Founded in 1982 by Charles Geschke and John Warnock, Adobe supplies the world’s creatives with the solutions they need to create stunning deliverables. Photoshop, a powerful graphics editor, remains one of the most well-known products in the Adobe Creative Suite since its creation more than 30 years ago.
Photoshop became the industry standard for providing unquestionable value to business owners and giving them the power to create stunning images, graphics and 3D artwork. Discover the benefits of Photoshop, why the product is so popular, how to use it for your business and alternative software options.
The first version of Photoshop was created in 1988 by brothers Thomas and John Knoll.
What is Photoshop?
Photoshop is software that offers a virtually limitless opportunity to create digital art, from simple social media posts to billboards. The all-in-one tool includes a variety of functions and features for drawing, editing and producing. You can expect these assets in all Photoshop software:
- Content-aware fills to change the color of drawn lines
- Retouching and remixing tools to level up your photography
- Hundreds of brushes for unique digital calligraphy
- Quick-click selections and shape tools
- Collaborative functions to share designs with a team
Photoshop can take time to learn because of the breadth of its functionality. However, Adobe (and many industry professionals) offers resources and step-by-step guides to accomplish a variety of projects. As proof of its usability and popularity, consider this: More than 90% of the world’s creatives use Photoshop, according to Adobe.
Starting at $20.99 per month, a Photoshop subscription includes the software for desktop and iPad, a version for mobile devices, the Adobe Fresco app for drawing and painting, and 100 GB of cloud storage.
What are the benefits of using Photoshop?
Whether you’re in manufacturing, the restaurant industry or automotive sales, your business can likely benefit from using Photoshop.
Complete creative control
Photoshop gives you the ability to customize photos, graphics and more to fit your brand’s specific needs. With style presets, creating consistent brand assets is a breeze. Photoshop supports many file types and invites collaboration, ensuring accessibility to every designer on your team.
Versatility of file types
Photos aren’t the only format Photoshop can handle. While PSD is master file type, these are some other file formats Photoshop can work with and export:
- Photos – JPEG, TIFF, PNG
- Videos – GIF, MOV, DPX, MPEG-4
- Documents – PDF
As part of Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop makes it easy to create and share files, or elements of files, with other Creative Suite applications like InDesign and Lightroom.
Fast editing process
Some people don’t mind dabbling in Photoshop for hours on end. They upload images, edit them, delete them and start all over. They enjoy learning and the creative process. It’s about the journey, not necessarily the finished product, and how they can apply new skills to future projects.
However, your creative needs might be time-sensitive, and some design professionals don’t have hours to edit one photo. Fortunately, Photoshop allows you to edit images in a fast and efficient environment. The more experience you have, the faster you can move. The software also has preset filters, brushes and layers to expedite retouching. These tools also come in handy for beginners.
You can learn Photoshop in a formal or informal environment. Can the same be said for its competitors? Definitely not. For example, many colleges and universities throughout the United States offer Photoshop courses.
If attending an institute of higher education doesn’t suit your budget, schedule or inclination, there are many online resources that can help you learn this software. Here are a few to consider:
- LinkedIn Learning
These types of courses help keep Photoshop relevant. The more people who understand and fall in love with the software, the more likely it is that it will stay relevant in the future. It also gives Adobe an incentive to keep upgrading the platform and innovating.
Professional results at a fraction of the cost
Photoshop can turn a beginner into an expert in no time at all. Just like anything, there is a learning curve, but you’ll eventually become proficient in it. This can positively impact your budget; if you don’t need to spend money on outside design help or even in-house photo editors, you can allocate those funds to another area in your business.
There will always be individuals and companies that have the money to hire a professional design firm, but there will always be those who are interested in doing the job themselves. This generates a greater sense of accomplishment while also saving money. As long as Photoshop allows users to produce professional results at an affordable price, it will remain in demand among businesses and individuals alike.
How can businesses use Photoshop?
There are so many ways to use Photoshop for your business – regardless of your company’s field – even if you don’t have a professional designer on your team. The only limitation is your imagination.
Social media graphics
Restaurants often use Photoshop to create eye-catching graphics and GIFs to share in social media campaigns. The software’s customizable canvas sizes and easy exports automatically convert artboards to JPEG format before sharing on social platforms. Photoshop also enables users to create social graphics from photos or draw on a blank canvas with shapes, brushes and pens. [Editing JPEG photos? Learn how to compress JPEG images.]
In addition, Photoshop enables you to create data-driven graphics by importing a data set and defining and renaming variables. An image that uses numbers is a great way to catch people’s attention as they scroll through their social media feed.
Video marketing should be a key part of your web content strategy. With Photoshop, you don’t have to hire a professional videographer; you can rest assured that your in-house editor has the right tools. You get these powerful video-editing capabilities with the software:
- Basic video and animation layer editing
- Creating frame animations
- Creating images for videos
- Adjusting audio tracks
- Including video transitions
- Applying filters to video layers
Users can export their edited videos in three different formats: Digital Picture Exchange (DPX), H.264 (MPEG-4) and QuickTime (MOV). [Learn more about growing your brand with video.]
Consistency remains an important part of marketing material creation. Photoshop enables easy ways to ensure that posters, web graphics, images, email marketing campaigns and printed materials all follow the same style guidelines. With a set palette and fonts, designers can seamlessly apply the same style to different projects. Newer users can employ basic Photoshop skills to create flyer templates, postcards, brochures, web pages, signage and business cards, among other products.
Unified communication on social media, direct mail and in-store signage builds your brand’s image. The more consistent it is, the more customers can recognize your brand. Your brand style guide — built from your preferred swatches and typefaces — gives your business’s assets a cohesive appearance to customers.
When designing in Photoshop, try not to tweak your brand style guide unless absolutely necessary. Changing colors and fonts frequently may diminish your customers’ ability to recognize your brand’s marketing material.
Your company can use Photoshop to design web graphics, retouch photography, customize videos and create marketing materials with a consistent brand style.
What are the alternatives to Photoshop?
Despite its dominance in the marketplace, Photoshop may not be the software you want to use for creating and editing photos and videos for your business. However, even if it is, it’s always worth considering other options.
Often referred to as the best Photoshop alternative for iPads, Procreate has a low cost and an intuitive user interface, making it a great choice for designers looking to do digital painting on the go. However, Procreate operates on iOS only and doesn’t include the full suite of functions Photoshop has. Procreate is primarily digital painting software, so creating marketing materials isn’t its forte.
GIMP remains the best free Photoshop competitor, thanks to its cost (nothing!) and open-source functionality for Linux, Windows and Mac users. GIMP’s wide toolset includes features similar to Photoshop’s, such as painting, color correction/retouching, selection functions and the ability to work with different file formats. While GIMP receives constant improvements as open-source software, users may encounter software lags and a steep learning curve.
Though Affinity Photo lacks specific uses for marketing materials, it is the closest alternative to Photoshop for professional designers and photographers. While using Photoshop requires a subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud, Affinity Photo costs significantly less and comes with most of the same tools. The software, available on both Mac and Windows operating systems, has a separate version for iPad devices but not for Android devices.
Designers tasked with user experience and user interface design should consider Sketch as a Photoshop substitute. It’s a vector graphics application with features like infinite zoom, layers, gradients and style presets, thanks to community-created Sketch plugins. However, Sketch is available only to Mac users.
Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.