Photo Editing Basics for Beginners

Photo Editing Basics for Beginners


You don’t need to be a photoshop wizard to know the basics of editing a photo. People often spend an unnecessary amount of money to get some simple images edited. Things that would take only a few seconds to complete.

Surely, when it comes to doing anything commercial, professional works are always desired. For those scenarios, it is best to get photos edited using an expert company. Otherwise, read through this entire article to know how to get things done on your own. We will be covering the basics that people often need for making corrections to an image.

Also, please note that we won’t be throwing a bunch of theories that will make it hard for you to understand. It will be a basic photography editing guide, but very effective for most essential needs.


Simple cropping can make a lot of difference in the looks of your photos. Sometimes it is useful for removing unnecessary objects and sometimes is used because of requirements. If you are an Instagram user, you will need photos to be 1:1 square ratio. Instead of relying on Instagram’s cropping tools, you can use Photoshop’s tool to make precise cropping. Not only Instagram but for any other reasons, knowing how to crop photos is a necessity.

Cropping can make the overall look of your image better by removing unnecessary objects. Such as, removing the limbs of people that got captured while shooting. Other reasons for cropping might be for using the rule of thirds. You can achieve that by using Photoshop’s cropping tool. By default, it will show grid lines that are divided into 9 blocks. Placing the subject at the intersection will help you to achieve the concept of the rule of thirds.

First, open the desired photo in Photoshop. Select the Crop Tool. It will make a selection by default, then either place your own dimensions or select the preset that’s available. See the images below for reference. We will be going with a 1:1 image ratio.

Step 1 photoshop image cropping

Make sure to uncheck the delete cropped pixels. Many beginners face difficulty with this issue. If delete cropped pixels is unchecked, it will let you make adjustments to the image at a later point. Otherwise, if it is checked, the effect will be permanent.

Step 2 delete cropped pixel


Resizing is another very common thing people often require. Probably the image needs to be used for billboard advertisement, in that case, images can be resized to fit the appropriate resolution. One issue, however, is that, the larger you get your images to be, the more definitions you lose. The picture often comes out to be blurry and filled with noise. If the picture comes out really high quality out of the camera, or if a RAW image is used, the output is usually better when resizing.

Understanding how to resize effectively is important. People often make mistake by just using the default resampling for enlarging that just ruins the image quality.  Follow these steps below to get the best resizing that Photoshop has to offer.

Open the image in Photoshop and go to Image>Image size.

Step 3 photoshop image resizing menu

This will popup a canvas. From there in the resample dropdown, select Preserve Details 2.0 and adjust the noise slider as you see fit. And hit OK.

Step 4 photoshop image size popup menu

Here is the Before and After. The resized one looks better than the original. Please note, the Preserve Details 2.0, as of making this article, is the best resizing algorithm Photoshop currently has.

Step 5 photoshop image enlargement comparison


Focused images always look great. It looks high quality, clear, and more professional. But over-sharpening can put a halo into the edges of objects featured in the image. Therefore, knowing how to sharpen properly is essential. Photoshop offers a few sharpening tools, but to keep things simple, we will be showing the easier one.

Once you’ve opened the image in Photoshop, go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask.

Step 6 photoshop unsharp mask option

You will see a popup window. We would recommend you to manipulate the Amount and the Radius and leave the Threshold slider as it is. That’s because it can get quite complicated if you don’t know what you are doing. Also, remember not to over-sharpen, it will produce an unwanted halo effect.

Step 7 photoshop unsharp mask popup menu

Brightness correction

Photos might come out darker or overexposed. That’s perfectly natural doesn’t matter how professional you are. Photoshop offers various tools that you can take advantage of for performing this task. But again, for simplicity, we will be looking into easier tools. But using the brightness/contrast tool is too basic and out of date. We will be using the Levels tool to do this task. The Curves tool is also an excellent option, but that one is complicated and can make you overwhelmed very soon.

So, once you’ve got your image opened, click on the Adjustment layer icon that’s on the bottom of the Layers panel. From there select Levels.

Step 8 photoshop levels selection

When it comes to these Levels and Curves tools, a lot of theories can be explained. But at a beginning level, all you need to know is that the right side of the Histogram represents White and the left represents Black.

Now, change the three sliders on the Histogram. The middle slider is for the mid-tones, you can leave it as it is. Only change the black and white, which should be enough.

step 9 photoshop levels popup

Here is the Before and After.

Step 10 photoshop exposure correction before and after

Vibrance and Saturation

A little bit of extra color can add more life to the image. Due to various reasons, colors can get a bit dull. To fix that, we have the vibrance tool. There is also the more complicated Hue/Saturation tool, which we will look into in the next editing process. But for now, let’s look at how you can add back the colors or intensify the overall looks of the image.

Now, after opening the image in Photoshop, from the adjustment layers option, select Vibrance. This will open the vibrance slide popup. There you will see the vibrance slider and the saturation slider.

step 12 photoshop vibrance slider

First, try to manipulate the vibrance, if that doesn’t do much, then change the saturation. The sliders are very simple to use and don’t need any theoretical explanations.

Here’s the Before and After.

step 13 photoshop color correction before and after

Color changing

Sometimes you just want to know how a particular product or dress will look in different colors. Or maybe the colors got washed out because of some technical or photographic issues. Maybe while manufacturing a product, the colors got dull and you want to bring back the colors. All can be easily done using Photoshop.

However, depending on the complexity of the image, the process will vary. We will be going over the easier process and skip the advanced one for later. There are several tools for adjusting the colors, but we will be using the Hue/Saturation tool in this example. It is the easiest to get started and see the output instantly.

Like the previous steps, open the image in Photoshop and select the Hue/Saturation panel from the layers adjustment option.

step 14 hue and saturation slider

Now, firstly, you can just move the Hue slider, which will instantly change the colors. You can try it out, it’s quite fun and does produce some interesting results.

To make a precise color selection, click on the hand icon above the Hue slider. Then click on the canvas on top of the color that you want to target. Finally, again manipulate the hue slider and the other two sliders.

step 15 hue and saturation slider hand tool

You will quickly realize that more colors are getting selected other than the one you want. The easy fix for that would be to use a layer mask.

The Hue/Saturation slider by default will have a layer mask, all you need to do is just hit (CTRL + I). This will invert the layer mask. Now, select the Brush tool and make sure the foreground color is white. Then just brush through the areas that you want to make the colors visible.

step 16 invert layer mask

Note: When using layer masks, Black will hide whatever you brush on and White will make it visible.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to edit at least the basics is important if you use social media often or if you are in the graphics-related industry. It will help you understand how much should it cost and how long it takes to do a particular task. And also help you make better decisions regarding such jobs. One thing to note is that mastering the basics is easy, but knowing how to edit professionally can take a lot of time, effort, and dedication. If you have that time, then best of luck, otherwise consider getting your work outsourced to save both time and money.

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