Media & Techniques

5 Photoshop Tricks That Will Blow Your Students’ Minds

Photoshop galaxy

Using Photoshop is an adventure. Even if you’ve been using the program for years, it’s still possible to discover something new every day. It’s even better when your students learn something new and can share it with you.

With all the features Photoshop provides it can be overwhelming to determine what tools are essential for your students to learn. Different tools can be rationalized for different uses, but your students will never stop being amazed by all the magic Photoshop can create.

Check out these five Photoshop tricks that will amaze your students!

(Need to brush up on your skills before diving in? Check out the Discovering Photoshop Basics PRO Learning Pack!)

1. Creating Galaxies

Photoshop galaxy

Students love exploring the world of Photoshop because of all the special effects. One of the best ways for students to start exploring special effects while learning a plethora of new tools and techniques is by creating a galaxy.

In this multi-step process, students will learn how to manipulate and use filters to create interesting effects. Students will explore Layer Styles and go in-depth on different brush settings which help achieve effects students typically cannot draw or paint digitally on their own. One of the most exciting components of this tutorial is that students will learn to spherize objects, which allows a 2-D shape to transform into a 3-D form. Use this video to guide your students to create these out-of-this-world galaxies!

2. Using the Perspective Bending Effect

photoshop artwork

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Inception, you’re familiar with the mind-blowing effects that make an image appear as if it’s bending. No matter the skill level of your students, this effect is achievable, and your students will be excited to try it. Your students will be able to follow along with this tutorial to create the perspective of an image bending. To locate an image to manipulate, try using Unsplash. Exploring this technique will not only teach your students inversion techniques but will also introduce them to using layer masks.

3. Playing Around with the Blend If Feature

blend if feature photoshop

One of the most powerful, yet hidden, tools in Photoshop is the Blend If feature. This feature exists within the Photoshop Layer Styles settings and is ideal for combining two photos. For example, in the above image, the tulip field on the left is shown with a solid blue sky. The image on the right has been given a sky with clouds and sun rays to add more visual excitement. The Blend If option allows the new sky background to blend seamlessly with the original image. You can follow along with these steps to achieve this effect.

4. Creating Text Effects

use photoshop for text effects

Knowing how to manipulate words and text can enhance almost any Photoshop design. It can turn stagnant, solid filled text into a work of art. The number of ways text can be transformed to create special effects is endless, but can be overwhelming for beginners. The above plastic effect created using Layer Styles is the perfect way to introduce your students to text effects. As students begin exploring, they will want to follow along with a tutorial or guide as many of these processes contain multiple and repetitive steps. As student confidence increases, they might want to try out more advanced effects.

5. Downloading Brushes

One of the fantastic features of Photoshop is the variety of brushes available. From brushes that show every vein of a leaf to a brush that shows every strand of hair, there’s almost a brush for everything. Your beginner students probably aren’t ready to create their own Photoshop brushes, but it is possible.

interesting brushes photoshop

Before your students begin designing their own brushes, it’s best to show them how to download and add brushes to Photoshop. The entire process of doing this can take less than three minutes! Check out this video to see how to add more options to your brushes panel.

Brusheezy is an excellent website for your students to find thousands of brushes to help enhance their designs. Giving your students the option to download brushes will help students feel more confident in their work and achieve greater design effects.

The possibilities for amazing student creation using Photoshop are endless. If you find yourself struggling to capture your students’ attention, try introducing them to one of these techniques. As your students begin to create and explore, they will be mesmerized in no time!

What is your all-time favorite Photoshop technique?

What Photoshop technique or tool amazes your students every single time?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Abby Schukei

Abby Schukei, a middle school art educator and AOEU’s Social Media Manager, is a former AOEU Writer. She focuses on creating meaningful experiences for her students through technology integration, innovation, and creativity.

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