Keyboard Shortcut Guide for Artists

Shortcut keys are a good way to work more efficiently when drawing digitally. Most graphics software allows you to change tools or execute menu commands using such shortcut keys. Use your drawing tablet with one hand and keep the other hand on the keyboard to access more functions within the program and be more efficient.

Shortcut keys are essential for many, if not most, advanced artists.

 

Some go beyond customizing their own shortcut keys and are even using specialized devices!
The more you draw, the more important shortcut keys become.
In this article, we will explain some of the basic shortcuts you can find in most drawing software.

 

Using shortcuts

By using shortcut keys, you can make drawing with your software much easier!

This tutorial uses the Clip Studio Paint UI, but you can use the same shortcut keys for Photoshop and Paint Tool SAI.

 

Example 1: Zooming in on the canvas

Use the following shortcut key to zoom in on your canvas.

 

Hold down Ctrl and press +.

 

 

This will zoom in step by step each time you press the + key. The example below was zoomed in on three times by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing + three times.

 

 

Note

  • macOS users can do the same by holding down the Command key instead of the Ctrl key.
  • You can use both Ctrl keys on the keyboard for this.

 

If you’re using a drawing tablet or mouse to zoom in on the canvas, you don’t have to click the zoom icons or use the menu commands to do so.

 

 

Example 2: Picking up colors with the [Eyedropper] tool

Use the following shortcut key to temporarily change your brush to the [Eyedropper].

 

Hold down the Alt key.

 

 

When using a brush, it will change to the Eyedropper tool when pressing the Alt key.

This way, you can easily pick up colors by clicking on the canvas with the mouse or the tablet pen.

 

 

Note
macOS users can do the same by holding down the Opt key instead of the Alt key.

 

 

Frequently used shortcut keys

Following are some of the most frequently used shortcut keys in Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, and Paint Tool SAI.

Keys marked with a “+” indicate that you need to press both buttons. These commands are the same in Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint, and Paint Tool SAI unless stated otherwise.

 

Zooming in on the canvas

 

Windows : Ctrl + +

Mac: Cmd + +

 

 

Zooming out of the canvas

 

Windows : Ctrl +

Mac: Cmd +

 

 

Undo

 

Windows : Ctrl + Z

Mac: Cmd + Z

 

 

Redo

 

– For Clip Studio Paint & Paint Tool SAI

Windows : Ctrl + Y

Mac: Cmd + Y

 

– Photoshop

Windows : Shift + Ctrl + Z

Mac: Shift + Cmd + Z

 

 

Increase brush size

 

] key

 

 

Decrease brush size

 

[ key

 

 

Picking up color with the [Eyedropper] tool

 

Windows : Alt + Click the canvas

Mac: Opt + Click the canvas

 

 

Moving the canvas (scroll/pan)

 

Space + Drag the canvas

 

 

Discovering more shortcut keys

Of course, there are many more shortcut keys than the ones introduced here. You can discover them within the software yourself.

 

Shortcuts for menu commands

Menu commands that have shortcut keys will have their shortcuts displayed right next to them in the menu.

 

 

 

Tool shortcuts

In Photoshop and Clip Studio Paint, hovering the cursor over a specific tool will reveal the shortcut key in a tooltip.

Photoshop users can also hold down on the tool button to display the shortcut key.

 

 

 

Check the help page!

The help pages of graphics software sometimes have a list of shortcut keys, which can be a great way to discover new shortcuts easily.

 

Photoshop

Initial shortcut key settings (Adobe)

 

Photoshop Elements

Photoshop Elements Help (Adobe)

 

Clip Studio Paint

List of shortcuts (Clip Studio Paint User Guide)

 

Paint Tool SAI

Select the Other menu > Help to go to the page explaining the various available shortcut keys of the software.

You can also check “How to change shortcut keys” to find a list of shortcuts.

 

 

How to change shortcut keys

You can change the initial shortcut settings of most graphics software, or add new shortcut keys for menu commands and tools.

It may be helpful for your to change the key bindings to something easier to remember, or something that is easier to reach with one hand on the keyboard.

 

Photoshop

From the Edit menu, select Keyboard Shortcuts.

From the Keyboard Shortcuts and Menus dialog, set your preferred shortcut keys for different commands and tools.

 

Note
It is not possible to set shortcut keys in Photoshop Elements.

 

(1) Select Area

(2) Select the item to edit, then enter the desired key

(3) Click OK

 

 

Clip Studio Paint

From the File menu (the application menu in macOS) choose Shortcut Settings.

From the Shortcut Settings dialog box, set the shortcut keys for commands and tools.

 

(1) Select a category from the Setting area dropdown menu

(2) Double-click the item to edit, then enter the desired key

(3) Click OK

 

 

Paint Tool SAI

From the Other menu, select Keyboard Shortcuts.

Once the Keyboard Shortcuts Preference dialog box appears, you can add commands for shortcut keys.

 

(1) (Optional) Filter by modifier keys

(2) Select shortcut

(3) Select the desired key

(4) Click OK

 

 

To set shortcut keys for tools, double click the tool that you want to adjust to open the Custom Tool Settings dialog box. Enter the key in the Shortcut Key field, and press OK to confirm.

 

(1) Double click the tool icon

(2) Enter the new key, then press OK

 

 

Even if a specific graphics software is not mentioned here, most available programs have shortcut keys and the option to customize them.

Try using shortcut keys when drawing to make your workflow more efficient.