Photoshop for web design: 20 pro tips

For many web designers, Adobe's Creative Cloud suite – and Photoshop in particular – play an integral part in the website creation process. Whether you're creating website mockups or designing individual site elements, Photoshop is a great option.

Here are some web design tips that you maybe didn't know that Adobe's venerable photo editor was capable of – and may prove very useful for your next project.

01. Use grid systems

Grid systems for Photoshop

There are a number of tools to help you use grids in Photoshop

Grid systems can save a lot of headaches in web design. Try using resources like Cameron McEfee's GuideGuide Photoshop extension to make custom grids easy and accurate.

02. Get it all out

One of the best practices for successful web design (and time management) is to place all your elements on your Photoshop canvas before you start getting dirty with design.

Web designers often jump right into one particular area without considering the rest of page and the weight of content. Getting the rough framework into place early on will help you make smarter decisions and avoid larger edits later.

03. Explore custom document presets

Photoshop comes loaded with a number of web-focused presets. Check them out!

Hit cmd+N to open the New Document window. The Preset menu contains basic web and mobile presets but is missing many common dimensions for a variety of grid systems, banners, iOS and Android devices. Take a few moments to fill the missing areas.

04. Customise default type

Close all open documents. Open the Character palette to select your preferred font family, weight, spacing and colour. No more default Myriad!

05. Make your vectors crisp

Keep your vector objects crisp. With the Rectangle tool (U) selected, open the Geometry options menu in the options bar. Check the Snap to Pixels option.

06. Create dotted lines

Dotted lines in Photoshop

Creat dotted lines in Photoshop. It's one of those things you'll always have to do.

Select the Brush tool (B), then open the Brush Presets palette, followed by the drop-down menu in the upper-right corner. Select Square Brushes and hit Append.

Now select the Hard Square 1 Pixel brush. Switch to the Brushes palette and hit Brush Tip Shape, adjusting Spacing to 300%. On your canvas, hold Shift while dragging the brush horizontally or vertically to create a crisp dotted line.

07. Wrap text easily

Using a quick workaround, Photoshop can apply Text Wrap functions similar to InDesign's. Select the Rectangle tool (U). In the Options bar set the fill to Paths, set the shape to Rectangle tool and select 'Add to path area' (or press +).

On your canvas, draw a large rectangle over the content area. Back in the Options bar, change the 'Add to path area' to 'Subtract from path area' (or press -). On your canvas with the outline of the original rectangle showing, draw an intersecting rectangle where the text will wrap.

Select the Type tool (T), and click inside the large rectangle to convert the shape to a Type Work Path to fill with type. You can further refine the Type Work Path dimensions with the Rectangle tool (U) and the Direct Selection tool (A).

08. Create quick colour fills

Quick Photoshop fill

Certain key commands come in useful over and over again. Quick fill is one of them

Hit alt+Delete to fill text, shapes and layers with the selected foreground colour. Press cmd+Delete to fill an area with the selected background colour. Hit D to revert to the default black and white, and press X to swap the foreground and background colours.

09. Stay organised

Use cmd+G to group layers and help you stay organised and focused. Grouping your content areas and components – such as navigation, featured content areas, supporting components and footers – separately will save you headaches throughout the design and development process of a project.

10. Get smart

Using Smart Objects (go to 'Filter > Convert for Smart Filters', and ctrl or right-click 'Layer > Convert to Smart Object') wisely can really boost your workflow throughout the design process. Converting larger photographs and vector objects into Smart Objects retains original image quality after scaling, rotating, and skewing.

Next page: 10 more web design tips for Photoshop...

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Dan Rose is the creator of Photoshop Etiquette. He's an interface designer at WSOL, conference speaker and pioneer of Syracuse Sync.