Choices, choices, choices. That’s what Adobe Photoshop offers designers and photographers. It’s a powerful application that is versatile and can sometimes be overwhelming. With so many ways to proudce the same effect, it can be difficult for users to understand which technique is the best to use.

Developing good Photoshop habits allows you to create organized files that are easily manipulated, will save you time in the long run and will be easy to navigate through.

Here are 8 Photoshop techniques every designer should be aware of.

1. Use More than One Layer
If you work solely on one layer, you will not have the flexibility to go back later and easily make changes. It is important to get into the habit of creating new layers for each image, effect or modification, and to name them accordingly.

2. Stay Organized
Another good habit to get into is grouping layers that go together in a folder. Doing this will save you from having to click through layers to find out which is which, whether it is now or months down the road. This will also be helpful if you are collaborating with other designers who will be using the same files.

3. Learn Key Commands
Having a firm grasp of key commands will speed up your production and allow you to be more efficient. Ideally, you should have one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard. Here are some of the most frequently used key commands to try out and memorize:

B – Activates the Brush Tool
Ctrl + Z  – Undo
Tab –  Hides/Shows Palettes
[  – Decreases Brush Size
] – Increases Brush Size
Shift + [ – Decrease Brush Softness
Shift + ] – Increase Brush Softness
Ctrl + Tab – Next Point on Curves Adjustment
Ctrl + Shift + N – New Layer
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + N – New Layer No Dialog
Ctrl + Shift + C – Copy Merged
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + E – Stamp Visible
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + K – Show Keyboard Commands

4. Know How to Navigate
Instead of wasting time trying to get to a certain part of your design with the scroll bars on the tops and sides, make yourself more familiar with the space bar. This goes hand in hand with learning the key commands. Clicking the space bar will activate the hand tool and allow you to pan the image around with that. Below are more key commands that will help with navigating through your document:

Z + Drag Left or Right – Zoom in/out
Hold H Key + Click – Bird’s Eye View
Command/Control + 0 – Fit to Screen
Command/Control + 1 – Actual Size

5. Use Smart Objects
Smart Objects are layers that contain image data from raster or vector images, such as Photoshop or Illustrator files. When you place an object into Photoshop, a dialog box pops up and you are given the option to place the object as a smart object amongst a few other options. Using the Smart Object option is typically the better option. By doing this, you will be able to transform it as many times as you want without losing quality. You want to make sure that the smart object is at its highest available size and quality when you place it in the file.

6. Use Smart Filters
When you apply a filter to a pixel layer, that’s it — the pixels are changed. But, when you apply a filter to a Smart Object, you create a Smart Filter.
With Smart Filters, you can apply one or more filters to a Smart Object. If you change your mind, you can go back and turn the filters off, change them or modify their settings without having to revert to a saved copy of the file or using the History panel.

7. Use Masks
The two principal types of masks in Photoshop – layer masks and clipping masks – are great tools to make effective changes to a photo without making them permanent.

Layer masks use values of gray to assign levels of transparency to specific portions of a layer or group of layers, while clipping masks use the transparency of one layer to define that of a different layer or group of layers.

Instead of permanently deleting a portion of a photo or image, using a mask allows you to remove the part of an image or add an effect that you want without making it permanent. Permanent changes to a photo mean you have to start over with the original if you are not happy with those changes.

8.Save, Save, Save!
I cannot stress it enough: SAVE! Save your work frequently to help prevent data loss if Photoshop crashes or something happens to your computer. It is also important to save as a Photoshop file in addition to any other file type you might need because the Photoshop files are your working files and will preserve all of your layers.