I am an intermediate graphic designer that uses Photoshop, I've created many pieces that I am very proud of and can stare at it all day long. Alright, let's get to the points.

Many people that use Photoshop, regardless of their skills, always want to learn something new in the program. The most obvious and probably reliable is tutorials, on Tuts+ and sites like that.

Well, I have a question: should I actually do step by step in the tutorials or just reading it to know what they are doing? If I actually do it step by step, it would be time consuming, and if I read it, I can still learn the material and read more tutorials in a short period of time.

But, there's that saying, if you do it, you will remember it more. I'm kind of in the middle right now, and when I read a tutorial and found a cool effect, I try to replicate that effect and that effect only in photoshop for future use.

Any thoughts?

  • do it step by step, focus on bold word like Filter or Colors. Just keep your eyes on Pictures Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 5:17
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    Comment for the people who voted to close: if your expert view is that there's not one correct answer, but rather, different approaches that work for different people, explain why with experience-based examples, and that's a good answer to the question :-) Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 13:57
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    Don't waste time asking if you need to read more or do more. GO AND FIND OUT!.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 18:17

2 Answers 2


You learn practical skills by doing them. There's lots of hard evidence that procedural skills learnt from doing are different and deeper than theoretical knowledge from reading.

These then expand your creative possibilities through pushing these new skills, experimenting with them, and creating things with them.

So, if it's an area you're new to, do it, and also, don't just follow it. At each step that's new to you, think "What else can I use this for? How can I push it? How can I combine it with other things I already know?". You'll get ideas. Try them out (after finishing the tutorial!).

You don't want to be an automaton who follows and remembers step-by-step instructions, you want to be a creative person who has ideas then a whole host of options for how to realise them. So, follow the tutorial, then take those new techniques off-road.

That's if it's an area that's new to you. When you're more experienced, 90% of a tutorial will be things you already knew, so you'll find yourself skim-reading them then going "Hey, I like step six, that's new!". If you're reading tutorials because you're stuck doing a practical task, using that trick to get un-stuck is enough for it to be practical, procedural learning.

Even then, it's worth pushing yourself, pushing that new trick, and trying new ways to use it and new things it's capable of. It's a good way to avoid getting stuck in a rut or a routine.

A person who has mastered 5 techniques and can create almost anything with them is a better designer than someone who has memorised 200 techniques but can't do much more with them than follow what they've seen or read. The great designers of the pre-software era could create almost anything with ink, blade, guides and a steady hand: don't hobble your core skills by getting obsessed with cool effects.

  • Thank you very much! I often look at manipulation tutorials and most of the things they do are masking and selecting, which I obviously already knew. So I only do the thing that is new, like applying a filter, then apply an adjustment. Thank you for the constructive answer!
    – Ben Boy
    Commented Apr 16, 2015 at 1:18

I would recommend doing them obviously;

Furthermore the way you really become an expert on a specific Photoshop/illustrator/any software is by getting the skill you learned on any tutorial and applying it on something completely different that you though of, because following a tutorial in a simple "monkey see monkey do" matter anyone can do but using the skill in something different, that's the challenge and that's when you know you've mastered it.

In conclusion, take small tutorials, the ones that teach you a skill and not necessarily create something impressive, and once you are done with it, take the skill and use it one something completely different of your choosing.


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