development & design

My Photoshop Setup

I am a minimalist, it helps me stay focused free of clutter and distraction. There is a lot of clutter in Photoshop that I try to trim down as much as possible. I’ve also picked up a lot of plugins and best practices over the years that I’d like to share to help improve your Photoshop workflow for interface design.

First of all I keep a very clean UI with locked elements. If you drag a panel, like the layers, to a screen edge it will lock to that edge. So I have the tools locked to the left and layers locked to the right. The number of layers in my documents get huge so I like to give layers as much room as possible so I don’t put any panels above or below them. There are a couple of other panels I use frequently that I have locked to the layers panel but minimized. This keeps them out of the way but clicking on the icon shows the full panel, then I can simply click on the icon again to dismiss it.

I also hide the Application Bar, I have no use for this bar and so hiding it frees up some useful space. You need all the pixels you can get when designing retina apps!

Going down the list of hidden panels, first are my actions. I don’t use any of my own actions because Marc Edwards has made actions for everything I’ve needed! The one I used the most is Don't colour manage I run that constantly to make sure my documents don’t contain any color profiles.

There are some shadow actions that are from Norm’s UI Toolkit. This leads nicely into the styles I use, also from Norm ;) I removed all the Adobe provided ones cause they are crap, I’ve done this everywhere where there are Adobe examples: gradients, patterns…

Next are the panel for text, they are the standard ones, nothing exciting but useful to be able to quickly pull up and make changes.

Next we get to my favorite Photoshop extension GuideGuide by Cameron McEfee. This extension helps you place guides and make grids, so useful for building and laying out interfaces in Photoshop!

Last, my newest addition to the panel, a new extension that adds an awesome new color picker to Photoshop: Coolorus.

Almost everything I do in Photoshop revolves around pixel perfect vectors, one of the best ways to achieve pixel perfection is to use the Snap to Pixels option on most of the vector shapes.

Unfortunately this option is not on all of the shapes, most notably circles. So to draw circles that snap to pixels I keep my radius ridiculously high which produces pixel perfect circles.

Norm’s UI Toolkit includes some great custom shapes that I use a lot, especially the social media icons.

Outside of Photoshop I always replace the default icon with one from Sebastiaan de With, and whenever I’m working on iPhone or iPad designs I always have Skala Preview running.

I hope this was useful and I hope to put together some more Photoshop tips. If you haven’t already read the articles on stop what you are doing an go read them all right now!

Design, Photoshop, workflow

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