I use guides in Photoshop almost every day. I never used to use them, but ever since I learned what they were and what they can do, I take full advantage of them. Basically, guides are light blue lines that you can overlay on your working workspace. They’re nice because you can line things up in relation to them and they can help a lot when drawing shapes or selections. In more recent releases of Photoshop, you can snap to the guide, which helps with accuracy.
So, how can we create guides in Photoshop? For a simple guide creation, you’ll need to make sure your rulers are being displayed. Go up to the View > Rulers menu item and make sure there’s a check next to it. If there is, you’re in good shape. You should see the rulers in the workspace. They line the image.
To create a guide, simply click inside the top ruler and drag down or click inside the left ruler and drag to the right. You can set more than one guide if you want. To remove guides that have previously been set, hover your mouse over each one until the mouse changes into a different icon and then click and drag the guide far off the workspace. That will delete it. To create a new guide with the assistance of Photoshop, you can use the View > New Guide menu item and type in your position.
To show and hide the guides but keep them alive, you can either use the View > Show > Guides menu item to turn them on and off or you can use the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+; or Command+;. That’s a semicolon if you can’t see it clearly. You can also clear (delete) them by using the View > Clear Guides menu item.
Here are a few random guides I just made with the method I described above.
The true power of guide creation lies with the New Guide Layout feature inside of Photoshop. Instead of trying to position guides accurately by hand, you can do so precisely with mathematics. Go to the View > New Guide Layout menu item and click. When you do this, you’ll see the New Guide Layout dialog box appear.
If you click on the Preset drop-down, you’ll see a bunch of different available options. You can load pre-made guide layouts into your install of Photoshop and you can also choose between a few different layouts that came installed already. The best part is creating custom layouts. To do this, click the Custom option that can be found at the bottom of the drop-down. When you do that, you’ll see all the fields below become active. Type values into those fields to see what they result in. You can use any distance metric that Photoshop accepts. Percentage, pixels, whatever. You’ll need to experiment with this feature to get used to it, but I think you’ll see the value in it very quickly.
When you’re finished, click the OK button to apply the guides to your file. In subsequent posts, I’ll discuss how you can use guides to help with the shapes and selections I mentioned above. If you have questions, please ask below. Thanks!