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Getting Started in Photoshop

Photoshop’s interface can be a confusing place to first time users. This lesson will show you what’s what, and how to navigate through the behemoth which is Photoshop.

Before starting, please take note that I will be demonstrating how to use Adobe Photoshop with Version 9 (Adobe Photoshop CS2). If you are using another version of Photoshop, you should have very little trouble following along, as very little as changed in regards to interface and basic functionality in the past few versions. Some graphical features may look a bit different, but overall you should experience very little, if any problems!

The Welcome Screen

When you first open Photoshop, you’ll likely be presented with the “Welcome Screen”:

Welcome Screen

The Welcome Screen is a great area for new users to see what’s possible with Adobe Photoshop, but really isn’t necessary by any means. If you’d like to stop the Welcome Screen from popping up on the start, you can unmark the “Show this dialog at startup” in the lower left corner. The Welcome Screen will always be available for viewing later on if you go to Help > Welcome Screen.

To begin working with Photoshop, Close out of the Welcome Screen.

The Work Area

Upon first glance, Photoshop can be a big and scary place. Let’s break the Work Area into smaller components to make things easier to understand:

Work Area

A. Menu Bar – An organized menu area categorized by the type of task being handled.

B. Options Bar – Contains options for the currently selected tool.

C. Tool Bar – Contains a wide selection of available tools in Photoshop, as well as the Foreground Color, Background Color, and other features.

D. Document Window – The Containing Window of a document being worked on inside of Photoshop.

E. Active Image Area The Document Window contains the Active Image Area (Shown in White above). This is the area an artist works in.

F. Navigator – A small version of the current documents active image area. Used for navigating large images, or when zoomed in.

G. Color Palette – A palette used to select foreground and background colors for painting / drawing with.

H. History – Constantly updating record of previous changes made inside of a document. Can be used to reverse steps taken (Undo).

I. Layers – If Photoshop were a giant cheeseburger, layers would be the toppings & condiments. Layers in Photoshop allow you to work on a single canvas, letting some things appear above or below others.

This is just a glance of what the innards of Photoshop are like. We’ll cover everything in more detail in subsequent lessons.

Creating a New Document

To create a new document in Photoshop, select File > New from the Menu Bar.

A dialog box will appear such as the one shown below:

Create a new Document in Photoshop

A. Document Name – Set the document name here (optional).

B. Presets – Choose a document size from a list of presets.

C. Document Dimensions – Set the width and height of the document here.

D. Document Units – Set the units of the dimensions of the document. Pixels should be your typical choice for any work you’re displaying on the web or on a monitor.

E. Resolution – Set the Resolution of the document. Resolution typically means the number of dots (or pixels) per inch. In printing, you typically want a high value here (300 or higher), which will also increase the documents size. However, for web based work, or on-screen work, 72 is the default resolution.

F. Color Mode – Set the color mode of the document. Unless you are doing special printing, you typically will be working with RGB Color (Red/Green/Blue).

G. Background Contents – Set up the background for your document.

The dialog shown above would create an 800x600px document with a white background. The document name would be “Document Name”, and the resolution would be perfect for on-screen work.

Saving and Closing a Photoshop Document

To save a Photoshop Document, select File > Save from the Menu Bar. When saving, be sure to enter a file name you will recognize, and also select “Photoshop (*.PSD)” as the format. Doing so will ensure that the document will retain it’s Photoshop Document Attributes and Layer Data so that you may work with it later. Note that PSD’s are not compatible with web browsers or other applications, and you will need to save in another format for such uses. We will cover that in another lesson.

To close a document, select File > Close from the Menu Bar. To close all open documents, select File > Close All.

89 Comments

  1. Add point Subtract point
    Cozzy (-1 Points) October 14, 2010 at 8:43 am

    This is a very basic tutorial. what comes next?

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  2. Add point Subtract point
    AHHHHRAWR NONE YA (0 Points) September 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    AWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW BORRINGGG

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  3. Add point Subtract point
    Aaron Osborne (0 Points) September 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    this is not a good representation of what i was looking for. 5 stars

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  4. Add point Subtract point
    Dusmanta (0 Points) September 10, 2010 at 1:30 am

    i got from this tutorial what i wanted

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  5. Add point Subtract point
    sai ne lin tun (1 Point) July 15, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Special Thank For this tutorial but i want to learn basically.

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  6. Add point Subtract point
    srikanth (1 Point) June 9, 2010 at 2:27 am

    thanks for giving a clear view on photoshop basicks

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  7. Add point Subtract point
    ebenezer (2 Points) May 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

    i need to know how to larger photo size

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  8. Add point Subtract point
    Isabel Lam (1 Point) May 8, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for this tutorial.. :)

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  9. Add point Subtract point
    Web Design (1 Point) April 26, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Amazing tutorial thanks for sharing

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  10. Add point Subtract point
    Kaosblade (0 Points) April 24, 2010 at 11:49 am

    This is one of the best areas on the net for photoshop learners. It is actually very difficult to find something so useful for beginners. Thanks tut9. ;)

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  11. Add point Subtract point
    Jeremy (1 Point) April 19, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Come on, CS2, don’t let me laugh.

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  12. Add point Subtract point
    Kaushal (1 Point) April 12, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Thank you for the Tutorial David. I needed a Beginner’s guide badly :)

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  13. Add point Subtract point
    abanas (1 Point) April 6, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Thank you very much..

    This is what I’m looking for. I’ll be a good student :)

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  14. Add point Subtract point
    khushdeep kaur (1 Point) March 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    i am really unfamiliar with photoshop, but this website had helped me out to know much about photoshop . language used is extremely easy and understanding with basic concepts.

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  15. Add point Subtract point
    John Peter (1 Point) March 21, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Can’t believe there’s a site with a tutorial like this one! Thank You!!! HANDS ON PHOTOSHOP!! Thank you very MUCH!

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  16. Add point Subtract point

    Hey, this is a great tutorial, I mean the way you describe things and the pictures, they attract me to read them!

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  17. Add point Subtract point
    chrisatian (1 Point) February 27, 2010 at 2:07 am

    thanks for a great tutor

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  18. Add point Subtract point
    Prashant (1 Point) February 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I’m a developer, learning photoshop. For a newbie like me, it is of great help.
    Thank you so much

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  19. Add point Subtract point

    Ive been working with PS off and on for years, and though I do know most of these commands, its a great way to brush up before doing something new.

    Thanks, and Congratulations on such a great website.

    Hector C.

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  20. Add point Subtract point
    ฟังเพลง (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing133

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  21. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงใหม่ล่าสุด (1 Point) February 2, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing126

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  22. Add point Subtract point
    เพลงสากลใหม่ (1 Point) February 1, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Great reading! Thanks for sharing121

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  23. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงใหม่ฟรี (1 Point) January 30, 2010 at 10:43 am

    wow Great article, thanks!

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  24. Add point Subtract point
    โหลดเพลงฟรี (1 Point) January 28, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Great article. Thank you.

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  25. Add point Subtract point
    mike rosenthal (1 Point) January 25, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I am using Photoshop Elements 6.0 Is that sufficient to learn Photoshop as you teach it in your tutorials? Thanks for your reply.

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  26. Add point Subtract point
    sharlotte (1 Point) January 19, 2010 at 7:39 am

    amazing job
    i’m a photoshop’s beginner
    thanks for this great tutorial

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  27. Add point Subtract point
    Bikalpa Acharya (1 Point) January 10, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I have studied photoshop in many computer institutes, but now I come to know that those were not the good tutors. I am fascinated with this creator of such a good tutorial and I can get any idea about photoshop problems at any time. So thank you very much jentleman…………………………………………………..

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  28. Add point Subtract point
    Sue mccabe (1 Point) January 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Love that there is a tutorial photoshop program for free for people like me who are not in the business but want to learn how to use photoshop. YEA

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  29. Add point Subtract point

    i’m a student of this schoool !

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  30. Add point Subtract point

    Hi, this is a very nice tutorial. I am loving it as a fresher to photoshop.

    Do you have a downloadable version of this tutorial. If that is there it would be further more great !! :)

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  31. Add point Subtract point
    Chocolate (HERSHEY) (1 Point) October 21, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    I like cheese LOL :)

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  32. Add point Subtract point

    So far, this is the best find that I ever found in the web. Truly, I believe that i will learn photoshop in no time because of its’ simplicity yet detailed. Thanks a lot to you and more power.

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  33. Add point Subtract point

    Absolutely love the site! keep up the good work guys. Looking forward to learning alot from this site. I am new to blogging and web designing, just trying to find a way out… and my researches has found that blogging is very lucrative once you find the right niche. So far, tutorial9 has been an amazing source of resources. Once again. Thank you very much!

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  34. Add point Subtract point

    Yes you guys are really great you work for people May God bless you ever and Thank you very much! I had joined a course for Pohtosho learn but it’s not worth. I saw this tutorial teaching each and every little things. i never enjoied ps before but i would like to say i really enjoy this tutorial because this tutorial’s teaching a short and an easy way that makes me a fan of your hehehe really i fan of this site. once again thanks

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  35. Add point Subtract point
    Surjith Balan (1 Point) August 11, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Thank you very much sir, I have been looking for something like this for a long time. I was really happy when I found this site. Thank you for understanding the needs of a beginners.

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  36. Add point Subtract point
    Prashant Tidke (1 Point) July 31, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Thank you gentlemen for creating an extremely useful site to get a complete beginner of PhotoShop to learn everything in it in a very friendly way.

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  37. Add point Subtract point
    Luana (1 Point) July 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Thank you!!!
    All I know of Photoshop I had to figure out on my own, wich left me a thounsand doubts. You guys are great, you have cleared things out! Thank you, I learned more this few weeks then in all of the years I used Photoshop by myself!
    Thank you once more!
    Cheers from Brazil!

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  38. Add point Subtract point
    Doroteja (1 Point) July 22, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    It’s hard to believe, but finding a PS tutorial for a COMPLETE beginner on the net is a difficult job. I finally found this, and like the rest of the commenters would like to say a huge Thank You! This site is a wonderful resource for anyone and everyone who wants to learn.

    Flag as inappropriate
  39. Add point Subtract point
    Ibrahim (1 Point) July 18, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    . . .this is good, really good, i ve no formal training on PS, i happy i stumble into this here. thank you.
    greetings from Nigeria. please keep on the great work.
    i would really to learn more.
    i love photography.

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  40. Add point Subtract point
    Adrian Setyadi (1 Point) June 25, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Thank you for this tutorial!
    Now I know.

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  41. Add point Subtract point
    Faiz (1 Point) June 2, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Hi, thanks for this tutorial and that guide…

    I’m really appreciate that, because i’m really want to learn more about Photoshop. Thanks again.

    Flag as inappropriate
  42. Add point Subtract point
    huwaw69 (1 Point) May 3, 2009 at 4:54 am

    Wow very good guide… This is for newbs like me who are really first time users of photoshop

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  43. Add point Subtract point
    Julia (0 Points) April 28, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Wow! I have never seen a better idea then this. Im about pre school. I have been struggling for photoshop for a long time now. I get excited when I can make a picture into a circle. Thank you so much for these great tutorials.

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  44. Add point Subtract point

    One of my student’s photoshop canvas is cream and white is nowhere to be found! All of the settings say it is white but it is not. White shows up in Paint. Can you help?

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  45. Add point Subtract point
    bloob (1 Point) April 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    aah!! finally!! a idiots guide to photoshop.. and i say that vrey lightly meant..
    i’m new to photoshop.. >still on version 7.0.1< and after messing around and seeing alot of functions i have no idea on how to use started searching for tuts that even beginners can understand..(not as easy as it sounds)

    your site helps alot.. thanx!!

    keep up the gud work

    greetings from south africa :)

    Flag as inappropriate
  46. Add point Subtract point

    Hi, I have a problem with my Photoshop (CS2), and I need help. I’ve got it today and there’s something wrong with it. Everything that’s supposed to be white turned into some light cream color. I can’t even find white in the color palette. Even when I open an image, every part that’s supposed to be white turns into that cream color. But the thing is, when I make something (eg. text) it actually shows white when I open it with another software.
    I hope someone will answer soon with a solution.
    Thanks!
    By the way, this site is great, I’ve learnt a lot from it!

    Flag as inappropriate
  47. Add point Subtract point

    Wery good work Dave.
    With you simple tutorials i’m save lot of time on learning PhotoShop.
    Big thanks for that from Poland!
    Now i’m waiting for more Tut’s from you.

    Ps. Sorry for my english :).

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  48. Add point Subtract point
    Jamey Fields (1 Point) September 3, 2008 at 11:55 am

    I teach a continuing education class about graphic design, this site is totally going into my teaching strategy!

    Flag as inappropriate
  49. Add point Subtract point
    Felipe (1 Point) August 28, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    Nice work.
    Greeting from Brazil!

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  50. Add point Subtract point
    LV Perumal (1 Point) August 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I’m 67 yrs old retd telecomn.engr-Govt.of India.I’m learning PhotoshopCS2 thru free online tutorials.Your lessons & especially
    video lessons are great boon to me.Tks a lot.
    Regards.
    L.VARADARAJAPERUMAL(Tamilnadu-S/India).

    Flag as inappropriate
  51. Add point Subtract point
    Nishant Shrestha (0 Points) June 19, 2008 at 9:34 am

    First of all, Greetings from the country of Himalayas – Nepal !!

    I am not new to photoshop but I am a starter by my own . I do know litle things but the article gave me a full view. Its really nice and I really appreciate the work. Best of luck.

    Regards
    Nishant Shrestha
    CEO
    http://www.abironline.com
    Thamel Kathmandu
    Nepal

    Ph:+977-2191315/2387715
    Mobile: +977-9803005921

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  52. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks for all the kind words Rebecca! I’ve always noticed a problem with schools and their site blocks. This isn’t really the place for me to discuss my feelings about them, and I certainly see them playing some roles in schools, but truth be told, kids find ways around them no matter what you do.

    Anyways, I’m very happy to hear you consider Tutorial9 a valuable resource for your students, and hope that you’ll continue to send them our way in the future!

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  53. Add point Subtract point
    Rebecca Kov (1 Point) June 9, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    I can’t wait to get this site unblocked by my school! I teach high school art where photoshop is a necessity in our computer graphics program. Your site has been blocked because of the blogs which are a great way for my students to feel heard. Nonetheless, your comments are totally professional and kind. I truly appreciate your voice in teaching what I try to teach: always consider the source (your imagery, words, and descriptors are excellent) and “raise the bar” regarding your chosen words in order to be most effective. THANKS! rebecca

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  54. Add point Subtract point
    Mothership (1 Point) June 4, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Ok, still following.

    Onward and upward!

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  55. Add point Subtract point
    Mothership (1 Point) June 4, 2008 at 8:27 am

    David,

    these tutorials are great. There are many standalone tutorials on the internet with regard to specific projects, but none that I have come across that go through Photoshop step by step and help those of us who are PS newbies.

    Whilst our designers laugh at me, I shall succeed!

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  56. Add point Subtract point

    I’m very happy to know that these tutorials are helping you out! We’ve got a bunch of nice people around here, so if you ever run into trouble, feel free to ask your questions here or in our Community Forums!

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  57. Add point Subtract point
    Christopher Bush (1 Point) May 28, 2008 at 8:10 am

    I am new to everything Photoshop. I have a website I am launching soon and I cannot afford to keep paying designers. I think they are worth the money, but I just don’t have it to spend on every little design change. I have a back end shopping cart solution that will let me plugin designs and I need minimal changes here and there.

    I read through this first tutorial and look forward to others. THANK YOU SOOOOOO much for sharing your skills with the world. It takes a truly generous person to do so. You have no idea what a life changer this is for me.

    THANK YOU AGAIN.

    Broke for Now

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  58. Add point Subtract point
    Sphili (1 Point) May 19, 2008 at 6:55 am

    Thanks for the tutorials Dave. I only know the basics of using a computer, and I was rather appprehensive about attempting to use Photoshop to create a design for a competition I am planning to enter, but, from what I’ve read so far, I’m less worried about messing up. Thanks for taking the time to create these clear and easy-to-understand tutorials.

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  59. Add point Subtract point
    Erised (1 Point) May 16, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I thank you for doing this. I learned Photoshop in Job Corps, but I think that this is going to help me relearn the program, possibly even learn it better than before.

    Thank You Again!

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  60. Add point Subtract point

    You’re very welcome Melissa! Take time to experiment while you learn. I’ve always found playing around to be a great method for learning ;)

    Hope you stick around!

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  61. Add point Subtract point
    Melissa (1 Point) May 9, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Hi Dave,

    Im a fresh n00b around here (as recent as today)

    Before I spend the entire weekend reading through your tutorials, let me say thanks so much for the clear and generous way you are sharing your skills here. (also, for helping me FINALLY find a product that really eliminates dark circles under the eyes lol)

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  62. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks Krishna! To answer your question, all of the Photoshop Tutorials here can likely be followed in any recent versions of Photoshop. Throughout time, small parts of Photoshop have been changed, modified, and enhanced by Adobe, but most of the interface has always stayed the same ;)

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  63. Add point Subtract point
    Krishna (1 Point) May 3, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Thanks for taking the time to design this great tutorial but I wanted to know whether this tutorial could be followed in photoshop CS3 or even extended? It would help me out a lot.

    Thanks for the great and easy to understand tutorial, nonetheless.

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  64. Add point Subtract point

    Ryan, could you elaborate? I’m not sure I understand what you mean by that.

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  65. Add point Subtract point
    Ryan (1 Point) May 2, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Is there a way to make the grey area transparant? It would help when going through some of these tutorials, being able to see behind that.

    Many thanks

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  66. Add point Subtract point

    Thanks Becky! I’m happy to hear that you think our resources are of high enough quality to teach in a classroom environment. We plan on making our entire School of Photoshop Series easy to print out and distribute in such areas for people like you ;)

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  67. Add point Subtract point

    You’ve done a great job in this basic lesson. I teach photoshop to high school students and cobble together my own curriculum. I’m going to direct my student here for some of their lessons. It looks very good. Also, THANK YOU for having black print on a white background. I’m tired of struggling to read the tiny fonts and pale gray print on a white background. Everyone isn’t 21 w/ 20/20 vision!

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  68. Add point Subtract point

    actually really enjoyed reading this, im not new to these features in any way or form but its good to get an insight of what everything means :) very well written once again leggett

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