Understanding the Photoshop Environment

These tutoriala hope to help people who are new to Photoshop understand the basics of the program, and how to use it in cleaning images for scanlation. They are very basic tutorials, so if you already have some experience in Photoshop, they may not be useful for you.

However, everyone has their own preference for how they want their photoshop to be set up, and there are many different versions of photoshop, so this guide cannot cater to everyone, nor be thoroughly comprehensive.

Thus, these guides will explain the environment of photoshop using the most recent version of Adobe Photoshop 2023 (as of July 2023). and I will endeavour to explain why the preferences are set the way they are, so that you can make your own decisions.

Opening an Image

When you first open Photoshop, you will see the Home screen.

From here we can set our preferences, create a new document, open an image, or view suggestions on tutorials or learning from Adobe.

For now, we’re going to open up a random image so we can easily explore the Photoshop Environment.

At first, everything will be overwhelming, but as you get used to Photoshop, things that were once nebulous and confusing will soon become second nature.

There are a number of options in how we open an image:

We can Drag and Drop an image directly into the drag and drop section of the home page to open it.

We can click on the “Open…” button on the Home screen to open the file explorer to select our image.

We can go to File > Open… to open the file explorer to select our image.

We can press Ctrl+O on Windows, or Option+O on Mac to open the file explorer and select our image.

Photoshop Menus: Main Menu and Tools

As with most programs, the menu in the top bar of Photoshop is called the Main Menu.

From here we can access a number of important options, including the creation, opening, and saving of files, the preferences of photoshop, image options, filters, renders, views, and so much more.

There are a lot of options, and most of them will not be relevant for cleaning and typsetting in photoshop, but you should take some time to explore what these options do, to learn little by little as you go.

The area in blue is the Document Window.

This the large area at the heart of photoshop where the main image is displayed. The visible area of the image is called the Canvas. The area surrounding the image is called the Pasteboard.

Below the Main Menu we will find the Tool Options.

This is where the specific options for each tool are located.

The Options for each tool are different, but at the end of this row we have three options:

  • To share the image.
  • To search adobe’s Discover for tips and tutorials.
  • To select the panels preset.

These are the default Tools, but almost all of the tools have alternative options which can be accessed by right clicking on the tool in the menu or by using shift+keybinding. More about the tools can be found in the Tool tutorial.

Photoshop Menus: The Image

Now that we’ve opened an image into photoshop we can fully explore all the menus.

The area in blue is the Document Window.

This the large area at the heart of photoshop where the main image is displayed. The visible area of the image is called the Canvas. The area surrounding the image is called the Pasteboard.

The area in blue is the Document Tab.

The tab contains information about the image. It has the Name and filetype of the document, it’s current zoom level, and currently selected Layer name.

When right clicking on the document tab we have a number of options for closing this/other tabs, arranging tabs, and opening documents.

In addition, we can drag the tabs to rearrange their order, or pull them out into their own window, arrange the tabs in splitscreen, tiled, or stacked… we have a lot of options in how the tabs are displayed by looking at the menu in Window > Arrange.

If we have a number of files open and there are too many tabs, there is a little button with “>>” at the end of the tab bar that creates a drop down list where we can select our images.

Photoshop Menus: Panels

Panels are located to the right of the screen. There are two columns of panels by default. The first panel is collapsed, and the second is expanded.

The panels contain information on the properties and characteristics of many things, from swatches of colour and patterns, to the input for adjustment layers and typesetting.

But by far, the most important panel in all of photoshop is the Layers panel.

To save screen space, many panels that have like functions are gathered together into “Tab Groups”

Switching between these groups is as easy as clicking on the tabs inside each panel area.

There are many different panels that can be activated and deactivated depending on your needs. For cleaning and typesetting many panels will not be necessary.

These panels can be activated from the Main Menu > Window.

The tab groups, the panels, and the panel icons can all be dragged around and rearranged to suit your preferences.

You can find out more about each panel in the Panels Tutorial.

Photoshop Menus: Misc

At the bottom of the photoshop window is the Status Bar.

This bar shows the Zoom level and status of the image. The default status displayed are the image dimensions.

Here, as well as within the options for the Zoom Tool, you can manually set the Zoom Level.

Mousing over and clicking on the status information will bring up some more detailed information about that status.

You can change which status information is showing by clicking on the small > to bring up the status item menu. 

A recent addition to Photoshop is the contextual task menu. 

This small, floating menu changes depending on the context of what you’re working on. It’s aim is to help speed up your workflow by providing quick access to the tools you’re most likely to use at that time.

It can be dragged around, pinned so it doesn’t move, docked to a panel, or hidden entirely if you don’t like it.

To show this menu, go to the main menu Window > Contextual Task Bar to toggle it on or off.

Thank you to the following staff for working on this guide: