11 Photoshop Skills for Creative Professionals

By Indeed Editorial Team

May 6, 2021

Photoshop is a useful application to enhance a photo and apply creative touches. The software includes several tools that perform different tasks, such as boosting the vibrance of colors and adding special effects. If you want to learn how to manipulate images, then understanding the features of this program may be beneficial. In this article, we discuss 11 Photoshop skills and steps to help you develop them for your next artistic endeavor.

Who uses Photoshop skills?

As a tool from Adobe Creative Cloud, Photoshop is an application that enables professionals to edit images. Employers may require job candidates to be proficient in photo editing to complete their occupational duties. Examples of jobs that use the program include:

  • Photographer: After they capture pictures for their photoshoots, photographers may use Photoshop to enhance the color on the images or apply filters. Clients may request photographers to make specific edits to their photos as well.

  • Social media manager: Social media managers oversee the publication of images on online platforms, and they may use photo editing tools to ensure the images match the client's professional brand.

  • Graphic designer: Graphic designers may add text and clip art to images, and they use the software to save and distribute their work for social media, websites and videos.

  • Web developer: Web developers may use the imaging application to develop graphics for websites, which can complement the interface and appeal to users.

Read more: 51 Jobs With Photoshop

Top Photoshop skills

Creative professionals may use the following photo editing techniques:

Brightness and contrast

As a fundamental skill, the brightness and contrast feature manipulates the lightness and darkness of the image. For instance, if you take a photo in a dark room, you can increase the brightness to make the photo appear brighter. If you take a picture in sunlight, you can increase the contrast to reduce the glare of the sun and add more focus to objects in the image.


Cropping is another basic ability for photo editing. The tool can remove elements from the frame. For instance, if you have a wide shot, you can crop the photo to focus on the objects in the center or on the left or right side of the picture.

Related: Key Photo Editing Job Responsibilities and Skills


The saturation feature adds hue to colors in a photo. For example, if you take a shot of the beach, you can increase the saturation to make the ocean appear more blue and the sand more golden. For photos of people, saturation can be useful for enhancing the shade of their complexions.


The sharpening tool defines the fine lines and edges of an image and adds clarity. It can be useful if a photo is blurry because it increases the contrast, allowing greater focus on the object in the photo. Sharpening an image can make it appear grainy and hard to view, so consider adjusting the value of the tool so that you can sharpen it gradually.


Instead of changing the entire image at once, you can use the layering tool to target particular elements. For example, you might add a top layer to the photo, increase the contrast and then add another layer with text. The software allows you to organize your layers into groups, where you can remove them or adjust the changes at your leisure.


Typography is the art of adding text to images, which can capture the viewer's interest and provide more information about the photo. For a promotional graphic for an event, for instance, designers may use typography to write the event's date, time and location. The typography feature allows you to change the color, size and font of the text, and you can place the words on a specific spot on the image.

Pen tool

By clicking on the pen tool, artists can produce digital sketches on their work. Types of pen tools within the software, including:

  • Standard: You can draw straight and curvy lines precisely.

  • Free-form: By drawing freehand, your work can appear as if you're drawing using a pen on paper.

  • Magnetic: The edges of your images connect to the segments you draw.

  • Curvature: Customize your segments or add definition to the edges of the photo.

Healing brush

As a retouching feature, the healing brush removes small objects from the image, such as blemishes and scratches on the skin. It allows you to take samples of an area and apply them to the area you want to withdraw, where you can correct the imperfections without disrupting the rest of the image. Suppose you take a photo and you notice a small pimple on your face, for example. With the healing brush, you can sample other areas of your skin and paste the pixels onto the pimple, retouching it out of the photo.


Consider evaluating the tones of your image by viewing the histogram, a graph that illustrates the brightness and contrast levels that may not be visible to the naked eye. You can edit your photo to enhance its composition according to the values on the histogram, which also include highlights, shadows and the image's overall exposure.


As an advanced feature, the curves tool modifies the colors and tones of an image. Maneuver the icon to lighten or darken the highlights and shadows on the photo or emphasize the colors of specific elements. You can also use curves to increase contrast and saturation.


As you revise your creations, it's important to know how to save and share your work for future use. Here are essential organization tips for using the imaging program:

  • Controlling the panels: There are multiple panels on the interface that organize the edits you make to an image. For example, you can select a layer and make changes using the layers panel, or you can view a previous change you made by accessing the history panel.

  • Exporting files: Once you save your files, you can export them into different formats, such as JPEG. Exportation can be useful if your colleague or employer has a format preference for receiving your work.

  • Adding names and color-coding: Naming your groups and conventions can make it easier for your colleagues to see the progress and elements of your work. You can also add specific colors to your layers to signify the editing technique you used.

Related: 10 Types of Image File Formats

How to improve Photoshop skills

If you're interested in enhancing your photo editing abilities, consider following these steps:

1. Practice using the software

Consistent practice navigating the software can enable you to become more familiar with its features and better at using them. Upload an image to the interface and start with the fundamentals, such as cropping or manipulating brightness and contrast. Click on each of the features to discover their purpose and how to use them. You can also practice saving your work in a folder on your computer to keep track of your progress.

Related: 10 Best Adobe Illustrator Alternatives of 2021

2. Watch tutorials

Tutorials offer step-by-step guides on how to use the program. Search for tutorials that provide teachings on the skills you want to master. For example, if you want to learn how to crop bystanders out of a photo, you can find videos that discuss the healing brush at an advanced level. If you're a beginner photo editor, then it may be helpful to begin with tutorials that teach you the basics before progressing to specialized tutorials as you become stronger at your craft.

3. Subscribe to blogs

Blog posts can be beneficial subscriptions if you prefer to read instructions, and they can offer updates on the software and how the creative industry uses it. For instance, if you're a graphic designer or social media specialist, you may subscribe to a blog that states how consumers respond to certain images on online platforms and how to master the program to follow artistic trends.

4. Join online groups

By joining online groups, you can build relationships with professionals and learn tips on using the photo editing software. Consider finding a group that holds the same profession as you, which can help you learn how to optimize the application for your professional gain. For example, if you're a web developer, join a group of other photo editing web developers. The group may also welcome members to submit their work and receive constructive criticism.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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