Written by Steve Patterson. In this tutorial, we'll learn how to create new Photoshop documents using the New Document dialog box that's been completely redesigned in Photoshop CC 2017. As we'll see, the New Document dialog box lets us create new documents from presets, or from our own custom settings, and it allows us to save our custom settings as new presets! It even lets us create documents from templates, a new feature that's been added in CC 2017.
We've already looked briefly at the New Document dialog box when we learned about Photoshop's Start workspace, another feature that's been updated in CC 2017. Here, we'll look at the New Document dialog box in more detail and see exactly how it works!
To follow along, you'll want to be using Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) and you'll want to make sure that your copy of Photoshop CC is up to date.
Creating New Documents vs Opening Images
Before we begin, I should briefly point out the difference between creating a new document and opening an existing image in Photoshop, as this can be a bit confusing.
When we create a new document, we create what is essentially a blank canvas. We can then import images, graphics or other design assets into the document. This is normally what you want to do when you're creating any sort of design layout. You simply create a new blank document at whichever size you need and then begin adding and arranging your various elements.
New documents are also great for digital painting with Photoshop's brushes, and for creating composites from multiple images. Basically, any time you want to start with a blank canvas and then add your content as you go along, you'll want to create a new Photoshop document, which is what we'll be learning how to do in this tutorial.
If you're a photographer, a blank document is probably not what you need. Instead, you'll most likely want to start by opening an existing image. Opening images is different from creating new documents so I won't be covering how to open an image here, but you can learn all about opening images in our How To Open Images In Photoshop CC tutorial.
Having said all that, if you're still here and you're ready to learn how to create new documents in Photoshop CC, let's get started!
Creating A New Photoshop Document
To create a new document in Photoshop, we use the New Document dialog box. There's a few ways to get to it. One way is by clicking the New... button on Photoshop's Start screen:
Another is by going up to the File menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choosing New. This is helpful if you already have an image or document open and don't have access to the Start screen, or if you've disabled the Start workspace:
Or, you can simply press the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+N (Win) / Command+N (Mac). Any way you choose opens the New Document dialog box:
The New Document Dialog Box
If you look along the top of the New Document dialog box, you'll see a row of categories (Recent, Saved, Photo, Print, Art & Illustration, Web, Mobile, and Film & Video). By default, the dialog box opens to the Recent category. Any document sizes that you've used recently will appear listed in the area below.
In my case, all I'm seeing at the moment is the default Photoshop size but you may be seeing others as well if you've already created one or more new documents. We'll come back to the Recent category a bit later:
Creating New Documents From Presets
The best way to start when creating a new Photoshop document is to see if there's already a preset we can use that matches the size we need. First, choose the type of document you want to create (photo, web, mobile, etc.) from the categories along the top. I'll choose Photo:
Preset document sizes for your chosen category will appear below. Only a few presets are displayed at first. To see more of them, click View All Presets +:
Use the scroll bar along the right to scroll through the presets. If you see one that matches your needs, click on it to select it. I'll choose Landscape, 8 x 10:
The details of the preset appear in the PRESET DETAILS panel along the right of the dialog box. After choosing the Landscape, 8 x 10 preset, we see that sure enough, this preset will create a document with a Width of 10 inches and a Height of 8 inches. It also sets the Resolution to 300 pixels/inch which is a standard resolution for print:
If you're happy with the settings, click the Create button in the bottom right of the dialog box:
This closes the New Document dialog box and opens your new document in Photoshop:
Verifying The Document Size
If you're the skeptical type, you can verify that the document is the size you wanted using Photoshop's Image Size dialog box. To do that, go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Image Size:
This opens the Image Size dialog box where we see that the Width of the document is in fact 10 inches, the Height is 8 inches, and the Resolution is set to 300 pixels/inch:
I'll close out of the Image Size dialog box by clicking the Cancel button:
Then, I'll close out of my new document by going up to the File menu and choosing Close:
Since I have no other documents open at the moment, Photoshop returns me to the Start screen. I'll open the New Document dialog box once again by clicking the New... button:
The New Document dialog box again opens to the Recent category where this time, it's displaying not only the default Photoshop size but also the Landscape, 8 x 10 preset that I just used. If I wanted to quickly create a new document using either of these sizes, all I would need to do is double-click on the one I need:
Creating New Documents From Custom Settings
If none of the presets will work, we can easily use our own custom settings simply by entering whatever values we need into the PRESET DETAILS panel (which should probably have been called the DOCUMENT DETAILS panel since we're no longer using a preset).
If I want to create, say, a 13 inch by 19 inch document, all I need to do is set the Width value to 13 inches and the Height value to 19 inches. I'm using inches here as an example, but if you click the measurement type box, you'll find options for other measurement types as well, like pixels, centimeters, millimeters and more:
If you need to swap the Width and Height values to change the orientation of the document, click either the Portrait or Landscape orientation buttons:
Any of the settings in the PRESET DETAILS panel can be changed as needed. To change the background color of your new document to something other than white (the default color), click on the Background Contents option where you'll see that you can also choose black, or you can choose your current Background color. Or, you can click the color swatch to open Photoshop's Color Picker and choose any custom color you need:
The Hidden "Transparent" Option
If you've been using Photoshop for a while and you're familiar with the old version of the New Document dialog box (now called the "legacy" version as we'll see at the end of this tutorial), you may notice here that one of the options we used to be able select for the Background Contents—Transparent—is missing from the list.
It's not actually missing, it's just hidden. To bring it back, first click on Advanced Options to twirl them open:
Then, go back up to the Background Contents option and re-open it. You'll now see Transparent added to the list of choices:
Quick Tip... If you already have the Advanced Options twirled open and you're still not seeing Transparent in the Background Contents choices, first close the Background Contents option. Then, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the PRESET DETAILS panel. Go back up to the Background Contents and you should now see Transparent in the list.
Other options we can change in the PRESET DETAILS panel include Color Mode where we can choose from RGB Color, CMYK Color, Grayscale and others. In most cases, you'll want to leave it set to RGB Color. I cover RGB color in our RGB And Color Channels Explained tutorial.
You can also change the document's Bit Depth, from 8 bit to 16 bit or 32 bit. This is a more advanced topic, but I cover the difference between 8 bit and 16 bit in our Benefits Of Working With 16-Bit Images tutorial. You can usually leave it set to 8 bit:
Another option we can change, found under the Advanced Options, is Color Profile. Again, this is a more advanced topic and you can safely leave it set to its default value. But if you want to learn more about Photoshop's color settings and why they're important, I cover them in our Essential Color Settings For Photographers tutorial. All three of the tutorials I've mentioned can be found in our Digital Photo Essentials section:
When you're happy with your settings, click the Create button in the bottom right of the dialog box. I'm not going to do that just yet, though, because in the next section, we'll learn how to save our settings as a custom preset!
Saving Your Settings As A Preset
If you're going to need the same document size again in the future, you can save your settings as a custom preset. To do that, click the Save icon at the top of the PRESET DETAILS panel:
Give your preset a descriptive name. I'll name mine "Landscape, 13 x 19". Then, click the Save Preset button:
The New Document dialog box will open to the Saved category where you'll find your new preset, along with any other presets you've created. To use the preset in the future, simply open the Saved category and double-click on the preset's thumbnail:
Deleting A Saved Preset
If you need to delete the preset at some point, click the trash bin icon in the upper right of the thumbnail:
Now that I've saved my settings as a preset, I'll create the new document by clicking the Create button in the bottom right corner:
This once again closes the New Document dialog box and opens my new document in Photoshop:
Restoring The "Legacy" New Document Dialog Box
Finally, if you're a long-time Photoshop user, you may feel like the redesigned New Document dialog box in Photoshop CC 2017 is a bit too much. Personally, I've grown to like it, but if you prefer the old style dialog box, you can easily switch back to it using Photoshop's Preferences.
On a Windows PC, go up to the Edit menu at the top of the screen, choose Preferences, and then choose General. On a Mac, go up to the Photoshop CC menu, choose Preferences, then choose General. Or, you can use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+K (Win) / Command+K (Mac):
This opens the Preferences dialog box set to the General options. Look for the option that says Use Legacy "New Document" Interface and click inside its checkbox to enable it:
Click OK to close the Preferences dialog box. The next time you go to create a new document, the New Document dialog box will appear in its more streamlined, original form. To switch to the redesigned version, just go back to the same option in Photoshop's Preferences and uncheck it:
And there we have it! That's how to create new Photoshop documents, either from presets or using your own custom settings, as well as how to save your custom settings as presets, using the redesigned New Document dialog box in Photoshop CC 2017!
One new feature of the New Document dialog box that we didn't look at here is templates. As of Photoshop CC 2017, the New Document dialog box lets us create documents from templates. Templates allow us to add our own images to pre-made layouts and effects. We'll learn the basics of how to create new documents from templates in the next tutorial!