View Full Version : Actions

Alex Wilson
09-23-2008, 01:07 PM
Podcast #52 talked a bit about actions, so I thought I'd mention something in the forum.

Actions are just a way of recording what you are doing in Photoshop, and then playing them back again.

First, if you use Photoshop and don't yet use actions, you are really missing out on something that will improved your digital darkroom work. They aren't something to be afraid of -- making actions is easy.

If you find yourself doing the same set of steps more than once, consider making an action for it. If you find yourself to doing the same thing to most or all of your images, you will save *tons* of time by using actions.

Let me give you a few examples of my more commonly used ones:

I've got one once action I run on about 95% of the images when I first open them to begin editing. If does nothing to change the image, but it sets up all layers I commonly use when editing. Even better it, it changes the the names of the layers (and layer groups) to something meaningful. For me, this means creating a blank layer (called "cleanup") above the background for immediate touch-ups, a levels adjustment layer, and then two layer groups, one for colour (includes a curves adjustment layer with a blending mode of luminosity) and a saturation adjustment layer. The B&W layer group has a channel mixer, a curves adjustment layer, and second curved adjustment layer that loads a saved sepia setting. All these layers and groups are nicely named, but also turned off -- I turn them on as I need them while workin on the image. So now, with one press when I open up a file, I've got my basic building blocks created ready to use. Creating the layers, tweaking the blending modes, setting the names, etc. by hand each time would take me a minute or two with each image.

Simple actions can be just as helpful, too. I've got another one that creates my "dodge/burn" layer -- new, empty layer with a blending mode of soft light.

Or I've got another that just quickly flattens the images, resizes it to 600px, and changes the colour space to sRGB -- now it's ready to save-for-web.

Actions don't have to be crazy and complex. Just start by recording the things you do often. You save oodles of time, and start learning how to create more involved and useful actions as well.

09-23-2008, 01:44 PM
I didn't start using actions until CS2, I don't even remember if they were in CS1. I use one all the time -

Light and Dark Curves - this action adds two adjustment layers, one a little lighter and one a little darker both ready so I can just draw the layers with (ctrl+backspace - I forgot the actual term, I use hot keys too much). I use this for eyes and to make certain elements pop. It also sets my pen to a soft round pen with 30% opacity.