What Is Adobe Photoshop and What Can It Do? Quickstart for Beginners

adobe photoshop

Have you ever heard someone say “That is definitely photoshopped”? If you work in the creative industry as a designer, photographer, art director, or any of the other industry roles, you know this is pretty normal to hear. However, if you don’t currently work in the industry but are interested in pursuing a career in visual arts then you should probably know about Photoshop.

Photoshop is a photo editing and graphics creation software that was developed by the company, Adobe. Photoshop offers a wide variety of image editing features as well as the capability to create complex graphics. Photoshop has become the industry standard for many creatives as it is very versatile and is usually one of the first programs many learn to use.

In the rest of this article, I’ll go into more detail about Adobe Photoshop, why you should consider using it, and how you can get your hands on it.

What Is Photoshop?

Adobe Photoshop is software used for editing photographs, compositing digital art, animating, and graphic design. Adobe photoshop comes with professional tools that make it easier for artists to bring their ideas to life. One of the major advantages of using Adobe Photoshop is its ability to create multiple layers that can be altered independently of each other. New tools and features are always being added as Adobe gathers feedback from artists on ways to improve Photoshop.

Who Created Photoshop?

Photoshop was originally created by two brothers, John Knoll and Thomas Knoll. In 1987, Thomas Knoll was a student at the University of Michigan studying engineering but he was also interested in photography. Thomas’s interest in photography stemmed from his father, Glen, and they even had a darkroom in their basement. Thomas’s father was a professor at a local college and had access to one Apple II Plus computer. One day with his engineering knowledge, Thomas wrote a script on his father’s Apple computer that allowed him to turn monochromatic images into grayscale. After this initial script, Thomas continued to develop additional processes that applied effects to his images on the screen. Thomas’s brother, John, at the time, had worked at George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic. Once he saw what Thomas had created, he encouraged Thomas to turn his programs into a fully operational image editor. With Thomas and John working together on the project, they worked to further develop the application and released the first iteration of Photoshop in 1988 under the original name “Image Pro”.

Who Owns Photoshop?

Today Photoshop is owned by Adobe but that wasn’t always the case. After Thomas and John first released Image Pro, they were looking to partner with larger companies to expand the distribution of the software. It didn’t take long for them to win over the Adobe team and in February 1990, Adobe released Adobe Photoshop 1.0.

What Can Photoshop Do?

Today, Adobe Photoshop is used by a variety of artists and creative professionals within the industry. Photoshop is software that can be used for photography, graphic design, digital art, and more. Below I have provided a few examples of how Photoshop is used to create amazing work.


Source: Christian PS Art

Graphic Design

Source: My Fund Action


Source: Brown Paper Bag

Product Mockup

Source: Pinterest

Is Learning Photoshop Worth It?

Learning how to use Adobe Photoshop can be very valuable to not only those who want to build a career in the creative industry but also to those who aren’t. As social media and creating content become such a big part of businesses, any experience with graphic applications like Adobe Photoshop will give you an advantage when applying to your next big job opportunity. When creative companies post an open role within their team, they will almost always list experience with Adobe Photoshop as a requirement. Adobe Photoshop is very versatile and allows creatives to complete a wide variety of tasks with it. Adobe Photoshop can sometimes be the only program that a creative will ever need in their repertoire. Learning Photoshop can open up new opportunities in a number of fields. Once you have a solid understanding of Photoshop, this will also put you in a great position to learn and use other Adobe programs. Some tools and shortcuts are very similar throughout all of the Adobe programs. Teaching yourself to use other Adobe programs outside of Photoshop will allow you to sharpen your skills and open your artwork up to creating something unique.

Is Adobe Photoshop Free?

Unfortunately, Adobe Photoshop is not free and requires you to pay for a subscription to use it. However, you can try Adobe Photoshop free for 7 days before paying for a full subscription to ensure it is right for you. To get started using Adobe Photoshop you will have to register and sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud account. Using that link to create an Adobe Creative Cloud will give you a free 7-day trial to test out Photoshop as well as a bunch of other really awesome Adobe programs. Once your 7-day trial is up you will have to choose a Creative Cloud plan to continue using the Adobe software.

Which Photoshop Plan Should I Pick?

This can be slightly overwhelming because there are a few different Creative Cloud plans to pick from according to what your area of interest is.

Photoshop Computer Requirements

Adobe Photoshop is available on both Mac and Windows computers, however not every computer is built the same. It is important to do your research before purchasing a computer to ensure you have the right hardware components for the computer processor and graphics cards. Adobe has provided an in-depth page here that covers the more technical aspect of these components but if you’re too lazy to open another tab, don’t worry, I’ll walk you through them. Adobe recommends that your computer processor should have at least 2.0 GHz of processing speed and 64-bit support. The processor is essentially the brain of the computer. The processor helps the computer complete the intensive tasks that you may run with Photoshop. The faster and more updated the processor, the faster your computer will complete the task. I recommend that you buy the best and fastest processor you can afford at the time of purchasing your computer as it is more difficult to upgrade a processor at a later time. Nowadays Apple has made it impossible to replace the processor for most of its computers.

When it comes to RAM, again, if you are able to buy more then do so. RAM is what allows your computer to handle multiple tasks at once. When working as a designer or digital artist, using multiple Adobe applications at the same time can become a very normal practice. Adobe applications can be very taxing on any computer and more RAM helps to complete those tasks quickly. Having more RAM connected to your processor will ensure you have a highly optimized powerhouse computer to handle any and all Photoshop tasks. Ever since I was able to afford my own computer, I never purchased a computer with less than 16GB of RAM. Most computers nowadays come with at least 8GB of RAM which is sufficient. The one nice thing about RAM unlike a processor is that you can replace the RAM and add more after purchasing it. However, make sure to check this as again, companies like Apple have made it impossible to replace the RAM in their computers. It is always worth double checking!

Since Photoshop and the rest of the Adobe suite of applications are used to make graphics and edit images you will need to make sure you have the right graphics card. I’ll have to admit that this was never something I knew all too much about as almost every Mac computer I’ve purchased came with a compatible graphics card to handle Photoshop. On the system requirements page that Adobe provides they state you should have a graphics card with a minimum of 2GB of GPU memory. Again, this is not something I am super familiar with so make sure to do your research before purchasing.

One last component that I want to make sure to mention is the hard drive size of your computer. Storage is important when using applications like Photoshop to create graphics as the files you create will ultimately take up space on your computer. Over time this will slow your computer down. Giving your computer enough storage space will ensure your computer stays snappy as you can continue to create. Most of the base options for computers now come with a minimum of 256GB of space. This can be fine but I have found that 256GB of storage space can go pretty quickly and once it is filled up, you will be forced to move files onto a separate hard drive or even begin to delete files. Again, in the situation of hard drive space, more is better and I recommend 500GB and up.

Questions I Get Asked A Lot

Can You Open PDFs in Adobe Photoshop?

Yes, you can! When you open a PDF in photoshop you will be asked to choose which page you would like to edit if there are multiple pages in your PDF. Another thing to note is that unless the PDF was created to preserve layer functionality, you will not have the capability to edit text or objects within the PDF. Editing anything in the PDF would be similar to how you edit within a compressed JPG.

Can You Create Animations in Adobe Photoshop?

Yes! You can create GIFs or short animated clips using the timeline panel. When using the timeline, you create and modify each individual frame for your animation or movement. The level of animation you can achieve in Photoshop is great for short clips and small adjustments. If you would like more robust animation tools, you should check out and learn Adobe After Effects.

Can You Open AI files in Adobe Photoshop?

Yes! You can open AI files or Adobe Illustrator files in Photoshop. However, when you open an AI file in Photoshop, all of the file’s layers and components will be “rasterized” or flattened. This means you will not be able to individually alter any of the graphics within that AI file. If you do not have Adobe Illustrator downloaded to your computer then this will be the only way of opening the file in Adobe Photoshop. If you do have Adobe Illustrator on your computer, a best practice is to copy your design from illustrator and paste it into your Photoshop file as a smart object. This will create a dynamic link between the two programs and all you to alter your illustrator design while retaining its layers and components.

Can You Open SVG files in Adobe Photoshop?

Yes! However, similar to opening an AI file, if you try to open an SVG file using File > Open, the SVG file will be rasterized.


Adobe Photoshop is an amazing tool and a valuable one for creatives of all disciplines to know. It provides a great foundation for learning how to create amazing work as a creative professional and independent artist. If you have any other questions about Adobe Photoshop you can DM me on Instagram or Telegram and I will make sure to add them to this article. Also, if you enjoyed this article, consider signing up for our email newsletter. Every weekend we send you a roundup of our best website content just like this as well as podcast episodes when we release them. Thanks for reading!



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