As a professional and 8 years experienced. I can tell you there is no better method to learning photoshop then raw experimentation.. Layer blending modes are a great way to see how to get awesome effects, try overlay, color burn and dodge alot, and scroll through the others to see what you get. Failure Failure Failure, it will get you comfortable and not afraid to try new things. Avoid filters as much as possible, they severely handicapped me for 2 years in my journey. Best advice I can give you, if you care to listen, is buy a tablet (1028p atleast 4×6), draw as much as you can, start hard, download brush packs and make your own, and most importantly DO NOT BE AFRAID.. you can do it… the more you force yourself to adapt the program around your needs, the quicker you’ll learn. If at 12 years old I could get it, I guarantee anyone else can too. I’m 20 now, and already in my third job of my career without a degree makin good money. I never had formal training, and you dont need it either. It helps but its not required. A DEGREE IS though, I’m working for mine, just make sure you dont wait for school to get started. You dont wana go in without any knowledge or experience you wont get good job placement.
Being able to draw will heavily distinguish you from the normal Graphics Designer, not only will your designs be crisper and more unique, but you’re not bounded by purchasing a stocks or a damn good camera to capture your own. Don’t get me wrong though, stocks are an integral part of GD, you just don’t want them to be the foundation of every design. BTW, drawing is an achieved talent, your not born with it, it takes a lot of practice but hell its worth every minute.
istockphoto.com (stocks only), pixel2life.com, good-tutorials.com, deviantart.com are great places to get training and resources for any new graphics designer, as you get better look for digital painting tutorials. Go to places like depthcore.com and try to pick out how they developed their pieces, technique studies in your spare time will improve your skill DRAMATICALLY.
Join graphics design communities, and get your art critiqued (word of warning, dont beg for lessons, we hate walking people through stuff). If I had any websites off hand I would post them here. Remember, Dont be AFRAID, fear of failure will handicap you more than anything else. Know you can do it.. know it and you will eventually be a great designer.
Sorry for the rant, but im assuming if you cared about this article then your looking for all the advice you can get. I wish all the new designers luck in their venture, and I hope to see some new inspiring work up on the net! Have fun!