13 Common Photoshop Mistakes and Malpractices with Remedies

13 Common Photoshop Mistakes and Malpractices with Remedies

Photoshop is to a graphic designer as the rolling pin is to a baker. As a graphic design tool, Photoshop can be compared to the clay in a sculptor’s hands or the scalpel in the surgeon’s hands. However, Photoshop can also produce negative results. A designer took a lot of flak for producing a picture of an unbelievably thin model.

This led to accusations of unrealistic images of the female body. Some might consider it a graphic design malpractice while others would say it is just a bad Photoshop job. Bad Photoshop results could prove disastrous not only in the fashion industry but also in technology marketing industries. It can result in atrocious misrepresentations on laptop screens and cell phones, and can get creators into hot water.

13 Common Photoshop Mistakes and Malpractices with Remedies

Photoshop is a program for photo editing which can be used on Microsoft Windows and Mac. Photoshop includes several tools ranging from simple to complex. They can be applied to a wide range of projects. Sometimes, all you need is a simple function. For instance, if you want to create a collage, you will need to extract images from an original picture and then place them in your new image. You need to use the right features and tools to get an effective result.

Common Photoshop Mistakes and Malpractices

How do you know whether you are making mistakes or misusing the program? Photoshop offers you a powerful tool for editing and creating graphics. It has an intuitive interface. Beginners as well as professionals need to know various aspects of cropping and resizing in order to fully master utilizing the Photoshop tools.

This article will help you refine your photo editing skills and create some spectacular graphics. We will discuss how to use: retouching and healing tools; the pen tool; painting tools; color replacement tool; understanding the layer masks; and image masking tools.

1. Unspecific methods of extraction

There are several tools for extracting visual elements in a file. Not all of them offer the same level of precision. These tools are used for removing unessential distractions from the picture or for deletion of an object. For instance: The Quick Select option can be used for specifying the size of the area to be extracted.

The Pen Tool

The Pen Tool allows the user to trace elements to produce the exact object he visualizes. Practice can lead to improved selection of images and greater precision. Methods selected should be suitable for the required task.

2. Feathered Edges

When selecting the object to alter or move, it is suggested that you feather the edge. This can be done by a two to three pixels resolution, depending on the image resolution.

Feathered Edges

Feathering prevents the jagged edges that are often found in photo montages. Feathering results in a soft edge that offers better blending with the selected area. Fading out a selection is also more effective by means of using a high value.

3. Rainbow Gradients

You can give the image a rainbow effect with ready made rainbow gradients. Flip the order of the colors to create a realistic effect. This feature should be used sparingly.


Rainbow gradients can be quite jarring. Many websites and designs make use of rainbow gradients. Use them discreetly by blending the gradients from a lighter to darker shade within a single color rather than blending two different colors. Over popping of colors can spoil the picture. Everyone loves vibrant colors and wants to give a picture a neon look.

4. Field Depth

Sometimes, in a picture, one object may be in focus and another is out of focus. This produces a very unnatural look and results in the picture looking odd. The depth of field needs to be corrected. When you combine different images having different depths, you may need to adjust the focus and correct the depth as well. This is one of the most common errors found in Photoshop creations.

5. Overuse of Filters

Newcomers to Photoshop are usually quite enamored with filters and tend to overuse them. Filters can be fun and easy to use. But they are not enough to produce a professional effect. Overuse of filters can produce the opposite effect. Your photo can appear amateurish. Over-editing can become a chronic problem.

Over Editing

When beginners first start learning about Photoshop, they get completely bowled over by the features and capabilities of the tools and do not have the right skills to use them. They start playing about with the filters and plugins. This can even make the picture look worse. Sometimes, less is more.

6. Light Direction

When working on montaging, the images need to be combined by the use of similar lighting conditions. When light plays on an object, it produces a set of shadows that move in a specific direction mostly reliant on the source of the light with respect to the particular object.

Light Direction

When you consider the idea of montaging two images, the light sources for both should be the same. In case the direction of the light for the two images is different, the effect is unnatural and unbelievable.

7. Casting of Colors

The white balance or the hue of white areas is termed as the color temperature of the picture. This should be well adjusted. All white areas should look similar. Otherwise the result will be an unrealistic appearance. The human eye is capable of perceiving such abnormalities. Avoid such errors in montage pictures.

8. Curves

Curves is a very important feature in Photoshop. This tool can be quite intimidating to a newcomer. Amateurs tend or overuse or avoid it. Neither is recommended.


Curves could negatively affect shadows and colors. The curve should not affect the skin tones and color.

9. Layers and Folders – To Use or not to Use

New users of Photoshop generally don’t make use of layers. Layers are central to Photoshop and using them makes it easier to duplicate, move, and perform editing and deleting.

Layers and Folders

Apart from merely using layers and folders, you need to structure the layers into folders. This tool is essential – especially if you are working on large PSDs or are doing web design. This tool can save a lot of time and headaches.It makes navigating in the project easier.

10. Using Desaturate

When you want to convert the image to black and white, it is recommended that you do not use the Image> Adjustments>Desaturate.

Channel Mixer

Using it only results in a dull and lifeless photo. Instead, you could convert the image into a black and white one by selecting Image> Adjustment> Channel Mixer. You can get a richer and brighter image by checking of the monochrome and then making adjustments to the channel sliders of colors: red, green and blue.

Black and white photos can convey a classic image that is just not possible with color. In portraits and landscapes, you can produce a haunting and mesmerizing effect. Desaturation is a good option. The problem is: The tool cannot distinguish very effectively between the different tones in case of a black and white image.

Using the channel mixer makes sense. It can be a bit complicated, but it simulates the same effect as the regular filters used for black and white photos and allows you to adjust the red, green, and blue channels. For instance: If you boost the red channel, the reds will be lightened. Experiment until you get the desired results.

11. Guides and Grids

Don’t commit the error of just eyening things up. Make use of guides and grids in Photoshop. The Grid is a tool used for perfect alignment in graphic designing.


It is quite easy to use. You can combine the Grid with the Snap feature to align objects. This will help align objects with the grid lines and along the subdivisions. You can set up grid preferences to suit the working conditions, in inches, pixels or any other standard units of measurement.

12. Features like Eyes, Teeth and Skin

Who doesn’t like sparkle in the eyes? The best way to achieve this sparkle would be to get the light in the eyes while focusing the camera. Do not overuse the Eye Doctor action in Photoshop. It will end up looking fake. As for teeth, you could remove a little yellow and brighten them up a bit. But, make sure you don’t overuse this feature.

We don’t all look naturally like the Osmond’s. Skin smoothening features are really very popular. All of us want skin that looks perfect, without wrinkles and pores. But you don’t want to look like a plastic Barbie doll, do you?

Features like Eyes, Teeth and Skin

Make sure that you use the smoothing actions feature judiciously. Moderation is the key word. Keep the look natural by using duplicate layers and reducing opacity and masking. Under eye shadows can also be removed but don’t get rid of them completely. Use Opacity here as well.

13. Proper Use

There are many cases where Photoshop can be very effectively applied. However, sometimes, it makes sense to use a different program, such as InDesign or Dreamweaver. They are more suitable for some editing projects. Use Photoshop only when it suits the application. It is basically an editing program for images and is best suited for the creation of visual content that has already been created.

Many designers make use of Photoshop for creating graphics and also logos. The result may not always be ideal. The tools of Photoshop have been created for editing and improving documents and for enhancing photos. They are better used for that purpose than for creating original works.

Other Dos and Don’ts in Photoshop

  • Don’t use too much of a hazy look. It looks fake.
  • Don’t blow things out of proportion when editing.
  • Don’t add too many contrasts. You may lose details in the shadows. When the numbers in the palette are nearing zero, it means that there is no more information in the shadows.
  • Avoid heavy toning of monochromatic images. A light tint is a better choice. Sometimes, sepia or other heavy tones may not be the right choice.
  • Don’t blindly use Photoshop actions without knowing the effect. Understand the effect of each action before you use them.
  • Cropping is useful at times, but, it could result in throwing out pixels and other information. Always save the original photo before cropping. Don’t crop in too close. You might require a different size at a later point of time. Don’t crop your subject at points, such as the hip, the elbow, knees, or neck.
  • Some people like a soft glow around the subject to give a dreamy blurred look. If you like this look, you could use the feature. Apply this in moderation, and only if the mood demands it.
  • Use heavy vignettes only if appropriate. Don’t put dark edges on every picture. Use opacity instead.
  • Over sharpening could also hurt the picture. Of course, digital images require sharpening as it gives a crisp look to the image. However, if the picture is blurry or out of focus, it can only harm the picture. There is no one size fits all rule for sharpening. You will have to try it out on different pictures. Make use of Noiseware for removing graininess from the picture. However, it could take away the texture and make things, such as hair and clothes look overly smooth. Adjust the opacity and use the mask to bring back details where you want them.

Photoshop Trouble

Photoshop can get people in trouble—especially in cases of malpractice. A mug shot of OJ Simpson was placed on both Time and Newsweek. However, Time suffered a setback. The Time artists had used Photoshop to make Simpson’s skin darker, apparently,to make him look more threatening.

OJ Simpson Time Magazine

It is also possible that Newsweek had made the shot brighter or enhanced it. Images cannot always be trusted.

Most celebrities and superstars have their photos and pictures manipulated by Photoshop before they are published. They go in for erasing, editing, and smoothing the pictures removing imperfections visible to viewers. Such photos tend to set up unrealistic goals.

Celebrities Photoshop Manipulation

It is impossible for the average person to look like a movie star. The most unfortunate aspect of such malpractices in Photoshop is that viewers are not even aware of such manipulation. They compare themselves to the images in magazines striving uselessly to imitate them.

Thus, many think Photoshop should be banned. A better practice would be to stick to ethical practices or even provide a disclosure stating that the photo has been altered digitally.


A vast range of tools are available in Photoshop. When embellishing photos, you need to choose the right ones. Small details can create an impressive design. Use details, such as subtle textures and shading, sparingly. Though Photoshop can be a very useful tool for designing, it can produce some questionable results in the wrong hands.

It can also be used for manipulating reality. Many businesses don’t have the time or the budget for creating new images. They are increasingly using cheap stock photography. No one has the time or the patience to shoot images. In addition, there are several royalty-free images available and irresistible to marketers.

Marketers find their budget being slashed at every corner and take the easy course of Photoshop wizardry and malpractice. It is important to steer clear of such practices and do good, judicious photo editing.


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