Compositing and retouching are two of the most tedious, detailed, and attention-demanding jobs we’re faced with as photographers. On late nights, when your eyes suddenly tell you that the background is too distracting, you arm yourself with your keyboard and your graphics tablet, and hope the clone stamp tool won’t fight you tonight.
One quick tip to speed up your workflow during that meticulous task is to use keyboard shortcuts – that way, you won’t have to pick up your pen and squint at the monitor, trying to pick out which tool you need. The more important hack here, though, is not just using those shortcuts – it’s rearranging them completely to one side of the keyboard to maximize your workflow time.
The default Adobe Photoshop shortcuts are spaced throughout the entire keyboard. For reference, look at this diagram. For example, to increase your brush size after switching to the clone stamp tool by pressing ‘S,’ you’d have to reach to the other side of the keyboard to hit ‘].’
Save yourself that extra second of looking and thinking about the key by assigning all your shortcuts to one side of the keyboard. I’m right handed – so I use my graphics tablet with my right hand, and press my shortcuts with my left. All of my favorite shortcuts are now concentrated on the left side of the keyboard. When I use the clone stamp tool (S), to increase the brush size, I use the ‘R’ key, while I use ‘F’ to decrease it. I assigned the dodge tool to ‘D,’ and burn to ‘Q,’ so that way, I’m not reaching on the other side of the keyboard to switch tools quickly.
To reassign your shortcuts to better ease your workflow, go to Edit > Keyboard Shortcuts.