What is it?

Adobe’s Photoshop is one of the most popular image-editing applications for professionals, available for both Macintosh and Windows. Images are imported from a scanner or opened from an existing file. They can then be cropped, color balanced, reduced/enlarged, lightened/darkened, repaired, combined and more. Text, lines, shapes and (with a pressure-sensitive drawing tablet) hand-drawn pictures can be added to images. Edited images can be exported for the Web, video or print.

There are two major types of Photoshop software. Photoshop CS3 versions are aimed at professionals and include advanced filters and color controls mainly used in large-scale print or multimedia projects. Photoshop Elements is a less expensive, scaled-down version aimed at home and hobbyist users and includes all of the features most commonly used for the Web or in presentation programs. The interface for both versions is identical; Elements includes helpful tutorials for many common tasks, particularly those useful in editing digital photos.

Key features
  • Quick fixes for common problems with digital photos
  • Tools to crop, resize, rotate and reformat images
  • A variety of effects and filters to simulate photography and painting techniques
  • Export to a variety of common graphic formats
Who uses it?

Photoshop Elements is used by many home and educational users for a range of basic imaging editing tasks, including preparation of graphics for Web pages and retouching of digital photographs and other image files. Photoshop CS is used widely by professional photographers, graphic designers, Web designers and others who work extensively with photographs and images and need sophisticated tools to manipulate them.

How does it work?

When you open Photoshop, you create a Photoshop document (PSD file) in which you do your work. You can manipulate an existing image, bring in an image directly from a scanner connected to your computer or use the built-in text and drawing tools to create an image from within Photoshop.

The Photoshop interface has a toolbar with a selection of tools for specific actions. For example, the “lasso” tool is for highlighting an area and the textbox is for adding text. Actual manipulation of the image, such as adjusting contrast or skewing an area of an image, is accomplished by selecting items from the menu bar or through simple keyboard shortcuts. When you are finished, you can save the image in Photoshop’s native PSD format to preserve layers, color controls and other information. Or you can export the image in standard formats, such as TIFF, GIF or JPEG for use in Web pages or other types of documents. When choosing some formats, you will be presented with a wizard or control screen that allows you to set options for the saved version of the images, such as the color depth and amount of compression.

Things to consider before using Photoshop

  • If you are more interested in creating original drawings, a vector-based graphics program, such as Freehand, would be more appropriate than Photoshop. That’s because Photoshop produces pixel-based images that appear grainy when greatly enlarged; vector-based images don’t have this limitation.
  • If your needs are more basic, Photoshop might be a less appropriate option than other applications that have photo-manipulation capabilities such as Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, iPhoto, Pages, etc. Discuss your needs with a member of Instructional Technology before you begin and they can advise you in your choice of software.

Uses as an Instructional Technology

Manipulation of images to illustrate course concepts
  • Instructors can use Photoshop to manipulate images during class discussion to highlight concepts or ideas visually, such as the composition of a photograph or the choice of color in a painting that is representative of a particular phase of an artist’s career.
As a tool to explore graphic design and documentary issues
  • Instructors can use Photoshop features in class to demonstrate photographic techniques to students.
  • Students can manipulate images as part of class discussions on image authenticity.
  • Photoshop-type tools and features are an important part of getting students to understand the basics of graphic design and layout for publishing to the Web.
Resizing digital photos for classroom display and for use in course Web spaces
  • The files created by digital still cameras are usually too large in height and width to be used effectively in course Web spaces like woodle. Photoshop (Elements) can be used to resize these images so they will display properly in the Web browser for these tools.
  • Photoshop can be used to format images so they will display properly on an iPod, which can then be used to connect to a classroom projection system to display images to a class.

Resources at Wooster

  • Photoshop is available for use in the Taylor 205 Lab.
  • Instructional Technology provides basic instruction and support for Photoshop.

The content on this page was derived from webpages maintained by the Duke University Center for Instructional Technology