Photoshop Beginners course

when is the Next course?


Please contact me if you would like to join a course.


I also teach Photoshop privately, one to one. 1:1 lessons can accelerate your learning of this fabulous, complex, vast program. Photoshop tuition is available for absolute beginners, just started beginners, improvers and intermediate users. I'm happy to teach a one-off lesson if there is something particular you would like to learn and I'm equally happy to teach a series of regular lessons. Lessons will be tailored to whichever version of Photoshop that you are using; CS6, CC, or Elements. Detailed handouts with screenshots are also included, as they are with my college courses.


You can download a sample handout here: Photoshop Workspace Handout


Please note that handouts have been written to support my teaching, both in a classroom and in 1:1 lessons. Handouts are not intended to be standalone, comprehensive instructions.


Introduction to the course


I've been using Photoshop since 1992 (the first version for Windows), to edit images in my photography business and I have taught many Photoshop Beginners and Next Steps courses at North Herts College. This page gives details of a beginners course.


It doesn't matter whether you are a casual user or a complete beginner to Photoshop. This course will introduce you to the essential basics of the worlds leading image editing program. You will learn how to use essential tools and techniques. Please see below for more course subjects. The images below show examples of what you would learn to do on the course. All images copyright © Glen Smith


To more fully appreciate the differences that editing can make to an image, please look at the before & after examples that show more clearly what is done in edited images and would be taught on the course. Please note that course content may vary.




Course Requirements

Photoshop and Elements are fabulous, but complex programs. You will need to be competent with general computing skills, either on a PC, or a Mac. If you are a complete beginner to computers, please contact the college about beginners computing courses.


To enrol on this course, you will need to either buy a copy of Elements, or subscribe to use a copy of Photoshop CC. See below for details.


Many students on this course use Elements (various versions), and some use Photoshop CC. This course is taught using Photoshop CS6 in the classroom, but the course is equally applicable to all versions of Photoshop or Elements.



Photoshop CC

This is the full version of the program and currently is only available via subscription, which at the time of writing, is under £10 per month. This is more than beginners need.


Photoshop CS6 is the last version of Photoshop that you could buy outright. This is the version we use on the course.


Elements - recommended for beginners

This is a consumer version of Photoshop, which contains the most used "elements" of Photoshop. It is an excellent editing program and will be all that most users will need. I recommend this for beginners.


Over time, when you become proficient in Elements, you can add significant functionality (and many of the missing "elements") at very little cost - currently around £10. If there is demand, I can explain this on the course.


You can purchase Elements from various high street stores such as PC World, or online at (where it usually sells for £60-70). The price varies and it is sometimes sold for £40-£50 or even less. If you are reading this now and considering this course in the future, but not in a hurry to buy Elements, you could go to Amazon and have a look at Elements. Amazon may then email you, to notify you of offers and you could wait. Please note I have no connection to Amazon, so cannot guarantee what they do. If I become aware of a good price, I email all my current students, to advise them.


If you have any queries, please email me:


step-by-step handouts


All classes are supported by detailed handouts, including step by step handouts for most tasks. Handouts are emailed immediately after the class.


You can download a sample handout in the following link:

Photoshop Workspace Handout


related courses


For information about other courses, please see;


Photography Beginners

Photography Next Steps

Photoshop Next Steps

Digital Painting in Photoshop


PHOTOSHOP Beginners course subjects


On this course, you will learn about key Photoshop features, tools and techniques, including;


Layers (an essential part of Photoshop)


Adjustment Layers


Making Selections

Magic Wand

Quick Selection tool

Refine Selections of hair and fur

Layer Masks

Introduction to filters

Marquee tool

Adding elements to another image

Adding, formatting and styling text in images

Layer Styles

Burn tool

Creating a montage

Repairing old and damaged photos

Create black and white photos with parts in colour

Combine bracketed images to create an HDR image (High Dynamic Range)

Combine images to create a panoramic

Useful and essential keyboard shortcuts



I also teach Photoshop privately, one to one, which will accelerate your learning. Photoshop tuition is available for absolute beginners, just started beginners, improvers and intermediate users. I'm happy to teach a one-off lesson or a series of lessons. Lessons will be tailored to whichever version of Photoshop that you are using; CS6, CC, or Elements.



before & after examples


Below are some before and after examples, demonstrating these course subjects.

Mouseover the images below, to view a before and after version showing the results of editing.

Click on the links (in red) to take you to those examples.

Improve brightness, contrast and colours

Changing a sky

Change the overall look of an image

Removing unwanted objects

Restoring old and damaged photos

Adding motion using filters

Improving colour

Change to black and white and add lighting effect

Opening closed eyes

Removing unwanted objects

Adding objects and realistic shadows

Before and After images - Simply mouseover to see the differences.


This beach image is typical of an image straight from the camera. It benefits from improvement to brightness, contrast and colours.




This image is typical of many shots where the camera can't cope with the tonal range. The sky is very bright and the ground is comparatively dark and it's not possible for the camera to show all the detail in the highlight and shadow areas. These shots can be improved by adjusting different parts of the image. In the "after" shot the sky has been darkened using a levels adjustment layer, masking off the ground, using a layer mask. Similarly, the ground has been lightened with a levels adjustment layer and the sky has been masked off using a layer mask. RAW images also allow altering different parts of an image.


This image has a pleasant blue sky and doesn't need to be changed, but the "after" image shows how you can transform a shot by changing the sky or background. The techniques used in doing this include; Magic wand using contiguous and tolerance options, refine selection by expanding or contracting, adding another photo to an existing photo, resizing layers using free transform or move tool, adjusting levels, layer mask, brush. These tools and techniques are also frequently used to edit and improve many different types of photos.


This dilapidated cottage is pretty enough, but I wanted to add more punch to the image to give it a grittier look to suit it's uncared for condition. I removed the distracting and unnecessary foreground object and replaced the bland white sky with a more interesting sky that would suit the new look. Tools and techniques used in this photo include clone stamp, duplicate layers, levels and hue/saturation adjustment layers, burning, layer blend modes.


There are often unwanted objects in images and this image shows how they can be removed, using a variety of editing tools and techniques. Some of the tools and techniques are taught on a beginners course, while other tools and techniques are more advanced and are taught on next steps courses. The image has also been straightened. Tools and techniques used in this photo include; clone stamp, duplicate layers, levels adjustment layers, hue & saturation adjustment layers, spot healing brush, spot healing tool, lasso, feathering, marquee, layer masks, copy and paste selections onto new layers, brush, crop, magic wand using tolerance & contiguous options, invert selection, layer opacity, paint bucket, transform, crop tool.


It's often fairly straightforward to improve old photos, using a variety of tools and techniques, some of which are taught on a beginners course, as they are also frequently used to improve any photo. Additional areas have also been added to the top and bottom of the image, so the image would fit a regular size photo frame for a client. It is also possible to repair photos that are very damaged, though as with many things, it takes practice to achieve better results.


Whilst I advocate always trying to get the best shot naturally and ensuring that shot is as good as you can make it, sometimes the effect you want is just not possible. It wasn't safe to propel this buggy at speed, as there was water close by and a real baby on board! Motion was added using motion blur filters and the technique also included using the quick selection tool, clone stamp, different filters, duplicate layers, layer mask, brush, elliptical marquee tool, copy and paste and tonal adjustments were made with levels and hue & saturation.


Colours can often be improved. The shot of the cheetah has a green colour cast, caused by light shining through and reflecting off the green leaves. By understanding the histogram and adjusting the individual colour channels, you can remove the colour cast.


You can change an image to black and white and with additional changes you can completely change the look and the mood of the image. The black and white image was created using the gradient tool, adding noise, duplicate layers, layer blending modes, layer opacity, levels adjustment.


This image was taken by another photographer. The brides face is from a different image and I've increased the side of the window on the right, so the final image size is not too narrow for a print.


This image was taken by another photographer who badly let down the bride and groom, providing many poor images that required editing. In this image the bride asked me to remove the glasses on the table, the handbag on the table behind her and two people behind the man on the right. Tools and techniques used in this photo include; clone stamp, duplicate layers, levels adjustment layers, hue & saturation adjustment layers, marquee, layer masks, copy and paste selections onto new layers, brush, crop. The bride was delighted with her corrected photos and sent me a case of wine and a very nice thank you letter.


Objects can be added to another photo and resized appropriately. The cat has been added to the image of grass and realistic shadows have been added.