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Incredibly Common Photoshop Fails to Avoid

Peter M March 31, 2021 · 3 min read
As we know, Photoshop is a powerful tool. It’s the industry-standard image editor for designers everywhere and has even worked its way into the common vernacular. (For example: “That photo of me looks terrible! Can you Photoshop it?”). But in the wrong hands, Photoshop can be a hazard. Whether you’re a first-time novice or a seasoned user, you can still afford to brush up on your skills. Here’s our list of all-too-common fails when using Photoshop, and how to avoid them. Photoshop Fails

1. Not Organizing Files Properly.

When working on a complex design job, it’s easy to end up with a stack of layers in your Photoshop document. If you don’t stick to a proper naming protocol from the get go, you’ll find yourself with hundreds of unruly layers, all with indistinguishable names like “layer 7 copy copy 53”. Get into the habit of deleting, organizing and grouping your layers as you go, and give elements of your document (including filenames themselves) simple, descriptive labels that will make sense to you (or another designer) next time you open your document.

2. Using Photoshop Instead Of Illustrator or InDesign.

Photoshop works well with raster-based images and photographs, and can handle typography up to a point. But if you often find yourself scaling and resizing shapes, or doing complex typesetting or page layouts, switching to InDesign might be your best bet. Or, if you’re working with a lot of text or vector elements, you might be better off using a program like Illustrator. As always, the right tool is the one that’s right for the job.

3. Overuse Of Filters.

Photoshop has a whole suite of powerful filters and effects. But subtlety is the key to their good use. Trickery like brush strokes and ripples and lens flares have their place, but like CGI in a movie, they work best when the audience isn’t even aware of them. You can also check out Creative Market for a range of awesome, unique Actions and Plugins that will help stand you apart from the crowd.

4. Not Aligning Elements.

Great design sticks to a grid. If you’re not up to speed on the idea of designing with a grid in mind, have a read here. But in general, it makes good aesthetic sense to align common elements in your layout up with each other. You can do this in Photoshop by turning the grid on when needed, or snapping elements in line automatically.

5. Destructive Design.

If you’re tracing an element or making a curves or levels change to an image, get into the habit of using masks and adjustment layers. That way, your original layer is kept intact and untouched, and ready to be revisited if your edit doesn’t work out.

What Are Some Other Common Photoshop Fails?

So there you have it, Photoshop fans. Know of any other common Photoshop mistakes, tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments.

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Peter M
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  • thanks! 6 years ago
  • I would add using many many psd files for small iterations or versions of the graphic design. Use layer comps instead. You can master it and make the design more flexible by using linked smart objects with layer comps and adjust the design very quickly. 6 years ago
  • @VojtÄ›ch MareÅ¡ I would rather say "Dont use Photoshop for graphic design" 6 years ago
  • Knowing some photoshop does not make you a designer. There is no substitute for good design and ideas, you need to have the quality ideas, drawings, drafts etc before thinking about using Photoshop. Downloading some fonts and others illustration does not cut it! 6 years ago
  • A common Photoshop fail that i see alot is the designer leaving the white fringe around a subject...Drives me insane! 6 years ago
  • #2. And I agree with you Becca Miller, knowing some photoshop does not make you a designer. 6 years ago
  • My regularly. As for knowing photoshop or not knowing photoshop says nothing abour being a designer. Everybody is a designer...maybe a junior at best bit still. Every expert or pro started out as a beginner. Imo statements like that give a whole new meaning to 'negative space'. 6 years ago
  • andor-I think perhaps you missed my point. Not everyone is a designer, no matter the skill level in a particular program. I work in a print shop doing file management and digital output. We have a salesperson who knows something of photoshop and Indesign, and we receive files from him for output (which we generally have to fix in some fashion), but I would not call him a designer. I don't think that's being negative. 6 years ago
  • That's a whole different thing Jeanne and in that context you are definitely right. And on top of that the difference between designer and creative...seems to get lost too at times. 6 years ago
  • As a prepress specialist, I see numerous business cards and smaller print pieces designed in Photoshop when they shouldn't be. Even at 300 dpi that's only 600x1050 dots composing your 6-7pt text, and then designers wonder why their text doesn't print crisp even when it looks good "on screen". Do all that heavy image work in PS then lay it in Illustrator or Indesign to add your vector text. 5 years ago
  • I need to take much care in the filters always! great post! 4 years ago