Adobe Creative Suite software is renowned for its power to help realize visual creativity, and Adobe Photoshop is one of the more flexible and powerful tools in the kit. The feature set available is extensive, but there are a few primary Photoshop skills students can pick up in a single training cycle:

  • Digital painting
  • Color theory
  • Photo retouching
  • Masking
  • Animation
  • Vector geometry
  • Photo manipulation

Because Photoshop can be used in a wide array of visual pursuits, online courses that go beyond the introductory level tend to focus on one specific area of the program's tool set. Photographers, for example, typically use a very different set of tools than illustrators or animators.

Online Photoshop course structure

There are numerous ways to learn Photoshop skills online, and training courses can vary quite a bit from one source to another. There are, however, some important fundamentals that come into play. Here are some of those fundamentals as described in the syllabi for a variety of related courses:

  • Identifying and navigating Photoshop tools, menu commands and interface elements
  • Using selection areas, layers and blend modes to construct images and documents
  • Optimizing image files for use online or in print media
  • Applying filters and effects to individual image layers
  • Creating type layers to add text or watermarks to documents and images
  • Importing different image files and choosing the right format when exporting projects

Photography focus

Some online courses offered through photography departments also include lessons about photographic retouching and using adjustment layers to modify brightness and contrast or balance colors.

Communication design focus

Students who learn Photoshop through communication design programs may go deeper into typography, while courses in a studio art context are more likely to include content about exotic brushes or shading techniques.

Types of online Photoshop courses

Students can learn Photoshop skills online from any one of a variety of sources, and each one tends to employ their own approach to instruction. Courses can be offered as part of a degree in the visual arts at traditional or online universities, particularly in the fields of photography and graphic design.

For students who may not to commit to a full degree program, the Adobe KnowHow program offers individual tutorials at varying degrees of skill. Freelance instructors also offer courses at online learning marketplaces like Udemy, and numerous tutorial videos covering individual tools and concepts can be found on YouTube and other video sharing sites.


"Adobe Photoshop Training," Sessions College for Professional Design, July 25, 2014, http://training.sessions.edu/online-training/adobe-photoshop-training-online/adobe-photoshop-training.asp

"Photoshop I," Chabot College, July 25, 2014, http://www.chabotcollege.edu/faculty/mschaeffer/syllabi_s2014/photoshop1-eve.html

"Photoshop I," Santa Rosa Junior College, July 25, 2014, http://www.santarosa.edu/~dlaird/ps1/

"Digital Painting," Austin Community College, July 25, 2014, http://www5.austincc.edu/faculty/syllabus.php?id=199561

"Photoshop Training - Retutpro.com," Udemy, July 25, 2014, https://www.udemy.com/photoshoptraining/

"Photoshop Tutorials," YouTube, July 25, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/user/pstutorialsws

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