Lesson Plans: Introduction to Photoshop

Introduction to Photoshop

Originally this lesson had a tutorial on Photoshop 7. There have been many newer versions since then and much has changed. At the time of this writing, the current version is CS6. Because of this, I have deleted the tutorial from the lesson and am including the assignments and objectives instead. You can download a PowerPoint here ppt on a more recent version of Photoshop or view tutorials online here:


Adobe has a video series on Photoshop. Photoshop Tutorials from the Web Design Library. There is a Photoshop CS6 tutorial series from Photoshop Cafe.

To buy a copy of Photoshop at education discount rates, visit the Adobe Education Store.

Copyright Dawn Pederson 2009



Students will have the opportunity to explore the painting tools: the Airbrush, paintbrush, eraser, pencil, line, gradient, paint bucket and eyedropper tool.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book. - Classroom in a Book®, the best-selling series of hands-on software training workbooks, helps you learn the features of Adobe Photoshop quickly and easily. Classroom in a Book offers what no other book or training program does—an official training series from Adobe Systems Incorporated, developed with the support of Adobe product experts.

Photoshop CS6 All-in-One For Dummies. - This latest version of Photoshop has a few new tricks up its sleeve and Adobe Photoshop CS5 For Dummies will teach you how to use them. From the basics like getting your images into and out of Photoshop to enhancing, cropping, and color correction, it’s all here!

Photoshop CS6: The Missing Manual. - Photoshop CS6 is truly amazing, but it can also be overwhelming if you’re just getting started. This book makes learning Photoshop a breeze by explaining things in a friendly, conversational style—without technical jargon. After a thorough introduction to the program, you’ll delve deep into Photoshop’s secrets with expert tips and practical advice you can use every day.


photoshop dashboard


See student examples on the Photoshop Gallery page.

Assignment #1:

Students will create an original work using these tools. This will be printed in black and white. Students will also create their image either by 1) coloring in the print with color pencils or 2) recreating and enhancing the art on paper.


Assignment #2:

Create a drawing using the painting tools.

  1. Do your drawing on paper first.

  2. Try to recreate your drawing on the computer

  3. Compare the two. Remember that it takes a lot of time to get used to manipulating the mouse. The skills used here will help for future projects.

Digital Painting

Students will gain knowledge to choose and apply colors using the tools learned in the previous lesson. They will also learn about the blending tools.

Moving Paint

Students will learn to manipulate the paint like a painter as well as some darkroom techniques. Students will learn to use the blending tools.

Selection Tools

Students will learn several ways to select a piece of a picture. Students will use their knowledge of these tools to manipulate a photograph into a new image.

The Selection tools are: the Marquee tools, the Lasso tools, and the Magic Wand.

Assignment #3:

Use the selection tools on an existing photo. Select, cut, copy, paste to create a new picture.


Often you find that your picture is not the correct size or shape for you needs. You may need to change the size, straighten it, tilt it, reorient the objects (direction) or put something upside down. These transformations and more can be done in Photoshop.


Assignment #4:

  1. Use one of the photos that come with the program such as the skull or bottles. Have the students use the selection tools to select just one bottle of just the skull.

  2. Delete the background. Make sure the students do not save changes to the original photo.

  3. Create a composition pasting at least 5 images to their canvas while using at least 3 different transformations.

Choose a simple image that can be isolated for a repeat design. To this design, add an appropriate title using type.

Add a background color to your picture. This can be done by going to your first Layer and adding color if you did not begin with color.

Choose an appropriate word to add using the type tool. Work on the spacing and color of your type to make it work with your design. Remember, we print in black and white so you need to think about the contrast.


Period_____ Project #3


Repeat Design

Assignment #5:

Choose a simple image that can be isolated for a repeat design. To this design, add an appropriate title using type.

Explain the steps you used to isolate your photographic image from its background.

2. How can you control the placement of your image to create your pattern?
3. How was color added to your background?
4. How did you apply the type?
5. Are you satisfied with your completed image? Explain.
6. What could you have done to improve your design?



One of the fun applications of Photoshop is the use of the many filters. You can create many different effects ranging from changing a photograph to look like a painting to distorting the photograph in swirls or waves.

This lesson will involve some exploration on the part of the students. They are to choose one photo to work from. This can be from their own disk or on the hard drive. Students will create a reference file of the different filtered effects. They will take this knowledge and create a design for a book cover using one or layered filters as well as type.


Assignment #6:

Select one photo from the clip art photos that comes with Photoshop. Using your selection tools select different areas of the photo and apply one filter to it. Do this on ten areas of the photo. On at least three areas, apply a second (or more) filter. Notice how some filters distort the image beyond recognition.


Book Cover Design

Assignment #7:

What is a book cover? What is it used for? What kind of information must be included on it? Think of these questions as you create sketches for an original book cover design. Your sketches are your method of visual brainstorming. They can be as tight (detailed and carefully rendered) or as rough (simple shapes, figures) as you want. The sketches can include words and other notations (such as which filters you want to use).

Once you decide on a sketch, start to acquire the necessary photographs for your art. These can be taken from the Internet or they can be scanned onto your directory.



  • Size: 5" x 7" (12.7 x 17.7 cm)

  • Show evidence of filter use. Be careful not to over filter and lose your images.

  • Include a title.

  • Include the author – you. It is not necessary to write ‘by’ before the author’s name.

  • The final art will be printed in color. Include your sketches when you hand in your log sheet. You do not have to do any additional sketching.

CD Cover Design

Assignment #8:

Now is the chance to put together all we have learned so far and create a CD cover. You can use an existing group or, even better, make up a group. Perhaps you are the latest musical rage. For this assignment, go online to obtain photos. Make sure that you are not copying any logos, existing CD covers, illustrations or typography from the Internet. Collect photos of your chosen musician. Make use of layers, typography, and different opacities. You can filter, select parts of photos, transform images and have some fun with the cover.



  • Size: 4.752 inches (12 cm)

  • Use of at least two photographs to create your CD

  • Include the artist and title

  • If time allows, create a back cover.

  • The finished art will be printed and placed into actual jewel boxes.

Currency Design

Assignment #9:

You are an important dignitary in a new country. It has been suggested that new tender be designed incorporating your photograph. To make sure the currency cannot be counterfeited you must use complex patterns in it as well. Design this currency.



  • Size minimum: 3" x 5" (7.6 x 12.7 cm)

  • Full color

  • Your photograph must appear in it. Make sure you use the selection tools to isolate the head. You can use the picture within a shape or...

  • Pattern(s) in the background

  • A denomination

  • A country

  • Your imagination

  • Log sheet upon completion.

  • If you finish the front, you may work on the back.



Self Portrait

Assignment #10:

You have been commissioned to create a self-portrait for an upcoming museum exhibition. Using a photo of yourself either scanned into the computer or taken with a digital camera, create this self-portrait. Try to make the portrait reflective of you. Do not make the portrait unrecognizable. A lot can be done, filtering, selecting areas and repeating them, collaging things onto your final print, and...


Look at resources of other self-portraits done throughout history. Notice that the styles in the self-portraits reflect not only the artist’s personal style but also the current style of art from that time period.



How can you reflect yourself in the portrait?

How far can you take it without losing all recognition of yourself?

After you print out the computer generated version, could that be the starting point for the portrait (completed off the computer)?


Submitted by: Ken Schwab: Dollar Bill Design

1. Scan in a real dollar bill (Larger than life) front and back.
2. Have each student take from or redesign (In color) both sides.
3. They can have any picture on front, must have series #, One is to
be on more than once written as well as 1, signatures, or ?
4. Print out on gloss paper.


Photoshop & Design

Assignment #11:

You are the Art Director at a Graphic Design Studio. There have been a number of exciting jobs that just came in. You have the luxury of choosing your next job from the following.


It is time to get ready for the Spring season. The following manufacturers have hired us to create a new ad campaign promoting their merchandise. Choose one company. Create a series of ads (at least three) that relate to each other promoting the company.


Clients – Adidas, SONY, Snapple, Legos and Hägen-Daz.

Finished Size – 7" x 10" (17.7 x 25.5 cm)

Use photos as well as typography.


Plan your use of color; use of photography; other elements in the ad campaign.

What is your slogan?____________________________________________________________________

Who is your target audience?_____________________________________________________________

Which publications do you think the ad will be most successful running in?


Give the steps used in creating the ad using Photoshop? (How did you get your finished results?)




On the back, do sketches before you begin working on the computer.




(Note: Original Formatting of this lesson has been lost. All attempts have been made to get spacing right. If you like this lesson, copy and paste into your document editing software and re-format it).


I teach Photoshop--Digital Imaging I and II at a community college. I use variety of techniques for instruction and evaluation. Here is format followed:


We use Classroom in a Book for DI 1 (but any tutorial based book would work the same.) Start off with basics of "imaging, getting around Photoshop selections and layers. Along with doing the tutors, highlights on certain skills are demonstrated. I just "check off" students on the assigned lessons for accuracy in finishing them. I find most students don't know how to use the program or the skills in a tutor like this from just "going through the lesson". So these may be supplemented with "practices" using specific skills introduced in the lesson. So after a couple tutors, practices (which are basically just check off's) and demonstrations we give the student "integrating exercises" that require the student to complete a project using those skills along with selected art principles. The skills are listed in the rubric to grade them such as using specific selection tools, making clean edges, naming layers, etc. There isn't as much emphasis on the design part as the skills but this could be modified. After this, larger more comprehensive projects are assigned at midterm and final such as designing advertisements, web splash screens, etc). See integrating lesson below with rubric.


Digital Imaging I Student Name______________________________________________________


Integrating Exercise #2 "Visual Puns"

Using Masks and Pen Tool

Objective: To practice the skills from CIB vs. 7, Lessons 6 and 9

Skills: Masks: quick masks, saving & loading selections, extraction. Pen: drawing paths, editing points, saving paths, converting to selections.

Concepts: Create a visual pun from words that have a double meaning.

Design: Have point of emphasis and image dominant to background or surroundings.

Resources: Photoshop Samples folder, digital camera images, internet: or images provided by instructor.

Planning: Make up a list of some possible puns such as: strong box, watch dog, coat of arms, night mare, shoe tree, navel orange, light house.


Visualize an image from these words. (A box with muscles, a watch in shape of dog head, etc.) Look through samples file or gather other potential images. Complete 2-4 thumbnails of ideas. Get checked off by instructor.

Document: Set up a Photoshop document 5" x 7" or 7" x 5" (12.7 x 17.7 or 17.7 x 12.7 cm) with a resolution of 72 dpi, RGB. Save your image with "your name Integrate 2" into your own work folder. Selections will be made from multiple images and put into this file.


Description: Students will create visual representation of selected pun or words that sound alike. Masks and the pen tool skills are to be incorporated in the process. Write down steps describing tools and techniques used.

Students will be evaluated for completing the following activities, quality checks and degree of creativity.


Activities/Skills/Followed Directions: Points

Set up document at stated size and resolution. 5/

Created one selection and saved it with a name. 5/

Used Quick Mask to edit a selection. 4/

Used pen tool as a selection tool for at least two elements. 8/

Used extraction technique for one element. 4/

Used one other selection tool.      4/

Included a text layer. (Name of pun used.) 5/

Named and grouped layers. (Instructor initials here for check off)     5/



Met requirements for concept: Visual Pun with point of emphasis, dominance. 5/

Made clean selections with pen /mask tools. Soft/hard edges as necessary. 5/
Adjusted size of image as necessary. (Larger canvas or cropped.) 5/

Sub-Total 50/


Hand in Materials: (Project cannot be evaluated without turning in the following.)

Written documentation. Word-processed preferred.            +/-5/

Thumbnails (2) checked off by instructor. +/-5/

Project printed black/white laser with this grade sheet. (Or instructor check)   +/-5/

Subtracted points for turning in late work and missed presentation.

(-10%)                                                                             -5/

Added points for creativity and extra effort. +

Total Score



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