Adobe leads the graphic design market, and Photoshop Elements is a simplified version of Photoshop. Although Photoshop Elements lacks some of the features of Photoshop, it’s still one of the best graphic design programs for novice users. It’s also a great place to start if you’re looking to become a graphic designer.
Although most of Adobe’s products have been converted to subscription-based services, Photoshop Elements remains a one-time-payment software. It sells for $69.99, making it one of the least-expensive programs we tested. Before deciding on it, you can use the 30-day trial to see if it’s a good fit for your work style.
Ease of Use
Photoshop Elements lets you select one of three workspaces to correspond with your skill level: Quick, Guided or Expert. The Quick view displays only the most common tools and elements, to help you quickly create a design or edit a photo. The Guided view shows you different design effects and teaches you how to apply them to your images. And the Expert workspace has all of the tools for you to use at your discretion.
This categorization makes this software especially appealing for beginners, because the Quick and Guided pages aren’t as overwhelming. When you’re comfortable with the Quick and Guided modes, you can move on to Expert mode. This prepares you to jump into Adobe Photoshop, the higher-level photo editing program.
Photoshop Elements includes several tools to help you create unique and intricate designs. With a wide selection of brushes and the option to create your own, the program allows you to adjust the thickness, stroke, color and tip of a brush. The software is also compatible with tablets, so you can adjust the pressure of a custom brush or use the tablet to draw.
While the software has several tools, it does not offer a pen tool or vector brushes. This isn’t surprising, considering Photoshop Elements is a simplified version of Photoshop. Adobe Illustrator deals with vectors and is the program that uses pen tools. Although Photoshop Elements’ lack of pen tools limits the type of designs you can create, there are shape tools that let you easily make stars, hearts and other preprogrammed shapes.
If you are looking for a program that offers vector and pen tools, consider Xara Photo & Graphic Designer. With grids, snap-to alignment and text wrap, you can place your objects and typography in the precise location you want and create accurate designs. Unfortunately, the software lacks custom guides that allow you to create your own grid to align your objects.
With Adobe Photoshop Elements, you can customize your typography by color, size and weight, or add effects. The software allows you to alter the fonts, shapes and images with gradients and opacity, giving you a wide range of typography effects.
Photo & Image Tools
With the software’s 132 photo filters, you can add textures and adjust colors on each of your photos. The program even includes panorama merging and HDR imaging. In addition to the photo effects, the software has tools that help improve the quality of photos, such as color correction, noise removal and automatic lens correction.
The software also has content-aware scaling, which allows you to resize images without distorting them, as well as a history log that displays every edit you make and allows you to undo any unwanted changes. You can also use the mask tool to remove unwanted objects or subjects.
To help you design projects, Photoshop Elements comes with over 100 predesigned templates for photo books, Facebook headers and more. It also has a helpful feature that allows you to export your designs directly to social media sites.
This software offers bleed setup and printer’s mark tools so you can make sure your designs print and cut exactly the way you want them to. If there is a potential problem with your print order, Elements will notify you before sending your print request to the printer.
Help & Support
Adobe has several support options. You can access help within the application or use the support page on the company’s website. Adobe’s website has video tutorials, support forums and solutions to common problems. You can contact an Adobe customer service representative via live chat, phone and forums.
Photoshop Elements works with most image file types, including PNG, GIF, TIF, JPEG, PSD, BMP and RAW. However, it cannot read AI, SVG, SWF, DOCX or TXT files. However, just about any raster-based file should work.
Although Adobe Photoshop Elements lacks some helpful illustration tools, such as the pen tool, it supplies you with a vast assortment of photo editing features and tools to create intricate designs, and includes over 100 photo filters. This program is an especially good option for beginners who want to become proficient in Adobe software.