So you want to learn Photoshop

I’m often asked by friends and associates to teach them this or that about Photoshop, among other graphics applications in Adobe’s massive catalog of industrial-strength software. I’ll spend half an hour or so going over how to solve the particular problem they’re wrestling with at the time. It’s fun, it breaks up my day a bit, and I enjoy passing on what I’ve learned. But sometimes a beginner, or a not-so-beginner needs more than a quick how-to on a particular technique. They want to learn to use Photoshop (or Illustrator, or Dreamweaver, or Flash) and they’re a bit embarrassed about making me their tutorial service, and ask if they can pay me for some private tuition. That’s when I tell them about lynda.com, which in my experience is, hands down, the best learning resource out there.

There is a real Lynda, who started off way back when making tutorials for people who wanted to learn how to use Word and Excel, and she still owns the company, but lynda.com has grown into a huge library of video training courses on just about every useful piece of software under the sun. The people who teach these course are the best of the best, not just in their knowledge and skill with the program they are teaching, but in their enthusiasm for imparting knowledge. At $25 a month (for a little more you can download all of the example files on each course, you have unlimited access to the very best training available, at your own pace, on your own schedule. All you need is a browser. Any of the courses has a few videos that you can watch for free, to get the flavor of how it works and what you can learn.

I’m a subscriber myself, and use the service to get up to speed on a new piece of software, or take advanced courses on the latest features of new versions. Whether you want to make your family photos the best they can be, learn to create a website, or want to get deep into the powerful features of Microsoft Office, there isn’t a better way to spend a few bucks and a few hours than on lynda.com. (And no, I don’t work for them and they don’t pay me to say things like this!)

2 thoughts on “So you want to learn Photoshop

  1. Hi,

    First off, I wanted to say you have a really neat blog and thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    Regarding Lynda.com, yes they’re video tutorials are great, especially for beginners. I’ve been through quite a few of they’re titles (mostly on Flash), but have tried other services as well like VTC and Total Training. The first thing that I found different is the pace, regardless of the presenters. VTC seemed to have the quickest pace, but some titles tend not to go to much in depth. I enjoyed the speed, wish they depth was kept. Lynda seems to have the perfect balance, but after going though the basics/intermediate titles, I confidently head for books, which after being initiated to subject look less scary and I can quickly scan through and fetch information not found in video tutorials. Total Training seems to have a lot of depth, but the pace is slow an I personally lose patience.

    These are just my subjective opinions, so don’t take my word for it.

    To ‘master’ something that initially looks hard/scary I would say check a video tutorial series first, hit the books afterwards and always PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE ! Later on, if the topic is of enough interested it can grow into an area of research where you can even make contributions to, not just use existing tools.

    Regarding Practice, I remember when a colleague in college tried to take the video tutorials approach for Java programming, but without actually coding, just watching the videos. Our old (and slightly tipsy) Java teacher explained it like this: “You need to actually practice, not just watch videos. It’s like watching porn when you’re still a virgin! ” 🙂

    1. Thanks for the nice words, George! I find that when someone has a specific task they want to accomplish, practice comes automatically and immediately following a good tutorial. But to become truly proficient at anything requires study, observation and plenty of practice.

      I usually go to the books first, because I can usually get the information I need from a book more quickly, but my experience has been that most people aren’t as adept at turning the written word into practice. Watching a demonstration tends to work better for them, and the popularity of online video tutorials attests that.

      When you’ve gained experience with a particular tool, the “beyond the basics” and particularly the advanced titles on lynda give valuable insights into how other people approach different design tasks. We learn from each other, constantly. Every Photoshop engineer I’ve met has a story of watching someone demo their software and discovering a technique or a result they didn’t know Photoshop could do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *