10 seriously useful Adobe Photoshop tutorials

Improve dull stock images, create striking portraits and more

East meets West

Our colleagues over on Computer Arts magazine have been handing down Photoshop wisdom for over a decade.

Their website is a mine of information and not just for Photoshop tips, but for llustrator, InDesign, web design apps and much more.

We've had a poke around and chosen 10 of our favourite Photoshop tutorials. You can download free PDFs and accompanying files for every single one of these guides from the links in the article below.

1. Transform a dull stock image into great looking artwork
A series of techniques for coping with boring stock art that you're supplied with for ad design. Discover how to give the images some life, but still leave room in the composition for copy and logos.
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2. Boost your images with Lab colour
Lab colour is a useful colour space in Photoshop that enables you to separate luminance information from colour information. This allows you to achieve amazing colour treatments that aren't possible in RGB, all without compromising the luminance, contrast or detail of the image.
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3. Create striking portraits
This tutorial shows you how to compose a portrait so that the viewer's attention is directed onto the subject without being distracted by the background. It also demonstrates how to define the light source, which ties the whole image together. These principles apply to landscapes and still life as well.
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4. Retouch mediocre photos
Using just the standard filters and tools in Photoshop, with no add-ons or plug-ins, you can make a photo look however you want it to. The techniques demonstrated here will help you get the best possible result from any image. As the tutorial notes, "in Photoshop there are no rules to break - just different ways to accomplish your goals."
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5. Combine textures with vectors
Vector art can sometimes appear a little too crisp and that's where Photoshop comes in. Blending modes, masks and Alpha Channels can give a convincing distressed effect to your vectors. This guide uses a number of real-world image resources as a basis for the effect, achieving a tactile imperfection.
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6. Combine photos to create surrealist landscapes
One trend in photo manipulation is to use several stock images to create a composition. But to make your efforts convincing, you'll need to understand how lighting, colours and shadows work in the real world. This project will show you how.
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7. Create fake photo-real scenes
Remember the Smirnoff 'bottle as lens' ads? Now you can make your own. In this guide, you'll learn how to compose an image using three photographs shot in different places at different times. The result is a rhino in a bottle!
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8. Dress up fashion photography
If you're working on a fashion project, you can have some real fun. In this project, you'll use Photoshop, plus raw materials such as card and paper, to develop a strongly themed result.
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9. Create graffiti stamp art
To create cool graffiti stamp art, you need to go against the conventional idea of how to use the Brush tool. Using a piece of artwork as your brush tip can produce some stunning results.
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10. Defringe hair
Selecting fine strands of hair in order to cut out a model from a background is enough to drive most Photoshop users mad - but there is a solution. The answer lies in using channels to make a detailed alpha mask for your image, as well as in harnessing the Layer Matting features to refine your final extraction.
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