The Secret to Stunning Images: Photoshop Edition

Adobe Photoshop was the foundation on which my interest in graphic design was built. In high school, this program taught me how to create digital art and I’ve been learning about the possibilities and uses for graphic design ever since.


Through my education and experience at Suite 4, I’ve discovered how incredibly useful this tool is in the business and marketing worlds. Images are one of the best ways to attract an audience and communicate a message. The brain processes an image 60,000 times faster than text. As a small business owner, you should definitely take that into consideration when approaching your marketing. Having a basic knowledge of Photoshop will greatly benefit you and your business, especially if you don’t have a graphic designer to lean on.

5 Photoshop Tools Anyone Can Use

Photoshop can be overwhelming at first, but once you know how to use a few key tools you’ll find it much easier to navigate the program. Here are some simple features to get familiar with:


  • Adjusting levels – (Go to: Image > Adjustments > Levels) The Levels tool is great for adjusting the lighting on images. Some images need more adjustment than others – this tool helps you gauge how much that is. Adjusting the levels can give your image that extra pop that catches the eye. When using this tool, a good general rule of thumb is to focus on the input levels graph. Adjust the limits to the place where the graph begins to increase, as shown in the screenshots below. But keep in mind this is just a guideline, so make sure to have the preview box checked in order to see how your image changes with the adjustments you make. Depending on your image, your input levels can look very different. On an image with bad lighting, the graph may be very one-sided as seen in these images. Every image is unique, so play around with it and do what you think looks best!

(before)Photoshop levels adjustment - before

(after)Photoshop Levels adjustment - after


  • Dodge/Burn – (On the left toolbar, as shown below. Click and hold to view and change your tool) The dodge and burn tools allow you to lighten or darken, respectively, specific areas of your image. Plus they are incredibly easy to use! Once you’ve selected which tool you want, you can adjust the size, exposure and range on the top toolbar. The exposure adjusts how strong the effects of the tool is. If you keep the exposure on the lower end around 25%, you can make your adjustments gradually and it’ll look more natural. The range allows you to choose what lighting type to target – shadows, midtones or highlights.

photoshop dodge and burn tool

  • Free Transform(Go to: Edit > Free Transform) The transform feature allows you to resize and adjust an object or layer. Holding down the ‘shift’ key will keep the object’s proportions while you resize – which is very important to keep images from looking stretched or distorted.
  • Text(the ‘T’ tool on the left toolbar) Adding text to your image is a great way to make a simple graphic for a blog or social media post or even an ad! The idea is to catch your audience’s eye with the image and then really hook them with your text.
  • Image size – (Go to: Image > Image Size) Checking and adjusting your image size before you save your image is a good practice to get into, especially if you’re planning to use it for web. To ensure that your photos appear correctly and to avoid slowing down your website load time, make sure your images are sized appropriately. Here are some common image sizes to keep in mind:
    • Facebook cover photo: 851 x 315 px
    • Facebook shared photo: 1200 x 630 px
    • Instagram photo: 640 x 640 px
    • Twitter in-stream photo: 1024 x 512 px
    • Email header photo: 600 px wide
    • Blog photos: 500 px wide

The best way to learn is to practice and explore. So, don’t be afraid to play around with these tools and others to figure out how they work. When I have questions about a tool, I honestly just google it. But if you want more formal tutorials and are both great resources.


What tools have you found to be useful in editing images? Share them in the comments section below.


If you have questions about how to utilize images and graphics to improve your marketing, let us buy you coffee!

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