Turn any photo into a dot grid artwork with these Photoshop actions. You'll get great results with dots that change size. They get larger in brighter areas and smaller in darker areas. Free download available.
Recycle layer masks with clipping masks.
4. Keep photo effects simple
There are many ways to apply photo effects and most of them can be created with few adjustment layers. It’s easy to keep stacking layers upon layers to get the photo effect you want – try recreating the same photo effect using fewer layers. Photo effects should be created from a series of layers that you understand; not a random stack created by chance. Complex photo effects are messy and can degrade the image quality and reduce the dynamic range of your artwork.
Complex photo effects are often similar to simple photo effects.
5. Use Smart Filters
One benefit of Smart Objects is Smart Filters. When you convert your layers to Smart Objects, you can use Smart Filters which is basically the non-destructive way to use filters. Smart filters let you change the settings anytime and give you the ability to apply blending modes to the filters. Don’t duplicate a layer just so you can nondestructively apply a filter to it. Convert that layer into a Smart Object then apply filters as Smart filters.
6. Dodge and Burn on a single layer
Dodging and burning is an essential part of photo manipulations and this technique can leave your PSD with many unnecessary layers. You also can't dodge/burn directly on a Smart Object but there is a way around this:
- Create a new layer. Go to Edit > Fill. Select 50% gray from the drop down menu then click OK.
- Change the blending mode to Overlay (experiment with other blending modes like Soft Light, Hard Light, etc.).
- Dodge and burn on this gray layer.
7. Crop non-destructively
The easiest nondestructive editing technique is to crop nondestructively. When you select the Crop tool, disable the "Delete Cropped Pixels" option in the options bar. Essentially, this will tell Photoshop to keep all the data so that you can uncrop your image at a later time.
8. Organize your layers with names, groups, and labels
Photo manipulations can turn into a mess of layers. Always keep your layers organized because this will save you time and force you to use more efficient editing techniques. Plan a way to organize your layers. For example, you can group your layers by foreground, middleground, and background. You can also group layers by the objects in your photo manipulation. There are many ways to group layers; choose the one that makes the most sense to you.