Fun Photoshop Assignments For Beginners

Opening Photoshop for the first time can be scary. It’s hard to tell if the program is open or not. And why are there 5,000 different buttons that all seem to do the same thing? Photoshop can feel like a very foreign place to any newcomer. So how do you deal with 30 students using it for the very first time? It is overwhelming and exhausting, but if you do it right, it will be incredibly exciting for your kids!

If you’re new to using Photoshop or teach a digital art class and don’t know where to start, check out these three projects anyone can teach!

Project #1: Hamburger and Food Layers

Art teachers who teach digital classes often wonder what they should do on the first days of class. My advice is to dive right into your content. If you know your class is going to be using Photoshop frequently, get started right away! This first project is a two-in-one exploration of Photoshop, perfect for starting off a new class.

Most digital art teachers flip their instruction to some extent, which optimizes learning in this type of setting. Check out this video to see the flipped instruction. The learning objective of this project is to enable students to understand the concept of layers. They learn to understand this visually by creating a hamburger from the bottom up. Each layer of the hamburger introduces a new tool. Here are the Photoshop tools this project can introduce:

  • Brush Tool
  • Mixer Brush Tool
  • Paint Bucket Tool
  • Shape Tool

To take this a step further and to scaffold newly learned skills, have your students create independently. You can do this by extending the lesson and having students create their own food consisting of six to eight layers. To add an element of fun, introduce your students to the gradient tool to create an interesting background! Students can practice skills, have fun, and gain confidence.

Project #2: 3D Forms

This project puts a digital spin on a traditional concept. Unfortunately, I do not have enough digital drawing tablets for each student. That means students must learn how to manipulate and learn how to draw with a mouse. The intention of this project is to familiarize students with computer-based digital drawing techniques.
In addition to the tools used in the food layers project, these Photoshop concepts are introduced in this project:

  • Merging Layers
  • Duplicating Layers
  • Opacity
  • Marquee Tool

Using the shape and line tool, students will create 2D shapes. By determining a clear light source and reviewing the use of the mixer brush tool, students will turn their objects into 3D forms. This will give students a sense of creating a digital painting. Encourage your students to think outside the box by turning their forms into identifiable objects! You’ll find that students will start exploring on their own to add some finishing details.

Project #3: Pop Art Portraits

This Warhol-inspired lesson is a simple, yet engaging project your students will love! It allows them to explore new tools while incorporating pop culture into their projects. Here are the Photoshop concepts that will be introduced in this project:

  • Quick Selection Tool
  • Magic Wand Tool
  • Inverse Editing
  • Filters

To begin this project, students will simply need to find an image of a person. This lesson will allow students to explore more of the photo manipulation side of Photoshop while introducing a few more basic tools. Since a project like this has several steps, you may want to consider flipping instruction in a video similar to this.

There is no need to be afraid of Photoshop. Start your students with these three beginning projects and you’ll be amazed at what they start to create!

What are your favorite beginning Photoshop projects?
What is the hardest part about using Photoshop with your students?

Love it or hate it, Photoshop continues to be the design software of choice for millions of designers across the globe for a wide range of tasks, from photo editing to graphic design, typography, illustration, 3D modelling and animation. It's continually being updated – which means at some point you'll need a Photoshop tutorial to teach you a new tool, technique or effect.

That's where we come in. Here, we round up the very best Photoshop tutorials from around the web covering all of these areas and more – at all levels, and whether you're rocking Photoshop CC or using an older software version.

And to save you from unnecessary confusion, we've organised these video tutorials and written step-by-step tutorials and guides to suit your level of Photoshop skills. Choose your difficulty level – beginner, intermediate or advanced – from the dropdown menu above and get started...

Photoshop tutorials for beginners: tools

01. How to use the Custom Shape Tool

This Photoshop tutorial introduces the Custom Shape Tool. You’ll learn everything you need to know to start adding custom shapes to your designs and layouts – including how to use various settings such as Fill, Stroke and more – in less than three minutes. 

02. How to use the Dodge Tool

This Photoshop tutorial introduces the Dodge tool. You'll learn how to selectively lighten areas of an image. Learn about brush options, Range, and Exposure. Brighten eyes, pick out details, and much more.

03. How to use the Burn Tool

One of our Photoshop tutorials, hosted on the Creative Bloq YouTube channel, introduces the Burn tool. In this easy-to-follow video, discover how to selectively darken areas of an image, with an overview of settings and tips on working with Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. 

04. How to use Photoshop's Image Sizing tool

Being able to manipulate bitmaps enables you to create a virtually unlimited array of effects. In this tutorial, we run through how to get the best out of the Image Sizing tool in Photoshop CC.

05. Get creative with Face-Aware Liquify

The latest version of Photoshop CC's Liquify tool has some powerful facial recognition skills, enabling it to detect areas of the face, such as the eyes, mouth, nose and overall face shape, so you can adjust and warp them with impunity. 

In this Face-Aware Liquify tutorial, T3 art editor Luke O'Neill, explains how to get the most of it, from simple adjustments to crazy facial distortions.

06. How to use Photoshop layers: 6 top tips

Learning to use Photoshop's layer system is key to unlocking the software's versatility. In the same way that traditional animators use several sheets of acetate in a single shot, painting different parts of your picture on different layers means they can be edited separately while still being viewable as a whole. 

In this Photoshop tutorial, you’ll find out how to everything from create layers to locking them, grouping them and adjusting opacity. 

Now watch:5 new ways of working with Photoshop layers

07. How to use Photoshop layer masks

The helpful layer mask tips in this Photoshop tutorial will help you streamline your digital art workflow. As any Photoshop beginner will quickly learn, layer masks are one of the most fundamental parts of the software: without them your work will look flat. Follow these seven tips and shortcuts to work more quickly and easily with layer masks. 

08. How to use the Colour Replacement Tool

Another of our YouTube Photoshop tutorials, this short video introduces the Color Replacement Tool, which lets you paint roughly over an area of an image. Discover how to replace colours based on Hue, Saturation, Colour and Luminosity.

09. How to use the Content-Aware Move Tool

This Photoshop tutorial introduces the Content-Aware Move Tool, which lets you select pixels and move or extend them to another area of your image without the use of layers and masks.

In the easy-to-follow video, we reveal how Photoshop can analyse pixels and heal unwanted portions within an image.

Photoshop tutorials for beginners: techniques

10. Make quick selections in Photoshop

The ability to perform simple cut-outs and masking tasks is a basic requirement of any designer, and often forms the backbone of any Photoshop work that you may undertake. 

In this step-by-step Photoshop tutorial we run through three basic techniques for creating simple selections, and then cover the layer mask options and how they work a little more in depth.

11. How to customise animated GIFs in Photoshop

Animated GIFs are a great way to make your designs more eye-catching. With Photoshop, you can customise any animated GIF to fit the style of your project.

This tutorial runs through three methods of customising animated GIFs in Photoshop,  using adjustment layers, blending options and a more time-consuming – but flexible – frame-by-frame technique. 

12. Reduce camera shake in Photoshop CC

As a photographer, it's inevitable that you will wind up with the occasional blurry image. Fortunately, in Photoshop CC, Adobe has a special 'Camera Shake Reduction' filter to help you repair these images. Follow this Photoshop tutorial to find out how to repair your images in six easy steps. 

13. Age a photograph in Photoshop CC

Ageing a photograph in Photoshop is a classic technique that can turn even a ho-hum, full colour image into something striking. If your design work requires a vintage look, replicating the look of a distressed old photo digitally can work wonders. 

However, it’s more than merely converting a photograph to sepia tones and calling it a day. In this article, we explore how to age a photograph using the duotone technique.

14. Transform a pencil sketch in Photoshop

Colourising a scanned hand-drawn pencil sketch to get rid of the black lines can save an artist lots of work and aggravation. Dark, black lines are hard to paint over while maintaining the sketch. Thankfully, there's an easy way to colour and soften those black lines using Photoshop – this tutorial shows you how.

15. Turn day into night in Photoshop

Turning this daytime scene into night was inspired by the superb effects work in Lars von Trier's film Melancholia. Shooting landscapes at night can present all sorts of challenges – and even more so if you were shooting a moving image and couldn't use long exposures.

In this tutorial, Ben Secret shows you how to use Curves layers to control your tones and turn day into night.

16. Make a poster from a template in Photoshop

This handy Photoshop tutorial from Adobe will show you how to make a poster from a template in less than 60 seconds. Whether you're a beginner or just want a (very) quick refresher, this walkthrough will have you designing posters faster than ever.

17. Turn photos into simple caricatures

Master Photoshop's Free Transform tool with this tutorial, and use it to warp portraits of your subjects into comical caricatures. Making these cartoon-like photos is a great way to get creative, and will help you become more familiar with the Free Transform tool.

18. Digital painting with Photoshop CC for beginners

If you can work on a canvas with paints, then many of the same painting techniques you use will transfer directly over to digitally painting in Photoshop. Core principles such as composition, colour theory and perspective still apply. This Photoshop tutorial for beginners breaks down the process of creating a simple digital painting, from start to finish.

19. Add frames to photos using Photoshop and Lightroom

Using a combination of Photoshop and Lightroom, here you'll discover a few ways to add frames and borders around your photos. The workflow includes using tools such as Photoshop blend modes, custom brushes and layer styles.

20. Make a pure white background in Photoshop

In this easy-to-follow tutorial, the team at Phlearn show you how to create a perfect white backdrop without losing too much detail in your images.

21. Colourise a black and white photo

Designer Ben Secret show how to take control of your image colouring with Photoshop's Color Balance tool.

22. Working with video in Photoshop

While Photoshop is best known as a photo editor, it also includes some powerful video editing tools. In this short, simple tutorial, learn how to use the timeline panel to apply smart filters and adjustment layers to your videos.

23. Remove skin blemishes with the Spot Healing brush

Everyone wants to look their best and in this tutorial you'll be able to do just that. You'll learn how to remove any skin blemishes, acne or any other problems to create the perfect image.

24. Quickly select skin tones

If you want to know about the Skin Aware technology in CS6 then this is the tutorial for you. Learn how to quickly select skin tones and get to grips with this awesome feature.

25. How to change eye colour in Photoshop CS6

Check out this quick two-minute tutorial, which will show you how to change a subject's eye colour.

26. Take care of fly-away hairs

This super time saving tutorial will teach you how to get rid of stray and fly-away hairs using the dust and scratches filters.

27. Change hair colour in Photoshop CS6

Here, you'll discover how to use the new tools of Photoshop CS6 to change any hair colour. From blonde to red and brown to green, the choices are endless!

28. Use Photoshop Actions to apply multiple effects

We show you how to record a series of edits as an Action that can be quickly applied to images, as we create a cool retro effect in Photoshop CS6.

Photoshop tutorials for beginners: effects

29. Create a kaleidoscope effect in Photoshop

Amber Grayson reveals how to combine handmade and digital elements to create a kaleidoscope effect in Photoshop.

30. Add a bokeh effect to your images

Create out-of-focus highlights from scratch with a little help from Photoshop CS6's new time-saving shortcuts, in this easy to follow, four-step tutorial.

31. Get the toy camera look

Combine a number of different simple but effective techniques to imitate the retro, lo-fi toy camera look, using simulated light leakage and a vignette in Photoshop.

32. Make your own pop art portrait

Convert a bland portrait into a pop art masterpiece to get creative and enliven your forgettable shots. For this tutorial, we'll be using Photoshop filters, selection tools, Adjustment Layers and Layer Masks, and the Hue/Saturation command.

33. Recreate a fish-eye effect

Give images the super-distorted fish-eye treatment, then crop and add text to get the look of an iconic album cover.

34. Apply a quick vintage look in Photoshop

Use Photoshop CS6's Color Lookup feature to change colours within an image, in four simple steps.

35. Create tilt shift photography

Tilt-shift photography refers to the use of camera movements on small and medium format cameras. The guys at animhut show you how to re-create this effect using Photoshop CS6.

36. Add dramatic rain to a photo in Photoshop

Tony Aube demonstrates how to add a dramatic rain effect to a photo in Photoshop, then goes a step further and shows how to make the image more photorealistic by adding reflections and small puddles.

37. Create a repeating pattern in Photoshop

Here we'll show you how to create a single 'tile' for a repeating pattern for the stripes; then you can fill as big or as small an area as you like with it...

38. Create an easy abstract blur pattern design

Spoon Graphics demonstrates how to make a cool geometric gradient pattern using Photoshop and a bit of Illustrator.

39. Create a fast and simple Instagram effect

Don't have a smartphone but long to create those vintage Instagram effects on your photos? This simple and quick tutorial will show what effects to add to accomplish an easy 'Instagram look'.

40. Add a colour splash effect

Want to mix black and white imagery with a bit of colour? This three-minute tutorial will show you exactly how to isolate a specific colour in your photos.

Feeling more confident? Head to the next page for some intermediate-level Photoshop tutorials.

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