Breaking Bad Photoshop habits: follow these steps every time you design to be as efficient and organized as possible.

Breaking Bad Photoshop habits: follow these steps every time you design to be as efficient and organized as possible.

The words ‘Breaking Bad’ depress me after watching the last episodes of the show on Netflix. I watched those episodes with the kind of attention a bomb-diffuser uses. Savoring each moment, pausing for any interruption. I wanted the high of the show to last as long as possible. While binge-watching Netflix and using meth may be bad habits to develop, the following steps are habits well worth developing. These steps can help you save time and also prevent you from making embarrassing or even costly mistakes.

Name your layers.

If there is only one rule that you follow, please make it this one. Naming your layers can be annoying and at first time consuming, but I promise you that it will almost always pay off in the end. Nothing is more annoying than wasting time looking for a layer. This is also important if your client is requesting the source file for your project. Also, please name your layers so they make sense.

Don’t use the eraser directly on a layer, use the masking tool.

There is nothing sloppier than using the eraser tool directly on a layer. Always preserve the integrity of each layer, you never know when you might want to change it.
Use spellcheck. Use it. Always. A misspelled word is one of the most embarrassing things a graphic designer can do. If you didn’t know Photoshop had spellcheck, now you do. Even if your client provides you with copy, always use spellcheck.

Save as a PSD file and save often.

This is pretty self-explanatory. We like to think the days of computers crashing are behind us, oh how I wish that were the case… Protect yourself from pulling an all-nighter to replicate a design piece. Save your files.

Don’t start designing until you know the exact dimensions of the piece you are working on.

Not getting the dimensions ahead of time can force you to completely overhaul your design. This is not fun, especially if the design started to grow on you.

Learn shortcuts!

Stop using the drop down menus on Photoshop and learn how to use shortcuts. If you don’t know them already, you will learn quickly. Here are some of the shortcuts I use often:

  • Cmd/Ctrl + T – Free Transform
  • Cmd/Ctrl + S – Save document
  • Cmd/Ctrl + A – Select all
  • Cmd/Ctrl + D – Deselect
  • Cmd/Ctrl + Enter – Accept typing
  • Cmd/Ctrl + I – Invert colors
  • Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I – Invert selection

There you have it, six tips to keep you designing as efficiently as possible while avoiding costly mistakes. Photoshop is a very powerful program, and the tips shared are just skimming the surface, there are so many more shortcuts you can learn. Follow the steps and you will be well on your way to designing like a pro.

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(3) responses


October 15, 2014

Naming layers is also particularly important if you work in a team where other people will be working on the same project! Great list :)



August 4, 2015

Great read! Naming layers I found is necessary, especially for larger projects and if you are sharing the .psd file with other designers.

I also learned the hardway of not saving my open work in Photoshop. Since then Ctrl + S has become my new best friend.

Huge fan of Breaking Bad too.


Ariana Nicole

February 7, 2016

Love the Breaking Bad reference and this is a helpful list! There’s nothing worse than losing hours of hard work and great design all because you didn’t hit save :(


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