What is Adobe Photoshop and what does it do?

What is Adobe Photoshop and what does Photoshop do?

What is Adobe Photoshop? It is photo editing software for image editing and photo retouching, and for design work, artistic work and creating web and social media images.

Photoshop is used to edit pixel based images, such as digital photographs and scanned images and artwork.

Circle Tree - deep purple - Photoshop manipulated image
Circle Tree – deep purple – Photoshop manipulated image

What is Photoshop normally used for?

Photoshop’s main use is in photo editing, image enhancement and photo retouching. It can also be used for design and to create images such as textures and patterns.

At its most basic level, Photoshop can be used to crop and resize photographs. It can enhance image brightness and can colour-correct images, making them look more natural and more appealing. It can change colour modes (save RGB images for web and screen use, and CMYK images for printing) and can save files in a range of different image file formats for different jobs.

Photoshop is used to prepare images for use with desktop publishing software, saving in the correct colour mode and file type to create images which are ready to be used in documents such as leaflets, brochures, magazines and books.
Photoshop is also used to create images and designs for web sites, social media sites and marketing emails. It is used to resize and optimise images and save them in the correct format ready to upload onto your web site.

You can create composite images with Photoshop, cutting out sections of images and putting them together with other images to create montages and composites. Examples include: add a person into a photo; place a product on a different background; remove unwanted items; add a better sky.

Who uses Photoshop?

Photoshop is the often regarded as essential software for anyone working with photographs or doing design work – especially if creating designs which are based on photographs or pixel based images.

Below are some typical examples of the type of work done with Photoshop by various creatives.

Photographers use Photoshop for image enhancement and retouching, and often for creative editing of photographs.

Graphic designers use Photoshop for image enhancement, photo retouching and photo editing, creative editing of photographs, and preparing images for print or web.

Desktop publishers use Photoshop for image enhancement and editing, image cut-outs, clipping paths, and to create print-ready images and designs for importing into desktop publishing software.

Web site designers use Photoshop to enhance and edit photographs and images, to crop and resize, and to optimise images and save ready for use on web sites.

Artists use Photoshop to create artwork or to scan hand-drawn artwork then retouch and add colour and effects within Photoshop.

Video editors use Photoshop to edit and retouch individual video frames or to create a frame with images or text, to import into the video clip.

Photoshop is used for so many photography and design related jobs, it really is regarded as the most essential software by many professionals.

A brief history of Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop version 1, was first made available in 1990 on the Mac, and was made available for Windows with version 2.5 in the mid 1990s. It originally had no layers and once a section of image was placed onto another image and deselected it was not possible to edit it further or easily remove it.

Layers were introduced in version 3 of Photoshop in 1996. This was a fantastic improvement and allowed a certain amount of non-destructive editing. However, at the time most computers had very limited memory and couldn’t cope with the demands of large multi-layered images. It was a few years later and a few more versions on before most computers could run Photoshop and other design software well.

Photoshop is now highly sophisticated software and can create incredibly complex images and designs.

Adobe Photoshop version history

Photoshop 1 – first Mac version
Photoshop 2 – added CMYK support
Photoshop 2.5 – first Windows version
Photoshop 3 – first version to have Layers
Photoshop 4
Photoshop 5 – added Layer Effects and editable type
Photoshop 6 (*adc *apc)
Photoshop 7 (*adc *apc)
*adc = part of Adobe Design Collection (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat)
*apc = part of Adobe Publishing Collection
(Pagemaker, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat)

Adobe Creative Suite
Photoshop CS (Photoshop 8)
Photoshop CS2 (Photoshop 9)
Photoshop CS3 (Photoshop 10)
Photoshop CS4 (Photoshop 11)
Photoshop CS5 (Photoshop 12)
Photoshop CS6 (Photoshop 13)
Photoshop CS6 was the last version to be available on disc.

Adobe Creative Cloud
Photoshop CC (Photoshop 14)
Photoshop CC 2014 (Photoshop 15)
Photoshop CC 2015 (Photoshop 16)
Photoshop CC 2017 (Photoshop 18)
Photoshop CC 2018 (Photoshop 19)
Photoshop CC 2019 (Photoshop 20)
Photoshop CC 2020 (Photoshop 21)
Photoshop CC 2021 (Photoshop 22)