Adobe Photoshop is an incredibly complex suite of photo-editing tools offering a slew of techniques, visual effects and post-processing functions, all of which can be used to completely alter the aesthetics of an image. Photoshop is more commonly associated with removing or adding content to an image, creating a “fake,” if you will. Adding a unicorn to a vacation photo to shock your kids would be one example. But the software is capable of so much more, and free Photoshop tutorials can show you.
For first-timers, however, it’s easy to get lost upon opening the suite. It’s not like default paint and simple photo-editing apps where there are only a few options. In fact, if you’re just looking to crop an image, you should probably be using another tool.
With the right tutorials and lots of practice, you can soon be editing images like a pro. Even if you have the experience, guides can help you learn new practices and manipulation techniques. To help, we’ve compiled a list of the best tutorials for all skill levels, ranging from beginner to expert. Here are the 15 best and free Photoshop tutorials.
Beginners and Basics
If you’ve never worked with Photoshop before, these free Photoshop tutorials are best suited for you.
Most of the time, it’s a good idea to go right to the source when it comes to documentation. Adobe doesn’t disappoint either, as they offer a variety of basic and beginner-level guides right on their support site. All lessons are available in video format and tend to be anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes in length — perfect for quick sessions.
Adobe’s tutorial will walk you through using the software, changing image size, working with layers, making unique selections and much more.
You may recognize Udemy as a learning hub for all things digital and technology-based. In general, it’s a great place to learn a ton of new subjects, especially coding and software development. But the site also has a decent selection of Photoshop tutorials, both paid and free.
Most of the free tutorials introduce users to the basics of Photoshop, making them great for beginners or first-timers. One of the best options here is Beginner Photoshop to HTML5 and CSS3, especially if you intend to get into web or graphic design later.
Ben Willmore — the instructor for this particular course — has some of the best online and digital lessons out there and over 20 years of teaching under his belt. Adobe Photoshop CC will walk you through using the popular photo-editing suite in incredible detail.
So many guides promise to be “complete,” but this one truly is. You’ll learn the ropes and work your way through a variety of practices until you’re proficient with the software. All lessons provide a step-by-step walk-through of what you’re doing across more than 21 HD-quality videos.
GCF is slightly different than some of the other offerings here because it doesn’t provide a library of tutorials. Instead, it’s one long tutorial comprised of 10 core lessons and five bonus lessons. You’ll start with the first and work your way through each segment until the end, where you’ll take a quiz to test everything you’ve retained. All topics are related to beginner-level projects and work.
Admittedly, Photoshop Cafe blurs the line between beginner and intermediate-level courses. But the reason it belongs in the beginner section is because of how through each lesson is. It doesn’t matter if the topic involves a basic action or something more advanced — you’ll get a detailed step-by-step guide from start to end.
Beginner-level students may also be interested in some of the free Photoshop tutorials below. Many of them do include basic tutorials, but they’re in this section because they also offer lessons on some more advanced techniques.
You should know that PHLearn offers a mix of both paid and free tutorials. Most of the premium lessons are for more advanced subjects, however. If you like the free content, you can always explore further.
That said, there are quite a few intermediate-level guides available for free as well. You can learn things like matching skin tones, adding colored backgrounds to portraits, removing acne and blemishes, creating a cinemagraph (moving image) and much more.
You can’t beat Photoshop Essentials’ impressive library of tutorials — and for free, no less. There are some basic guides here, but a lot of the projects are more advanced and suitable for Photoshop familiars. You’ll learn to work with layer masks, how to add contact and copyright info, how to add borders and even how to use some of the more advanced tools.
The projects you’ll find on Design Stacks deal with more specific projects, a lot of them suitable for intermediate to advanced photo editors. You’ll learn, for example, how to create a photo manipulation of a lonely child complete with fantasy-like background effects. In another lesson, you’ll learn how to create a fashion-inspired digital collage. Of course, you can take the things you learn and apply them to your own projects later.
9. Sleek Lens
All the tutorials you’ll find at Sleek Lens deal with photography directly as opposed to web or graphic design. That doesn’t mean the guides aren’t valuable to everyone. In fact, you can learn some pretty advanced concepts with their guides, like color toning mastery, removing fly-aways, manipulating photos to add smiles and more.
10. Photoshop Nation
At Photoshop Nation, you’ll find a wide variety of free intermediate to advanced lessons. All tutorials are available on YouTube in video format. The lessons are presented well and easy to follow, with a ton of different topics to explore. Learn how to add hologram effects, generate cracked skin, incorporate smoke effects and much more.
Expert and Beyond
If you’ve mastered Photoshop and related applications and you just want to know how to do something specific, these are the best free Photoshop tutorials for you.
11. Photoshop Forums
While not all the content available on Photoshop Forums is expert-level, the way in which it’s presented does speak to someone who’s familiar with the software. Like any social forum, you’ll find boards divided into various topics, all related to things you can do in Photoshop. In the “manipulation” board, for example, you’ll find a whole slew of information about altering images, adding content and more.
It might be suitable for more resourceful beginners, but the nature of the site means you’re likely looking for something specific when you browse — if and when you do check out the forums.
Creative Bloq has put together a decent list of Photoshop tutorials for advanced users. In a dropdown at the top of the page, you’ll find additional intermediate and beginner tutorials too. However, because there’s no shortage of basic guides, just their more advanced content is mentioned here. You can learn tasks like creating a glowing neon text effect, building your own custom brushes library and converting photos into 3D animations.
Tuts+ tutorials range from beginner to expert, but they’re divided by task categories based on what you’ll be doing in Photoshop. Many of the tutorials deal with professional-grade projects like advertisements, graphic arts and more.
More of a compilation than a resource itself, this list of 100 Photoshop-related tutorials deals with incredibly advanced tasks. Most of the tutorials are hosted elsewhere — Tuts+ even shows up — but the collection is so good it deserves a mention here.
Tutorials include creating a dark female character, creating stunning product shots with lighting effects and even adding a fake X-ray effect.
15. PSD Vault
If you know your way around Photoshop, PSD Vault is the place to go to learn advanced techniques and processes. All tutorials are free, comprehensive and deal with super advanced projects like creating fantastical elements or design effects.
The site is regularly updated with new tutorials, some even related to current properties and media. One tutorial, for example, walks users through creating a “Sekiro”-like rusty text effect. You may or may not know, but Sekiro Shadows Die Twice is a recently released video game at the time of this writing — as in, within the last few weeks.
Get Started or Keep Going With Photoshop
Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been working with Photoshop for years, surely you’ll find a resource here that can help you learn more. It’s always good to have a point of reference when you’re learning something new, or even when you’re attempting to branch out in terms of talent and skill.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks in the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dog, Bear.