Despite the deep collection of menus and tools Photoshop has to offer, the brush tool is where most of the painting actually happens. This video explores a way to streamline the connection between your brain and the canvas.
Digital painting relies on your ability to comfortably wield the Brush Tool. Keyboard shortcuts are a huge part of that, and committing them to memory is an important step in your learning. This video proposes a 'maze' drill for you to hone your brush tool chops. It may seem a bit unusual, but it's not all that different from an athlete running through an obstacle course to improve their agility! Most importantly, have fun with this! And make sure to download the brush maze drill here. And if you want a refresher on the brush tool and its hidden features, check out this digital painting 101 video
Why are console video games played with a controller or a touch screen, and not a keyboard? Because those are the best-suited input devices for the way most users interact with their device. Guess what? Being a digital painter means you're no longer included in "most users". Now you've got a different set of needs, and will most likely be spending longer at your computer than the average user. With this in mind, a standard keyboard might not be the best input device for you. Just like using a stylus instead of a mouse, you might want to consider alternative keyboards or controllers for your other hand.
When it comes to ergonomics, re-mapping your keyboard shortcuts is a great start - but it doesn't need to be the end. Over the years I've radically changed my input scheme and the results have been very clear: expensive, but worth every penny.
Like the buttons and dials in your car, keyboard shortcuts are the "user interface" with which you control Photoshop. Have you customized these commands yet? The whole point of keyboard shortcuts is to save you time and avoid wasting energy. With this in mind, it's worth considering your personal needs when working with keyboard shortcuts. In general, shortcut keys are designed for easy recall: ctrl+s = save, etc. In this video I suggest that a better scheme for assigning keys is based on the position of your left hand. Re-mapping the keyboard shortcuts with this new prioritization will reduce your hand strain and speed up your painting technique.
Standing back from your painting to get the 'big picture' is extremely important. Getting up close and personal with your details is important too. What if you could do both simultaneously? You can. There's a feature that many artists don't know about in Photoshop which allows you to open the same document in multiple windows simultaneously. In this video I'll show the practical implications of this command in a detailed illustration. Especially if you have two monitors, the "New Window" command is a priceless addition to the digital painter's workflow.
Have you ever gotten lost in a tall stack of unnamed Photoshop layers? Naming your layers may be the proper way to stay organized, but it is extremely time consuming. This video offers a time-saving compromise. Even though I don't name my layers, there are certain ones that I don't want to lose track of - and a bit of color-coding does the trick. There are multiple ways to change the color coding of a layer in the stack, but this video shows how to use a Photoshop Action to accomplish it. I especially like Photoshop actions because they allow me to keep my stylus in the center of my painting, and to trigger commands with my left hand.
Sometimes you'll find yourself working with a repeating pattern, and want to quickly expand it. This video offers an alternative to the 'Pattern Preset' with a quick, manual, method to expand your subject. This is a technique for keyboard shortcut lovers.