So I'm bored at work a lot and since I work nights (and kinda need a break from games at the moment too) I want to start getting into photo shop just as a hobby. Though I have NEVER done this stuff before and have no idea where to start. What programs are easiest to use? What ones are the best once I get the hang of it? Are there free ones or should I purchase one? I have access to a Mac and a PC, which should I use? Good ways of finding funny/interesting pictures of people (particularly GB staff)? Any tips and advice would be appreciated and hope to one day contribute to the Hamburger board with my work.
What type of photoshop do you really want to get into? Photography? Art? Design? Or just plain ol' fun image manipulation. I'm going to guess that you're down for the last option - so you'll be using Adobe Photoshop CS6 - which there are a TON of photoshop tutorials to find on Youtube.
Youtube is an amazing learning source, seriously. My girlfriend is a graphic designer and the rare times she needs help with something, she usually Youtubes it.
If you want to get into anything in general and be decent at it, it's going to take time and dedication.
It really doesnt matter what operating system you use, I recommend windows since it's what most PCs run these days.
So get yourself a copy of Photoshop, however you can, and then go to Adobe's official website and go to Adobe TV for photoshop lessons on the official site. Learning there is better than other places.
Photoshop is fine on either platform, and has been for the past few years now.
Just get it and muck around with everything, that's pretty much how you learn to use a piece of software. Set yourself a project, and see how you can achieve a result. Also, free tutorial videos.
Eventually, you'll be able to create stunning masterpieces like this...
Finally, it's Photoshop, not Photo Shop.
My best advice would be to create your hot keys. It's a semi amateur thing to do, but basically once you've got a hang of it, just a little, you'll want to start laying down hotkeys like a good video gamer that knows how to use a hotbar. A lot of the time you'll end up repetitiously clicking on the tool bar and such. You shouldn't have to click to select any tools. Just memorize the keys and your photoshops will breeze through much quicker.
Experiment. That's my advice really. Get in there, open up a new file, start messing about with images and you'll pick it up. I don't remember when it clicked for me really, but all I know is when I started off I didn't know what I was doing. Just kept on at it.
If you don't want to drop the cash for Photoshop try:
PixelMator ($30 Mac Only)
Gimp (free, all platforms)
GimpShop (free, all platforms)... A fork of gimp that more closely emulates Photoshop
Photoshop elements ($119) stripped down Photoshop at a reduced price... Should do everything you need, though. Compared to $700 for PS it is a bargain.
Paint.net (free, Windows)
Pixlr (Runs in a browser) very capable, try this one first if you want to get the idea of an advanced image editor.
Learn to use layers... Never edit directly on an image when you can apply it to a new layer. Make copies of layers before editing so you can switch back and forth.
Despite what everybody in my graphic design department at college tells me, you don't have to have a Mac to get into Photoshop. The software is exactly the same on both platforms. If you want to try out Photoshop for a little bit, Adobe gives away 30 day free trials like they're candy. Also, don't buy Photoshop Elements if you plan on eventually getting regular Photoshop (Elements uses a different save file format that doesn't play very well with regular Photoshop). For the most part, I just learned how to use Photoshop by just taking pictures of friends/myself and doing stupid things to them. You also can learn a lot from Adobe's how-to videos.
I suggest looking up tutorials for and getting good at using masks. It's pretty much the most useful thing you'll learn if you want to do image manipulation. Then you can blend stuff together all crazy good. Tangentially, learn the Refine Edge tool, to make your selections and masks better. Use layers.
For drawing, I just started using paint sai. I really like it so far. The quality looks alot better than what I was using before. When I first started off, drawing and photo editting I used gimp. Its free to download and to me a good first start and its alot like photoshop with a few less features. To learn I just youtube stuff and practice. I learn from watching people. I would definitely say to start with gimp because its free and you never know how long you will use it.