Photoshop is a complex program, but anyone can learn how to use it and master is. You just have to know where to start. I think the best way to do it is to just begin playing with the program. Double click on the program icon, get in there and have a look around. Open the drop menus, look at the different toolbars, just click on everything to get a feel for where things are. Then you can delve deeper with a few options.
First of all, there are books. The different Photoshop programs are CS, CS1, CS2, CS3 and CS4; Photoshop Elements 6, 7 and 8 (the older ones are practically obsolete) and Photoshop Premier Elements; Photoshop Lightroom 1 and 2; and finally, Photoshop Extended. There are books that are for the specific program listed and when I typed Photoshop into Amazon.com, I got over 9,000 results. It’s not necessary to buy a book, but you can. There is a free PDF file of the first chapter of a book entitled Photoshop CS Visual QuickStart Guide. Honestly, for a Photoshop newbie, this free chapter is a great start as it gives you a glimpse of what you need to learn.
Also, when you buy a Photoshop program, it comes with reading material that I suggest you at least browse through. Because Photoshop is so complex, there are a lot of features that you can learn to maximize what you get out of the program. Not taking advantage of the reading material, usually leads to ignored tools that you could have used to make things easier.
So, you’ve read up a bit about Photoshop and are ready for a test drive. All of these programs have similar basics; file, edit, image, layer, select, filler, view, window and help drop menus as well as different toolbars and tool boxes. I list these things so that you know to look for these items when you are playing with the program.
Tutorials, there are a lot of tutorials on the Adobe website that can take you through Photoshop’s features. Just to let you know, some tutorials are not free, but can be accessed when you buy the specific product they are for. As for free tutorials, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of tutorials that specifically teach you how to navigate the main tool box. This is what you will use to select items, crop images, add text, use the pen and the brush, alter your color palette, clone parts of an image, blur edges, erase things and so much more. One of the most important things you can learn is how to work with layers. Anytime you alter your image, you should put the changes in a new layer so you can go back and fix things one layer at a time as opposed to fixing the whole thing.
Finally, there’s the Adobe resource center and forums. The resource center has tons of links for any obstacle you might run into. The resource center and forums allow you to advance your learning and find specific answers to obscure questions you may have as your Photoshop abilities grow.
Overall, play with your program, read up on its features, experiment with photos, practice with tutorials and most importantly have fun. Now that you know where to look for the information that you need to begin your long-term relationship with Photoshop, you can focus on creating a new world for your pictures, videos, sound recordings, web pages and any other thing you may want to do.