If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, then you’ve encountered Photoshop – many times. This is a raster graphics editor created in 1988, a full 28 years ago, by the brother-team of John and Thomas Knoll.
Raster graphics, otherwise known as bitmap images, are basically the dot matrix data structures which appear as the grids of pixels or color points that come together to form the images we view on our screens, on paper, or any other display. Since its inception, this image editor has grown to become the industry standard image editor in nearly every image-related industry. It has grown to be so dominant, in fact, that its name is commonly used a verb, as in ‘photoshopping’ an image, and so forth.
It’s incredibly versatile, with the capacity to support nearly all graphic file formats out there such as .jpg, .png, and more in such operations as the composition and editing of images into multiple layers, masking, alpha composite creation, and so on. It’s service utility is further expanded by the world of plug-ins – third party additions to the software that perform particular functions not included in the initial product – that have expanded its list of features exponentially.
It’s capabilities are not limited to images, contrary to popular assumption, as it can be made use of in text rendering, 3D graphics, vector graphics, as well as video. To get a better feel of just what it’s all about, let’s take a look at what exactly Photoshop can do.
1. Photo Editing
This is is it’s reason for being, ostensibly, and it does this better than most. It is in the name, after all. One remarkable point to note about this program is that it has maintained its dominance in this sector for so many years in a world where new software packages, some of them open source, are being launched every day. It’s a rare feat. With Photoshop, you have the ability to manipulate an image virtually any way you can imagine, pixel by pixel, until it looks just as you’d like it to.
Skilled editors can make it so that only fellow editors will notice that an image has been worked on. Should you want to add some contrast, enhance or change the colors, or crop an image, then you can go right ahead and do it. If you’re looking to spruce up an old family photo to make it look like it was taken last week, it’s within your reach.
Should you be in the mood to create an image of yourself being crushed underfoot by a giant version of your own self, the have at it, the tools are there, and we don’t judge. The basic point is, whatever the type of image manipulation you may think up, you can probably manage it here. There are competitors in the field, some of which are very good in their own ways, but none that quite match up.
2. Digital Painting
You may or may not be aware of this, but most of the book covers, paintings, cartoons and other artworks that you might run across online or in other digital media mediums aren’t created using a a paintbrush, canvas, and paint. For the most part, these will have been created either entirely on Photoshop or edited and touched up using the program to give it its desired finish.
You’ll even have pictures of the sort that grace the covers of your favorite magazines undergoing a session on the app to give them that gorgeous look that’s so hard to achieve naturally. With digital painting, you can achieve the very same type of effect you would get with traditional brush-in-hand techniques.
Couple this app with graphic tablets and you can draw and paint in a very natural way, using your hand, and the program will simulate the act of painting. You will even see colors blending to create new ones as you go along, just as they would should you have been applying oils on canvas.
There are a variety of effects at your disposal, from brushes, to spray paint, to felt markers and all in-between at hand within the application. It’s no big wonder that today’s artists prefer the program to more traditional methods. It’s simply more efficient, adaptable, and effective.
3. Graphic Design
Adobe, the developer that released Photoshop, has numerous graphic design-specific products out there such as Illustrator an InDesign, but they went ahead and incorporated many of their features into the program, making it an effective graphic design program in itself.
The Pen tool, for instance, is a basic tool to be found in nearly every Adobe application. For those who intend to do design work on a regular basis, it might be worth taking the time to learn how to use some of the more specialized apps, but for casual users who might only want to create the occasional poster, t-shirt, or business card design, this will be more than enough for their needs.
4. Video Editing
This surprises many people out there but Photoshop can come in pretty useful when it comes to working with videos. You can carry out a lot of the basic-level editing for small clips you might require. Of course, you won’t be producing anything for the Oscar Awards committee to take notice of, but it can do a decent job for your small projects.
It’s particularly useful if you want to convert regular videos you might have taken with your phone into black and white, high contrast, or other styles with the addition of layers, just as you would do if you were working with plain images.
5. Web Design
One of the best things you can do to make your web design process easier and more efficient is to create a mock up of what you would like the finished page to look like before beginning your programming. Any slight error correction or alteration you might have a mind to make is infinitely easier to accomplish in Photoshop than it would be if you were already in the middle of your HTML process. It can save you a great amount of time and frustration in the long run.