One of my favourite things about Photoshop is that there is always a learning curve, with new tips and tricks around the corner to discover and incorporate into your workflow to make it just that little bit more efficient. I've been using it nearly every day for the best part of 5 years and here are a few of my favourite tips and tricks that I couldn't do without!

As I write this I keep coming up with more and more, so this post may call for a part 2!

I had no idea this tool existed for years, but when I discovered it by accident it became a huge part of my retouching process, especially when using a Wacom tablet. It enables you to free rotate your canvas to whatever angle you please, and is different from Image > Image Rotation in that it's just for the sake of viewing in Photoshop and not a permanent rotation. I love it when I am retouching skin so that the image is at a more comfortable angle for the pen strokes I'm using. So useful! You'll find it by pressing R or by right-clicking on the Hand tool.

The [ and ] keys might be one of the more obvious shortcuts, but I use them constantly and even have them programmed into the buttons on my tablet. I can't imagine how I ever worked without them! Brush size shortcuts mean much quicker workflow as you're spending a whole lot less time faffing around with the brush palette, taking a guess as to which size you need to do the job at hand.

Occasionally (usually with self portraits), I like to stitch a series of images together to create an image with a beautiful, almost unreal and exaggerated depth of field. Although it doesn't always work, 90% of the time Photomerge (File > Automate > Photomerge) takes the work off of my hands by automatically identifying where the images overlap and it blends them all together beautifully, whilst I sit back and relax! Tip: If "auto" mode doesn't work or warps your image, try experimenting with the other modes (for me, "collage" nearly always works a treat).

(I love this technique so much I might do a video tutorial covering the shooting and retouching of it in the future.. just have to build up a bit of courage to get myself talking on camera! Eek.)

I use this one so much that it took me a while to remember that I even use it - it's just like second nature! Press the F key to cycle through Photoshop's view modes: Standard Screen Mode, Full Screen with Menu, and Full Screen. Working against a neutral colour background on one of the full screen modes means your judgement is not skewed by the colours of that family photo or crazy space nebula you have as your desktop background, and you are able to pan across the image more easily with the space bar.

This one is invaluable in making sure your images look good, no matter where they are viewed. If you are viewing in any of the full screen modes, right click outside of your image on the background and you can choose what colour you want the workspace to be: Black, Dark Gray, Medium Gray, Light Gray, and Custom. I set Custom to white, and that way I can see how my images will look no matter how they are displayed.

I'm always up for learning something new so tell me.. what are your favourite Photoshop tips and tricks?

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