Alright, first off, I've never written an art-related tut before, so bear with me.
This is the workspace I've come to like over the couple years I've been photoshopping. It seems to be a bit more fluant to work in than the clunky default.
This layout is minimalistic, meaning that you strip everything down to only what you readily use and navigate mostly through keyboard shortcuts. This may sound complicated, but it really makes painting a lot easier and quicker once you get it down.
Step One: Familiarization
First off, in order to use this layout, you will need to be familiar with several photoshop shortcuts:
***Green Text = Painting Shortcuts***
***Blue Text = Navigation Shortcuts***
B = Brush
with brush tool selected...
Alt = Quick Eye Dropper (makes color selection easy)
Alt + Space = Quick Zoom Out
Ctrl + Space = Quick Zoom In
Ctrl = Quick Move Tool (don't use it that often, but handy)
Space = Quick Hand Tool (helps move where you're looking)
E = Eraser
R = Smudge Tool (don't abuse this tool, crazy bastages!)
Ctrl + Alt + 0 = Actual Pixels (zooms in/out to actual pixel size)
Ctrl + 0 = Fit on Screen (conveeeenient)
F = Toggles Page style (regular, white bg, black bg)
Tab = Show/Hide Pallets
It is not complicated to use shortcuts once you're used to it. Seriously, I paint with my right hand and always keep my left on the keyboard.
Step Two: Scrapping Default
Default = Clunky. As internet-savvy n00bs would say, "D3p4aUl7 15 0f teh 5ux0rz!".
Default configuration really does waste a lot of space. It's good if you don't know what photoshop has to offer in terms of tools/keyboard shortcuts, but for those who are familiar with the program, much of what's on the screen isn't needed if all you're doing is painting.
Step Three: Storing Useful Pallets
Scope out what's on the screen. Identify what you use and get rid of what you don't.
Now, with what you DO have left, drag your remaining pallets up into the darkish grey area to "dock" them (by default, File Browser and Brushes should already be there. If you have a low resolution, i'd suggest getting rid of at least one of them, especially if you don't use them and make way for more important pallets).
See? They're still there for you to access, just tucked away so that when they're not needed they don't cramp your drawing space.
Step Four: Immersion & Getting Over the Navigator
It's a brave new world! You've just tidied your workspace and now there's a clean area to work in. But, let's take it a step further.
" key provides some yummy alternatives to just looking at a window within photoshop.
Press it once, and your image becomes centered and your drawing space takes up the entire work area letting you focus on your drawing a bit better while still allowing you full access to the Menu Bar (File, Edit, etc)
" once more, and the background becomes black and the Menu Bar disappears giving you even more room to work.
Now, you may be wondering how you're going to function without the beloved Navigator. I've docked mine, although i seldom end up using it.
Whie painting, if I need to zoom in, i use ctrl + click
to zoom in, or alt + click
to zoom out.
I can pan all over the place by just holding Space
down and dragging my stylus. If you need to quickly get a view of the entire image, press ctrl + 0
to see the entire thing fitted to my screen.
Additionally, if i want to zoom in to get at the details, I press ctrl + alt + 0
to zoom in to the actual pixel size.
Last of all, if you want absolute immersion in painting a piece, you could press tab
to get rid of any other distracting pallets leaving you with the most simplistic of all the options thus far. If you are fluent in shortcuts, painting in this mode is easy and simple.
Once you have the workspace that fits you, go to Window > Workspace > Save Workspace.
I hoped this helped some people out. Especially, if you have smaller monitors. I feel your pain! Up until 6 months ago, i had a 15" which was about 50% dimmer than regular monitors.