• 15 Photshop Keyboard Shortcuts Worth Learning – Getting Shit Done

    by  • October 10, 2016 • Getting Shit Done

    If you are like me, you spend 37 hours a day retouching (I'm 114% sure that isn't an exaggeration). And if you are like me, you like to go fast and use all the photoshop keyboard shortcuts you can find.

    Which probably means you have googled Photoshop Keyboard Shortcuts and then fell into the bottomless pit of nonsense keystrokes that are useless for photographers and convoluted and impossible to remember. You can put your 3-feet long cheat sheet away, because I have a short list of photoshop keyboard shortcuts that are actually worth learning, and will keep your fingers flying. This is FAR from a full list, and doesn't include the basics (copy, paste, select, save) that you should already know. These are the shortcuts I use on every single image, and fit well into a portrait retouching workflow.


    Pan:  Spacebar
    This is a good one that is way underused. Just hold the spacebar down, click and drag your image around. Scrolling be damned.

    Zoom Incrementally:  ⌘++  and ⌘+-  |  Ctrl++ and Ctrl+-
    This will let you zoom in and out in steps - 50%, 66.7%, 100%, 200%, and so on.

    Zoom Fit:  ⌘+0  |  Ctrl+0
    Cmd/Ctrl zero will fit the image to the screen, allowing you to see the entire thing, filling as much visible area as possible.

    Zoom Custom:  Opt+Space+Drag  |  Alt+Space+Drag
    When you need a custom zoom amount (because jumping between 100% and 200% is rarely helpful), this shortcut will let you control the zoom amount. Drag up to zoom out and down to zoom in. You can also use Z for the zoom tool, but the Opt+Space+Drag seems to work more smoothly, and is keys I already and pressing all the time.

    Liquify:  Shift+⌘+X  |  Shift+Ctrl+X
    If you are using is so often, there is no sense in going to the menu each time.

    Healing:  J
    J will get you to the last healing brush you used. Hold shift at the same time to cycle through all of the healing tools.

    Brush:  B
    Your brush tool. If you are a Frequency Separation user, this is a simple but handy one.

    Multi-step Undo:  Opt+⌘+Z  |  Ctrl+Alt+Z
    This is a super useful shortcut that will keep you from going back and forth over the last thing you do. Use this combo to step back through time as many steps as you need.

    Opacity Change:  Numbers 0-9
    This works on layers as well as brushes. 05=5%, 1=10, 2=20, etc, 0=100. You can also press 75 for 75%.

    Flow Change:  Shift+Numbers 0-9
    Works exactly the same as the opacity change for your brushes.

    Rotate:  R
    Game changer. Hit R, and drag your image around until you like the layout. This only affects the view of the image, not the actual canvas. If you are editing the face of someone laying down, this will save you from craning your neck to the side. Hit R then Esc to pop it back to normal.

    Jump to Top Layer:  Opt+.  |  Alt+.
    When you need to start a new action group, merge down, or whatever else you crazy kids are doing to your layers these days, this will take you straight to the top layer.

     Brush Color When Masking:  X
    When you are masking and goof, just hit x to swap between the black and white brush.

    Stamp Visible:  Shift+⌘+Opt+E  |  Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E
    Say hello to your new best friend. When you are done making some changes, instead of merging your layers or flattening, trying stamping visible from the top layer. This will create a new layer containing all of the previous layers merged together, but keeps those layers visible. Sorcery, you say? Or more likely, Whaaaaat? Basically you are creating a snapshot of your work while getting a clean and merged layer to work on. Any adjustments made on the lower layers won't appear (snapshot, you see?), but the benefit is if you screw up, forgot to do something, or just want to rework a previous layer, all you have to do is delete your snapshot and they are available to you still. This is particularly useful after using frequency separation, or any other complex group of layers.

    Flatten:  ⌘F
    Okay, just kidding, there isn't a keyboard shortcut for flattening that I liked, so I made my own, and you should too. To do that, go to Edit>Keyboard Shortcuts. Scroll down to the Layers Section, and then scroll some more until you see Flatten. Click on Flatten, enter your new shortcut, and then Accept. If whatever you choose is already assigned to something else, a warning will popup. I use Flatten on every single image, so ⌘+F makes sense to me, and is quick and easy. You do you.


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    Jen Swedhin is a Denver-based photographer specializing in intimate male portraiture at Jen Swedhin Photography. She also owns a professional boudoir retouching and virtual assistant business, Jen Gets Shit Done. Jen is a workflow ninja.