Introduction to Photoshop

This one of 11 x 2hr technical workshops I created for the module Med 109 Design Fundamentals as part of the BSc Interactive Media degree. These workshops were designed to provide first-year students with an introduction to tools and techniques using Adobe Photoshop. This lesson provided an introduction to the Photoshop tools and workspace and basic design workflow. I deconstructed an example from Pentagram as the students were studying Pentagram’s work in another part of the module.

Workshop Overview

Today I am going to take you some of the basics of Photoshop, by recreating a booklet design by Pentagram for Battersea dogs home.

This will give you experience in the use of some of the key aspects of Photoshop which are the basis of most design projects.

  • creating a new document,
  • opening and placing images,
  • activating and styling Adobe fonts,
  • using the Type tool and Character panel,
  • using layers,
  • using rulers and guides to adhere to the rule of thirds
  • positioning, aligning and transforming elements
  • and saving your file for print.
  • In today’s class we will be recreating one of the booklet covers illustrated above. NB the copyright for these images is owned by Pentagram and Battersea, nor for online published only for practice!

Getting Started

Let’s start by creating a ‘med109_workshop folder’. Inside that create a folder called ‘Photoshop’. Download and unzip the Battersea files and save them into that ‘Photoshop’ folder.

Open up Photoshop. You are given the option to ‘Open’ a document or to create ‘New file’. Select New File.

In the ‘New Document’ dialogue box. Select the Print tab, then A4.

Then in the ‘Preset Details’ on the left, check that the ‘Orientation’ is set to portrait. The Resolution is 300dpi, the Colour mode is CMYK.

Enter in ‘battersea_booklet_cover’ in the file name box Click Create.

The Photoshop Workspace

Before we start check that you are working in the Essentials workspace:

Go to ‘Windows’ menu, select Workpace, check that it is set to Essentials.

Photoshop provides a range of editing tools that allow you to change the appearance of your images and designs. 

There is often a number of different ways you can access the same tools or achieve the same effect.

Photoshop provides a number of handy shortcut keys to access these tools which will speed up your workflow.

NB there’s a lot of tools and functionality you don’t need to use, so don’t worry about learning them all, just learn the aspects you need to know for your project.

In the middle we have the Artboard, where you layout your design. Along the top we have the MENUS, whic provide access to tools, settings and filters.

On the left-hand-side, we have the TOOLBAR, which provide access to common tools such as the Type tool, Shape tool and Pen tool etc.

For a full list of tools see this  Tools-panel-overview.png.img.png. You can edit your toolbar by clicking on the elipsis (three dots) above the colour swatches.

When a tool is selected the PROPERTIES bar will reflect the settings of that tool.

For instance, when the ‘Type’ tool is selected, the font, font weight, colour and size appears in the property bar.

On the right-hand-side we have the PANELS. To open a panel click on it and it will pop open.

I’ve highlighted the most useful panels, that will you use repeatedly: Layers, Colour, Swatches, Character, Paragraph and Properties.

Remember setting up your workspace effectively speeds up your workflow.

So let’s get started using some of these tools

Deconstructing the Battersea booklet

We’re going to be desconstructing and recreating a layout with a new cat image

The first one is a booklet cover from the Pentagram’s Battersea campaign.

‘File’ menu> Open. This opens the file dialogue box, navigate to your ‘Battersea’ folder and select ‘battersea_booklets.jpg‘. Click Open.

Each booklet is made up of a number of components: an image, covered by a off-white rectangle, with off-white (#f4f3f1) and off-black (#282828) Franklin Gothic sans-serif text and the Battersea logo.

Each of these elements will occupy a separate layer in our photoshop document.

Using layers allows us to build up pictures of different elements, applying different styles and techniques to each layer to create rich effects.

If I look at the battersea_booklets.jpg and place guides over the top, I can see how the image consists of text and logo on a rectangle laid out symmetrically around the central guides.

This creates balance and harmony.

And the photograph is arranged according to the rule of thirds which focuses our eye on the cat’s face – where we project a ‘personality’, making us identify with the animal. 

Placing the image

We will start with the largest element, the photograph by Kanashi on Unsplash  

Go to ‘File’ menu and select Place Embedded. Navigate to the ‘battersea’ folder and click on the fluffysiamese.jpg image then select Place.

This will embed the image into the document.

The image will appear on the Artboard with a big X through it. In the PROPERTIES bar, change W value to 28%. 

Note that the link symbol is automatically selected. This ensures that the width and height are scaled by the same amount and aspect ratio is maintained. To confirm the size and positioning of the image press the tick.

Click on the Layers panel to see that the second layer now consists of the Fluffy Siamese image.

Now we use the Rulers to position our image

Creating guides

We use guidelines to help us position the components in our layouts.

The rulers should be visible along the top and left of the artboard. If they are not visible, use Ctrl + R to turn them on.

Right-click on the ruler to check the measurements are in millimetres.

To start we will position our horizontal guides. If we move our mouse over to the ruler on the top of the artboard and click and drag we will release a guide.

Drag this guide so it is positioned at 0 mm, click and drag on the top rule again, drag your second guide to 148.5 mm. Click and drag your third guide to 297mm. 

Our page has been divide vertically in half.

Now we want to add a ‘thirds’ grid to the top half of our image.

Add two additional horizontal guides at 49.5 and 99mm

Then add in vertical guides by dragging guides from the left hand ruler, positioning these guides at 0, 70, 140 and 209.7mm.

Now position our cat with its face in the middle third and an eye aligned to a guide, this focusses you view on the cats eyes.

Adding Colour Swatches an using the shape tool

We are going to use an off-white and off-black for our text and rectangle.

We can create colour swatches to make sure we apply our colours consistently.

Open up your swatches panel and click on the folder icon to create a swatch group call this folder ‘battersea’

Our swatches have a hexadecimal colour of off-white #f4f3f1 and off-black #282828

To add our swatches to the Battersea swatches folder  we click on the the Foreground Colour in the toolbar to open the ‘Color Picker’.

We then can enter our hex colour f4f3f1 number in the box at the bottom beside the pound sign #

Click Add to Swatches, name it ‘off-white’ then click OK. This should load the off-white colour into the ‘battersea’ group in your swatches

Repeat the same process for the off-black colour #282828

We select the off-white swatch  to load it into the foreground color

Select the fluffysiamese layer. We can use the guides to draw a rectangle on a new layer.

In the TOOLBAR, click on the Shape tool (U) and select rectangle if not already selected, the fill should automatically inherit the foreground colour – the off-white.

Click a point along the middle horizontal guide, outside the artboard click and drag to the bottom, right hand corner.

Zoom into your image Ctrl + + to make sure your rectangle is sitting on the guide. We now have a new layer called ‘Rectangle 1’.

Positioning and transforming Images

Make sure the Move tool (V) in the TOOLBAR is selected.

Next, we are going to place the Battersea logo in a layer above the rectangle layer.

Click on the ‘Rectangle 1’ layer in the ‘Layers panel’. Then we will place the logo, using Filemenu, Place Embedded.

Navigate to the ‘Battersea’ folder and select battersea_logo_cat.jpg and click Place, then click on the tick.

When we look at the final booklet, we can that see that the logo should be much smaller so we are going to have to transform the logo by scaling it down.

We need to maintain the aspect ratio while we do this. Make sure your logo layer is selected then select Ctrl + T or go to Edit menu > Transform. You’ll see the X through the center and the little handles that allow you to drag corners to resize the image manually.

We will use the PROPERTIES bar to resize the image. Enter 33 in the W box this will scale the image to 33%.

Note that the link symbol is automatically selected. This ensures that the width and height are scaled by the same amount and aspect ratio is maintained.

Again, use the guides to center the image close to the bottom of the page

We can add in a couple of new guides to divide the botom into thirds to position our logo.

Add vertical rules at 198 and 247.5mm.

Position the logo in the centre of the vertical third and align the nose with the bottom third.

Activating Adobe fonts

These booklets will use ITC Franklin Gothic font, so we need to check if we have access to this font in Photoshop.

Click on Character panel on the right-hand-side

This will undock the ‘Character’ panel, click on the dropdown arrow on the list of fonts in top left box to see if ITC Franklin Gothic demi condensed is available on your machine.

If not, we need to activate it. Go to and search for ITC Franklin Gothic. Click on Activate fonts, select all three options.

It will take a minute to activate then you should get a notification to say they have been activated, they now should be available in your drop-down font menu.

Before we add our text, we need to set up our type tool in our Character and Paragraph panels/ palettes

Select ITC Franklin Gothic (LT PRO) demi condensed,

Font size 155pt, Tracking 50 (Tracking = the spacing between letters in a line of text)

Set the Kerning (spacing between individual letters) to Optical

Next, we need to set the colour of the font to our off-white colour swatch

And set the alignment in the Paragraph panel to central

Adding text

We are now ready to add the words RESCUE on a new layer, you want to make sure your text appears on the uppermost layer so select the ‘battersea_logo_cat’ layer.  

NB Once you start typing a new layer will be created automatically.

Click the Text tool (T) in the TOOLBAR. Click on the cat in the ARTBOARD and drag a text box that runs the full width of the page start typing “RESCUE”.

Because we have centred the paragraph and made the text box the full width we know the word will be centred on our page.

Now we need to type the “IS BEST” in Black. Create a new layer for your new text.

Load the  off black swatch into your foreground colour and your character colour.

Select the Text tool (T), click on the ARTBOARD and type “IS BEST”.

However when I draw lines either side of the words I can see the R and the I are not quite aligned.

We can remedy this 

Select the Is BEST  layer and increase the tracking to 53, then just nudge the text box to theright using the left arrow key the text should now be aligned.

Saving your file for print

Ctrl + S saves the file as a .PSD: a photoshop file where the layers can be edited.

We also want to save our file in a finished non-editable format. We look a bit more at image file types next week.

As we selected print at the start and these are the covers of booklets, we need to save in a print-friendly format – PDF/JPEG or TIFF.

Your printer will normally tell you what format they want. For this booklet we will save it as a PDF.

Go to the File menu and chose Save A Copy . From the ‘Format’ drop-down menu, select Photoshop PDF.

Append your file name with _final and click Save. Select [High Quality Print] from the Adobe PDF Presets and click Save PDF.

Leave a Reply

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