Six Things Every Designer Should Do Right Now


By: Art Director, Jake Silva

I get really excited about learning new shortcuts and tools in programs I already know, love and use on a daily basis. Especially when it speeds up workflow and increases productivity. It is estimated that you could save up to 8 days a year just by using shortcuts while designing. So allow me to geek out a bit – I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend a talk hosted by Adobe’s Senior Creative Cloud Evangelist ­– Paul Trani. Paul is one of those presenters who’s laid back style and intelligent wit leaves you with a hunger for more. His talk was just as entertaining as it was informative and I found myself struggling to write down all his words of wisdom.


The lowdown: below is a high level selection of my favorite tips, tricks, shortcuts for Photoshop (Ps) and Illustrator (Ai). For the full list and additional tutorials, check out


  1. Pay attention to current design trends… for example
  • Double Exposure
  • Low Poly (artificial 3D)
  • Long Shadow
  • Zentangle
  • Hand Lettering
  • Murals
  • Ink
  • Calligraphy
  • Creating vectors from objects in photography (Adobe Capture)


  1. Speed up your workflow (it’s hard to break from what’s familiar)
  • De-clutter your desktop workspace regularly by using CMD-H (hide)
  • Change opacity of a layer in Ps with keyboard numbers (6 = 60% opacity etc)
  • Shift key – (+)(–) to cycle through layer blend modes
  • Shift-Option M (multiply) to jump right to a layer specific blend mode etc
  • Command – J to duplicate a layer
  • Bracket keys increase/decrease size of a brush or eraser, hold shift to change the softness
  • N and K are the only (non-used keys) on a keyboard available to assign to a shortcut
  • Name your Layers
  • Layer pallet filter: filter the layers pallet by Kind, Name etc to find artwork faster


  1. Work non-destructively
  • Convert layers to Smart Objects
  • Use layer masks + brushes rather than eraser tool
  • Use bridge to load/combine files into the layers of one Ps file
  • Uncheck “Auto-Select” in the upper toolbar and use the command key – click to automatically select a layer
  • Select – focus area (auto select the part of the image that is in focus) the refine the edge
  • Hold option between layers to make a clipping mask
  • Layer – New – Artboard to create an Artboard from a selection of layers (then use the option key and click and drag to duplicate the entire Artboard)
  • Filter – Camera Raw Filter to adjust everything in a photo without needing multiple layer styles.
  • For the full list of Ps shortcuts:
  1. Work Connected (between applications and within them)
  • Use libraries
  • Save an object to the library so you can always go back and edit it.
  1. Produce and Output Graphics Quickly (in Ps)
  • File – Generate – Image assets (name the Ps layer the file type you want to output to (i.e. image.jpg will export the layer as a JPG). Use percentages (50% in the filename) to export at 50% opacity
  • Right click on the layer – export
  • Right click on the layer – export CSS
  1. Use the right tool for the job
  • Check out the Adobe Experience Manager (XD)