying a certain action or command on a regular basis in your work flow, rather than depending upon the menu system, take time in trying to learn its related quick-key.

Do I really need to use quick keys?

If you were to measure the time it takes to perform a certain command or action or change your current tool, and strike a comparison to how long it takes to summon that same procedure while using a quick-key, you would definitely opt for the later.


Try the following experiment for yourself to help demonstrate the importance of using quick-keys.

  1. Create a new canvas (CTRL + N) and set the size at 1000 by 1000 pixels (you may need to change the unit of measurement by clicking on the small drop-down boxes next to the Height and Width boxes).

    The image size dialogue box

  1. Zoom %1600 in to your canvas.
  1. Starting from the far left hand-side, using the brush tool 'B' (with a small brush, i.e. size '1') start to draw a line across your canvas.

    Create a brush stroke

  1. Now change tool. Use the hand tool 'H' to move your canvas along a little to the to reveal more canvas on the right. If you wish you might want to repeat this experiment later and use the scroll-bars instead of the hand tool.
  1. Now change tool again. Choose the brush tool and continue repeat from step 3 until you reach the far right of your canvas. If you zoom out, you should now see a line stretching from left to right.

    Zoom out to see line

Now repeat the same experiment, this time using the 'space-bar' to move you from left to right across your canvas. Notice how you don't even have to change tools, you can keep on using the brush tool - the space-bar (for as long as the key is pressed) will momentary become the hand tool.

If you were to time this experiment, this first method should take about 45 seconds to complete. The second method - 5 seconds.

Using a well rehearsed quick-key will take a fraction of a second to apply, saving you time and giving you more time to spend perfecting your artwork. Such a simple philosophy - and it works!

Quick Key Map

The Following table is a useful listing of commonly used quick keys.
Note: You will need to hold the 'Shift' key to cycle though obscured tools with the tool palette.

Tool palette quick keys

Rectangular Marquee (M) - M
Elliptical Marquee - M
Single Row Marquee - M
Single Column Marquee - M
Move (V) - V
Lasso (L) - L
Polygonal Lasso - L
Magnetic Lasso - L
Magic Wand (W) - W
Crop (C) - C
Slice (K) - K
Slice Select - K
Healing Brush (J) - J
Patch - J
Brush (B) - B
Pencil - B
Clone Stamp (S) - S
Pattern Stamp - S
History Brush (Y) - Y
Art History - Y
Eraser (E) - E
Background Eraser - E
Magic Eraser - E
Gradient (G) - G
Paint Bucket - G
Blur (R) - R
Sharpen - R
Smudge - R
Dodge (O) - O
Burn - O
Sponge - O
Path Selection (A) - A
Direct Selection - A
Horizontal Type (T) - T
Vertical Type - T
Horizontal Type Mask - T
Vertical Type Mask - T
Pen (P) - P
Freeform Pen - P
Add Anchor Point - P
Delete Anchor Point - P
Convert Point - P
Rectangle (U) - U
Rounded Rectangle - U
Ellipse - U
Polygon - U
Line - U
Custom Shape - U
Notes (N) - N
Audio Annotation - N
Eyedropper (I) - I
Color Sampler - I
Measure - I
Hand (H) - H
Zoom (Z) - Z

Viewing & Image Navigation

100% Magnify - Alt+CTRL+0 (zero)
Zoom in/out - CTRL + or CTRL
Fit image in window - CTRL+0 (zero)
Actual Pixels - CTRL+Alt+0 (zero)
Move around canvas - Space-bar
Scroll up/down - Page Up or Page Down
Go to top left hand corner - Home
Go to Bottom right hand corner - End

Painting Within Photoshop

Fill Dialogue box - Shft+Backspace
Fill layer or select with foreground colour - Alt+Backspace
Fill layer or select with background colour - CTRL+Backspace
Paint in straight lines - Shft+left click
Set flow - Shft+Numeric key (0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc)
Set Opacity - Numeric key (0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc)
Select colour from image - Alt+left click
Select Background colour from image - Shft+Alt+left click

Selecting & Moving

Move Layer - CTRL
Constrain Marquee Proportions - Shft
Draw new Marquee from Centre - Alt+left click and drag
Moves selection 1 pixel - Arrow keys
Moves selection 10 pixels - Shft+Arrow keys
Move non-selected layer - CTRL+Arrow keys
Accept changes to Transform - Enter or double left click on object
Accept Crop - Enter or double left click on object


Select All - CTRL+A
De-select - CTRL+D
Reselect - CTRL+Shift+D
Hide/Show Selection - CTRL+H
Close Polygonal Selection - Enter
Discontinue Polygonal Selection - Escape (Esc)
Invert Selection - Shift+CTRL+Alt+I
Feathering - CTRL+Alt+D

Colouring & Correcting Colour

Levels - CTRL+L
Auto Levels - CTRL+Shift+L
Auto Contrast - CTRL+Shift+Alt+L
Auto Colour - CTRL+Shift+B
De-saturate - CTRL+Shift+U
Curves - CTRL+M
Hue & Saturation - CTRL+U
Colour Balance - CTRL+B

Various Photoshop Functions

Undo - CTRL+Z
Redo - CTRL+Shift+Z
Undo Multiple - CTRL+Alt+Z
Redo Multiple - CTRL+Shift+Z
Copy - CTRL+C
Cut - CTRL+X
Paste - CTRL+V
Apply Last Filter - CTRL+F
Extract - CTRL+Alt+X
Liquify - CTRL+Shift+X
Pattern Maker - CTRL+Shift+Alt+X
Free Transform - CTRL+T
Transform Again - CTRL+Shift+T
Photoshop Preferences - CTRL+K
Colour Setup - CTRL+Shift+K
Show Grid - CTRL+@
Show Ruler - CTRL+R
Snap - CTRL+Shift+;
Lock Guides - CTRL+Alt+;
Help - f1

Photoshop File Management

Open Image - CTRL+O
Close Image - CTRL+W
Close All Images - CTRL+Shift+W
Browse - CTRL+Shift+O
New Image - CTRL+N
Save Image - CTRL+S
Save As - CTRL+Shift+S
Save For Web - CTRL+Shift+Alt+S
Page Setup - CTRL+Shift+P
Print with Preview - CTRL+P
Print - CTRL+Alt+P
Print one Copy - CTRL+Alt+P
Exit Photoshop - CTRL+Q

Layer Management

New Layer - CTRL+Shift+N
Layer Via Copy - CTRL+J
Layer Via Cut - CTRL+Shift+J
Group with Previous - CTRL+G
Un-group - CTRL+Shift+G
Merge Down - CTRL+E
Merge Linked - CTRL+Shift+E

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