Protip: Photoshop LighRroom I believe is an indispensable tool for digital artists, let alone photographers. It has so much fine tuning for so many different parameters of image editing, you can really master the final look of your artwork in ways Photoshop just seemingly can’t. It’s brilliant.

It works so well because LightRoom treats your art like a photo — every parameter you’d normally have in Adobe Camera Raw is all right there for you to tweak to your hearts content — and it’s all non destructive, so you can reset to the original artwork at any time.

The nice thing about LightRoom vs Adobe Camera Raw (ACR,) is that LightRoom can import and edit most file types, as opposed to ACR which can only do JPG, TIFF, and RAW formats. LightRoom can both import AND export PSD files, the format you’re likely working with. But, if you don’t have LightRoom, you can still get these same post-process mastering benefits. You’ll just have to convert your final artwork to a TIFF first and open it via “Adobe Camera Raw” option in Adobe Bridge. That process is just a little less convenient than LightRoom.

LightRoom isn’t perfect, though. If you import a PSD file with multiple layers, it will flatten those layers upon import so you’ll lose some information in the process. My recommendation is, upon completion of your artwork, flatten it and save it as a separate PSD specifically for import to LightRoom. Or, if there’s only one particular layer that needs remastering, save a PSD with just that ONE layer in it, edit it in LightRoom, then re-introduce the layer with its original file in Photoshop.

LightRoom has several other killer features that Photoshop has a hard time with. For one, you can import all of your final artwork in full resolution to LightRoom and keep it all organized. Do you collect a LOT of images from the internet for inspiration, texture, or reference? Use LightRoom — you can give metadata, tags, keep everything all in one place, sorted by dates or keywords. Better than folder-diving. Second, it has quite a number of special effects you don’t find in Photoshop. For instance, the “Grain” post-process effect applies a very realistic film grain that has character and texture — way better than using “Add Noise” in Photoshop. Lastly, and probably most importantly, you can do mass file exporting. If you wanted, you can select your entire library, convert it all to one file type, rename all, resize to a specified constraint, apply an unsharp mask, AND apply a watermark logo to each ALL in one fell swoop. It’s such a ridiculous time saver!

LightRoom is pretty much the cheapest program that Adobe offers. I highly recommend it to ANYONE who deals with images in volume — again, not just photographers.

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