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If you find yourself doing design as part of your job but it wasn’t something you thought you would see yourself doing, there is a pretty good chance that you have a lot of additional learning to do. One of the primary tools of all designers is Adobe Photoshop. If you have stepped into that program without any formal education, it can be massively intimidating. I would also guess that you have had to learn on the fly using tutorials you found online or the help files built into Photoshop.
What this post is about is trying a new method of learning, a method that I have used that has worked out well for me over the years of my career. With the intimidating quantity of tools and options in Photoshop, it is important you just get in there and try stuff. Take some time when you are not pressed with a deadline, open a file and just play! Over the course of a month take on menu option from the top and just go through each item underneath and get a sense of what each item does. The key to understanding why you may be intimidated by Photoshop is simply because it is unfamiliar. There is always discomfort or fear with things that are unfamiliar to us. So take the time to make it familiar and you will begin to enjoy it.
Lastly, what is more important than being comfortable with the software, is knowing the software so your work is not limited to what you may or may not know how to do. I know earlier in my career that was one of the things I was guilty of. I would let the course of a design be limited to what I knew I could do. I don’t think that is a very honest way to work and likely it’s not the best thing for the brands you work on either.
So I encourage you to take some time when you’re not under a deadline to learn some new things about Photoshop. Just learn one menu per month and by the end of 2012 you will be well on your way to being self-sufficient.
Here is a timeline to help you on your way:
January: File Menu (Learn about importing, exporting and file/document management) February: Edit (Learn about some basic editing, transforming objects, fills and strokes) March: Play and reinforce what you learned in Jan./Feb. April: Image (Learn about image/canvas resizing, cropping and image adjustment techniques) May: Layer (Learn about the way to manage layers and apply layer styles and adjustments) June: Play and reinforce what you learned in Apr./May. July: Select (Learn about different ways to apply and manipulate selections) August: Filter (Learn about what all the different filters do) September: Play and reinforce what you learned in Jun./Aug. October: Play and reinforce what you learned in Jun./Aug. November: Analysis & View (Analysis is a small menu, not much there. View is about managing your work area) December: Window (Contains more workspace management and all the tool panels)