When it comes to knowledge and workflow on Adobe CS, play is the best way to absorb new techniques. Tutorials are great, but I find I have more success retaining memory of the use of certain tools and techniques if I just open Photoshop or Illustrator and mess around. I'll start by asking myself a question and trying to answer it without help from a tutorial. What happens when I do this with the background eraser tool? What is the benefit of an adjustment layer? How can I create my own concrete texture? If I work around with a certain tool for long enough, I get a sense of its capabilities, and that helps me apply that knowledge to a project I work on for a client.
It also eliminates a search for the perfect tutorial, which really doesn't exist. There are so many terrible tutorials out there! You might have to wade through 5 or 6 before your question is even partially answered. What might you have learned if you tackled that question yourself without the help of the internet?
That last question is one I consider often. In the age of Google, it seems like many people place more emphasis on the answer than the question. As a designer and writer, I struggle with that reality, which seems to limit the value of creative thinking, constructive criticism, and open-ended debate,
So, when I need a break from the "Yes-No-Google" machine, I play.
Here's a little project that began with a goal to remind myself how to create an accurate watercolor effect in Photoshop and ended up at the question, "How do I turn a photo into a watercolor painting?" After a few dead-ends that led me to results I didn't quite love, I did eventually seek help from a few tutorials, but in the end, I feel that I absorbed more technique because I started with my own playful exploration.