Malhamdale from Malham Cove

Photoshop Shortcuts

Here’s another quick Photoshop tip if you’re busy processing your archive images during the lockdown!  Hopefully by now you’ll have streamlined your workflow with a few Photoshop Actions but these shortcuts should speed things up a even more…

Malham Cove image in Photoshop with Layers palette open
Malham Cove image in Photoshop with Layers palette open

One of the things which becomes clear from our post-processing sessions (I hope!) is how important the burn and dodge layer and layer masks are in processing your images, particularly when faced with an image which has a vast difference in brightness between the foreground and the sky.

So with your target layer or layer mask selected you’ll very often be using the brush tool to mask or burn/dodge a particular area of the image which means adjusting the brush size and opacity and switching often between black and white foreground colours.

Adjusting the Brush Size

The first shortcut to speed this you’ll already know about if you’ve been on a post-processing session as Sam always mentions that you can adjust the size of the brush by using the square bracket keys [ and ] to make the brush smaller and larger respectively.  You can also right click and adjust the size with a slider but the brackets tend to be a quicker option!

Switching the Foreground and Background Colours

Next, and particularly on a burn and dodge layer, you’ll want to switch between a black brush (burn) and a white brush (dodge) quite often.

Switch Foreground and Background ColoursThis can be done by clicking the little two way curved arrow in the toolbar indicated in the inset image here.  (Don’t forget that the smaller white and black boxes icon next to the arrow can be used to reset the foreground and background colours to black and white if they’re set to something else).

But you don’t even need to click to switch the colours – just hit the X key as you’re painting on your layer and this will toggle the foreground and background colours for you!

Setting the Brush Opacity

Finally, you’ll need to adjust the opacity of your brush quite a lot. Generally we start off at around 20% for burning and dodging, but you’ll probably want it up to 100% for painting on a mask.

Opacity Adjustment in PhotoshopNormally you’ll do this by hitting the opacity box in the top toolbar when you have the brush tool selected (shortcut B) and then using the slider to get to the opacity you want.  But instead of that, you can just type a number!  So to go to 100% opacity type 100.  But it’s even better than that, because if you want to go to a multiple of 10% you just type a single digit.

So for 20% opacity just hit the 2 key, for 30% hit the 3 key and so on.  This one can save lots of time when you’re messing about with masks!

Happy (faster) processing!




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