Three Minute Tip! 3 Quick Photoshop Tips to Help Your Interface Creation

We are really excited today about the first of many of a brand new posting series that we hope you will love as much as we love creating it. Officially introducing (drumroll, please…) Three Minute Tips!
Three Minute Tips are going to offer quick advice to help you. These ideas may be mini-tutorials, or quick concepts about user experience. Today, we will actually pack in about nine minutes worth of tips with these three quick tips for Photoshop techniques that you may not already know about.

1. Steal Some Color

Sometimes, you want to take color from something that isn’t inside Photoshop. Perhaps you like a certain color scheme in another application you use, or even a specific color you find in a picture on the web. Sure, you could take a screenshot of the app or the browser window and open it in Photoshop; but why would you do that when Photoshop can read color no matter what application you are using? To steal color from, say, quickly and easily, follow these steps.

  1. Create a new document if you do not already have a document open.
  2. Open the color picker by clicking the foreground color (bottom left)
  3. Make sure that the window that has your target color is visible behind Photoshop’s open window
  4. Click inside the open Photoshop document and, while holding the mouse button, drag out of the Photoshop window to the target color.

See the illustration below for the technique described.

2. Enlarge Layer Panel Thumbnails

I’ve been using Photoshop for years, and for years I have wanted to know how to increase the size of the tiny little layer thumbnail representations in the layers palette. This in particular is important for being able to see a layer mask. I never took the time to look it up, but I finally took the time to figure it out when I (inevitably) got frustrated with it. Hey, we love Photoshop, but sometimes… there’s a few flaws there. (Sorry Adobe. No one is perfect.) It’s oddly quite a simple little setting tweak, but one that will save me (and hopefully you) a lot of upsetting effects that result from tiny-thumbnail-stress-syndrome.

What you do:

  1. Open the layer palette.
  2. Click the flyout menu on the right side, and choose “Panel Options”
  3. Click the radio button next to your desired thumbnail size
  4. Press Ok


3. Make Selection from Alpha Information of a Layer

This one may be the fastest of them all. Maybe even two minutes. Or really, as long as it takes for you to make a click. That’s how long it takes to make a selection from the alpha information of a layer in Photoshop.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, alpha deals with the amount of transparency of a given pixel. So, a pixel’s information includes both color (for screen, RGB) and alpha (a). This is where we get RGBA images from. Saving as a PNG allows you to preserve the alpha information of an image created in Photoshop.

So, how do you do it?

It’s as simple as CMD+Clicking on the layer’s thumbnail (or CTRL+Click for PC’s). This simple shortcut gives a marquee around whatever alpha information is held within a given layer.


We hope that you have enjoyed this first installment of Three Minute Tips. This will be (affectionately) hashtagged as 3MT in the future, in case you want to make sure you don’t miss out on any future Three Minute Tips! As always, we would love to hear your feedback. Do YOU have any three minute tips to share of your own? Let us know!


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