Four Simple Steps To Create Your Own Custom Photoshop Actions

Happy Monday everybody — ready to learn about Actions? Wild cheers ensue! (Hey, it could happen). Anyway, I still get questions about Photoshop’s Action feature, so I thought I’d do a ‘quick start’ kinda post to get you up and running in five minutes.

What’s an Action?
If you’re wondering what “Actions” are, basically it’s like a tape recorder in Photoshop that records your step and plays them back really fast, so you can automate repetitive tasks. Best of all, simple actions (yes, you can create really complex ones if you want), are really easy to create and use.

In our example, let’s say you want to resize a high-res image for posting on Facebook, Twitter, etc., and since you’re resizing it down pretty small, you want to sharpen it before you post it (you lose some sharpness when you size down like that, so I always apply a little sharpening to bring it back, and maybe even a bit more than I lost so it looks nice and sharp). So, rather than going through the process manually from now, you’ll create a simple action; assign it to an F-key on your keyboard, and from now on the process because a 2-second, one key automated thingy.

Let’s get started:

STEP ONE: Open an image you would normally post on social, then go under the Window menu and choose Actions to bring up the Actions panel (shown here). To create your own custom action, press the ‘New Action’ button (it’s looks like the New Layer button — I’m clicking right on it in the capture above).

STEP TWO: This brings up the ‘New Action’ dialog (shown above) where you name your action (I did), assign it to a Function Key on your keyboard (I chose F11, as seen here). You’ll notice there’s no ‘OK’ or ‘Done’ button. Instead it says ‘Record’ because once you click that it is now recording your steps.

STEP THREE: Now do the things you want Photoshop to automate from here out. In this case, we’re only doing two thing, and the first is resizing the image to 1000 pixels wide (as seen here). Note: take a look over at the Actions panel on the left. See how there’s a red dot? That’s the ‘Record’ button, and it’s letting you know it’s recording your steps. Just a handy visual.

Above: After you resize your image, then go under the Filter menu, under Sharpen and choose Unsharp Mask. Input your favorite settings (I used 70, 1.0 and 10 here, which are pretty decent settings for sharpening low res 1000-pixel images like this for the Web). NOTE: Take a look over at the Actions panel and you can see it now lists the first thing we did to the photo — Image Size. The red dot tells you its still recording.

STEP FOUR: After you’ve run the Unsharp Mask filter, go ahead and Save the photo, and then close the image window. Yes, it records the ‘Save’ and the ‘Close.’ Now press the square ‘Stop’ button at the bottom of the Actions panel (as shown here). That’s it — you just created your first action. At this point, I usually open a different image, and I then I click the ‘Play’ button (it looks like a triangle — just to the right of the red record dot), just to see if the action works properly (of course, you could also just press F11 on your keyboard, and it will run the action). Doesn’t matter which one you use — you’re just testing it to see if it works. Now you’re ready to rock! (Guitar pun intended. I know. Groan). ;-)

Q. Hey, how many steps can an action like this record? Just two?
A. Nope — it will record for as long as you do stuff — your action can have one step, 10 -steps, 500-steps or more — I haven’t found a limit  (there may actually be one, but I haven’t found it yet). 

Next Time: Applying an Action to an entire folder of images
Where Actions get really fun is when you create an action, and then apply it to an entire folder of images at once, and you simply walk away from your computer (or switch to another program), and in the background, Photoshop just cranks away working on your behalf, totally unattended, like some autonomous robot from Skynet who will soon become self aware and take over the world. But not this year, so they’re safe to use for now. I’ll show you this ‘Batch Action’ feature on another day — for now, go and make your first action.

If you want to learn more about Actions…
And all the other automation stuff Photoshop and Lightroom can do (and there is plenty), we have a awesome course on it (here’s the link).

I’m up in Chicago today with my Lightroom seminar
So looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of photographers up here today (and tomorrow in Detroit — got a packed house!). Hope if you there’s you’ll come up and say hi between sessions. Next month I’m in Minneapolis and Indianapolis. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Only 10-days ’till the Photoshop World Conference (Whoo hoo!). It’s not to late to come join us, ya know. Weather’s beautiful in Orlando this time of year.  :)

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Nice Tutorial on Blending Masks in Photoshop CC

I ran across this Blend Mask tutorial on one of Adobe’s official blogs over in the UK, and it’s a great little tutorial (a little more of an advanced technique, but well worthwhile and easy to follow). It’s from Adobe’s Richard Curtis, and the post itself is from September of last year.

In the tutorial Richard shows how to make the robe of the 2nd monk (well, the 2nd from the left), perfectly match the color and luminance of the first monk. Really good stuff.

Here’s the link to Richard’s Blending Mask tutorial.

Hope you found that helpful (and thanks to Richard for sharing it). Looking forward to meeting a whole bunch of you in Chicago and in Detroit next Monday and Tuesday (respectively) with my Lightroom OnTour seminar. :)

Have a great weekend, and we’ll catch ya here on Monday.

Best,

-Scott

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Awesome Little Photoshop ‘Find The Best Font’ Tip

OK, if you’ve ever struggled with finding just the right font for a project, you will love this tip.

Adobe made a change in Photoshop CC that makes being able to see what different fonts look like live in your document on screen, and it’s so much easier and faster than the old versions. It’s a really handy tip to know if you ever work with type on any level at all.

See, that’s much better than the old method (and if you’re saying to yourself, “Heck, I didn’t even know the old version” that’s cool — this is a better way anyway.”)

Hope you found that helpful. Come on back ’round tomorrow for Guest Blog Wednesday. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We’re just 16 days from the Photoshop World Conference 2017. It’s not too late to come and spend three-days away from all the cares and hassles of the world, and just immerse yourself in learning, becoming more creative, more efficient, and have a bunch of fun while you’re doing it. You’ve always wanted to come to Photoshop World — now’s your chance. Tickets and info right here. – This is the year. You’re going. :)

 

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3D Text with Photoshop and Project Felix

In this video I continue looking into 3D text. Here though I take the text to Project Felix and add 3D objects to the scene too.    

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5 Tips For Customizing Your Copy of Photoshop

Happy Monday everybody. Today we’re doing five tips for making your Photoshop look and act the way you want it by customizing a few key things (including a couple of hidden things that are pretty cool. Check out the short video below.

Hope you found that helpful.

Here’s wishing you the best Monday this year so far!

Best,

-Scott

 

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Scatter 3D Text By Letter in Photoshop

In this video I take the techniques from the last two videos and then ‘scatter’ the text, individually. Just for fun I also make the ground plane reflective too! Creating a 3D Ground Plane to Match an Image in Photoshop Create 3D Glass Text in Photoshop

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The Beginners’s Guide to the Pen Tool in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach how to use the pen tool when working with product photography.

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Create 3D Glass Text in Photoshop

  Following on from my last post where I showed you to how to move text to an existing ground plane, in this video I make some glass effect 3D text. I also recorded a video for Photofocus, Creating a 3D Ground Plane to Match an Image in Photoshop  

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Orange and Teal LUTS and Photoshop Actions

Add amazing orange-teal and orange-blue effects with these free Photoshop actions and LUTs. Orange and teal is a great way to add color contrast to your photos/videos and is used in many movies and posters. It’s also being increasingly used on Instagram and vlogs. The best effect in this package is the “Berlin” look. The Berlin look completely transforms a photo giving you the vintage/retro feeling with bright and vibrant colors. The actions are compatible with Photoshop CS1 and newer (including Photoshop CC) as well as Photoshop Elements 11 and newer.

Click to view slideshow.

Download Details

Free Download

  • 5 Looks
  • Fully Editable Layers
  • “Play All Effects” Action
  • 5 LUTs
  • No Stackable LUTs
  • No Face Detection Skin Tone Masking
  • No Automatic Error Correction
  • Download

Pro Version

  • 16 Looks
  • Fully Editable Layers
  • “Play All Effects” Action
  • 16 LUTs
  • 16 Stackable LUTs
  • Face Detection Skin Tone Masking (Photoshop CC)
  • Automatic Error Correction (Photoshop CC)
  • Creative Market
  • SparkleStock

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Portrait Retouching Tip of the Day

The tip is simple. Don’t do what you see above. Don’t go too far.

When people submit images for blind critiques on “The Grid” and we say “That’s some bad retouching…” it’s not that they don’t know the Photoshop techniques, or don’t understand how to retouch a photo — it’s that they always take it too far. Their eyes are “too white” – the skin is like plastic (see above) with no visible pores – everything is just simply too much.

If you want to have better, more realistic-looking retouches, you don’t need to learn some fancy new technique. You just need to do “less” of the ones you already know. If you’re fairly new to retouching, and you think you’ve got it looking about right, go and back off everything by about 35% and you should be “there.”

Hope you find that helpful. :)

Best,

-Scott

P.S. Only 4-days left to save $100 on a Photoshop World 2017 Conference Pass using the early bird sign-up special. The conference is next month in Orlando, Florida (April 20-22, 1017). Tickets and more details here. 

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The Advantage of “Open as Smart Object in Photoshop”

Happy Monday everybody (stop snickering). OK, let’s get to it. When you take an image from Lightroom over to Photoshop (to do some things Lightroom can’t do), you can choose to send a regular “pixel-based” image over there, or you can send it over as a “Smart Object” (as shown above — where I right-clicked on the image to bring up this pop-up menu).

One of the main advantages of doing this is that you can maintain the non-destructive nature of the RAW image and re-edit the RAW file (or resize your image non-destructively) all while you’re over in Photoshop (instead of having to return to Lightroom). Here’s an example:

When you bring an image over to Photoshop as a Smart Object, it’s non-destructive because the RAW image is embedded into the Photoshop document (it’s not just a pixel-based copy of your file). You’ll know that it’s a Smart Object layer because there’s a little ‘page’ icon in the bottom right corner of the layer’s thumbnail in the Layers panel (I’m pointing my cursor at it in the capture above).

If you decide that you wanted to re-edit that RAW image right within Photoshop (maybe you thought the image was too bright, or need more contrast, or needed a white balance tweak and you wanted to apply those to the RAW image itself), just double-click on that Smart Object Layer in the Layers panel, and it opens the RAW image in the Camera Raw window (seen above).

When you’re done editing the Smart Object layer, just click ‘OK’ in the Camera Raw window and you can return to your editing (as seen here where the changes I outlined were applied to the RAW image).

That’s just a peek into why you might want to take your image over to Photoshop as a Smart Object, rather than a pixel-based image.

Hope you found that helpful.

South Philadelphia, born and raised…
OK, I just lamed borrowed a line from the Fresh Prince to deftly slide into a mention that I’ll be in Philly next Monday (a week from today) with my full day “Lightroom On Tour” seminar, and I’m hoping if you’re in the Philly area (or know a photographer who is), you’ll come and spend the day with me.

It’s just $99 for the full day including my detailed workbook and my Lightroom Presets Pack (10 of my favorite custom Lightroom presets). Here’s the link with ticket info. Also, I’ll be in Boston this Friday – if you’re not already signed up, it’s not too late.

Have a butt-kickin’, boot scootin’, bass-fishin’, tailgate liftin’, kind of Monday (I have no idea what any of that means).

Best,

-Scott

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Creating a 3D Ground Plane to Match an Image in Photoshop

When you’re adding a 3D element to an image its often difficult to line up the ground in the image to the ground plane for the 3D image. In this post I’ll outline how to make sure they line up perfectly, every time. In this example I’ll add some 3D text to a shelf; Creating the 3D Text To make things easier I’m going to change the workspace to 3D, this makes the 3D and Property panels available; To make the ‘Home’ layer three dimensional select the Source, 3D Extrusion and then Create; This creates the 3D layer with it’s own ground plane. By luck its a close match but not quite right; You could use the Move tool to move the Scene, but this is fiddly. Creating the Ground Plane Turning off the Home layer makes this next part a little more clear. I used the rulers to drag down a guide that matches the two horizontal lines of the shelf. Then I drew a 1px red line along them. (Snap really helps here. Menu: View>Snap); Once the lines are drawn I can clear the guides using the Menu: View> Clear Canvas Guides. This often helps pinpoint horizontals and [...]

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3 Ways to Convert to Black and White in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you three ways of converting your images to black and white using adjustment layers.  

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Create a Realistic Lightsaber in Photoshop

In today’s retouching video, I teach you how to create a realistic Star Wars lightsaber easily in Photoshop.

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Slick Little Photoshop Drop Shadow Trick For Showing Prints Online

Hi Gang, and happy Monday (Ugh, I know). Anyway, this was a request from one of my readers — the drop shadow effect we’re talking about is from Mark Wegner’s website (Mark is the artist that won our “Gallery at KelbyOne” solo show). He has this slick little drop shadow behind his prints, and it’s actually very easy to do, so I did a video on it (below).

HOWEVER, I must warn youyou will learn a lot more Photoshop stuff in this video than just the drop shadow, because there’s lots of handy shortcuts and techniques wrapped inside this tutorial, so you should definitely check it out.

BONUS VIDEO! 
Below is a short add-on video that shows how to make the background transparent when you save the file, so you can place the final image on your site as just the image and shadow. Thought you might want to know that.

In other Photoshop-related news…
We’re only 60-days or so away from the Photoshop World Conference in Orlando (we’re not doing Vegas this year — Orlando only), so come out and learn and play and get faster, better and more awesome at all this stuff.  Check out the short trailer below to see what being at Photoshop World is really like.

Hope you find all (some, part, etc.) of that helpful.
Have a great day, and we’ll catch ya tamorrah. :)
-Scott

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